I was born and raised in Miami, Florida in a Argentinian/Bolivian-American family. An early fascination with the puzzles within nature led me to a science-oriented public high school where I got my first taste of research in an after school internship at a federal lab. As an undergraduate at Duke University, I studied Earth Sciences and Physics, and worked with Susan Lozier and Josh Socolar to develop stochastic/dynamical systems methods to understand transport and the propagation of uncertainty in the ocean. I went on to pursue a PhD in Earth and Planetary Sciences at Harvard, where I was advised by Eli Tziperman and (externally) Christian Schoof. My dissertation focused on the theory and modeling of changes in ice stream flow and their connection to past periods of rapid deglaciation. I then worked with Victor Tsai at Caltech and Doug MacAyeal at the University of Chicago as a NOAA Climate and Global Change Postdoctoral Fellow. Since 2018, I have been a faculty member in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at Georgia Tech as the head of the Ice & Climate research group. Our work is focused on understanding the causes of ice sheet change and developing conceptual, mathematical, and computational tools to predict future changes.
I grew up on Washington State’s Olympic Peninsula. In school I was most interested in the concepts within math and physics, but the wild landscape nearby helped me develop a habit of constantly asking questions about whatever I was looking at. I went to St. Olaf College (MN) to keep studying physics, and was introduced to glaciology by Robert Jacobel and Knut Christianson. I worked with them on analyzing ice-penetrating radar and satellite data, and was excited to apply concepts from physics to learn about the Earth System. This led me to pursue a PhD in Earth and Space Sciences at the University of Washington, advised by Michelle Koutnik and Gerard Roe. My dissertation focused on understanding the temporal aspects of glacier responses to climate. My primary approach is to use a combination of theoretical and numerical models to explore glacier dynamics. I’ve also worked on several observational projects, and have found it valuable to draw on both theory and geophysical observations to try to understand the cryosphere from different perspectives. My current focus is on modeling outlet glaciers, and understanding how observational constraints balance with intrinsic uncertainties in the natural system.
Dr. Vincent Verjans
I was born and raised in Brussels, Belgium. Throughout my secondary education, I developed an interest in natural sciences and mathematics. At university, I first did a Bachelor degree in physical geography, followed by a Master’s degree in environmental sciences, mentored by notable glaciologists: Frank Pattyn, Jean-Louis Tison, Heiko Goelzer, and Philippe Huybrechts. They shaped my interest in glaciers, ice sheets and their interaction with the climate. I then moved to Lancaster University in the UK to pursue a PhD in firn densification modeling, working with Amber Leeson and Mal McMillan. My work focused on developing better quantifications of model-based uncertainties in firn densification and their implications for ice sheet mass balance. In 2021, I started a postdoc position at Georgia Tech in the Ice & Climate Group, working on the development of the first large-scale stochastic ice sheet model. This effort aims to better integrate uncertainties in process-based ice sheet models, focusing mostly on the atmospheric and oceanic forcing. In the context of my research, I have a strong interest in model development. The largest part of my daily work consists of understanding, developing and debugging code in order to further improve numerical models in glaciology. I am convinced that such models are key to fully translate our theoretical knowledge into accurate estimations and predictions of ice sheet behaviour. More generally, I hope that my work in glaciology is a small contribution to our understanding of the Earth system and to advancing societal objectives.
Dr. Meghana Ranganathan (NOAA CGC Fellow)
I grew up in Dallas, Texas, and spent most of my education hating math and wanting to be a journalist. Then, I went to college at Swarthmore College and had to take a class in linear algebra. For the first time, I learned that math could have a real purpose – to understand the world around me. I ended up majoring in math, hoping to use math to make the world better. The earth sciences seemed like a great way to do that. I did my PhD at MIT’s Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences with Dr. Brent Minchew. There, I primarily studied the role of small-scale processes in controlling rates of glacier flow and fracture by developing simple, physical models. Now, as a postdoctoral fellow with the GT Ice & Climate Group, I’m building on that work by examining how glacier flow and fracture influence each other. More specifically, I’m looking at how rheology affects estimates of ice damage, and how damage may affect ice rheology, taking into account underlying model and parameter uncertainties. I also spend a significant amount of time working towards justice and decolonization of the geosciences, including researching barriers to underrepresented groups in the academic geosciences, developing educational materials and curricula, and thinking about community-oriented science.
Ziad Rashed – Ocean Sciences and Engineering PhD
A native of Egypt, I moved to Northern Virginia in mid-2005 when I was 8 years old. I developed a deep interest in mathematics towards the end of my senior year of high school and was curious about how we can use its power and elegance to describe and model our world. This led me to pursue a degree in Engineering Science and Mechanics at Virginia Tech, where I studied and investigated the governing laws of materials and motions, and how they could be applied in different engineering disciplines. My undergraduate research focused on interfacial fluid mechanics and employing biomimicry for fabrication of slippery surfaces and passive energy generation. I am also very interested in using tools from nonlinear/chaotic dynamics and numerical modeling to determine how we can reduce the complexity of real-world systems while describing their response to internal and external changes. I am developing my skills in these subject areas to gain a greater understanding of the elaborate interactions between glacier and ocean systems, with the greater goal of understanding how these interactions affect the climate on a global scale.
Danielle Grau – Earth and Atmospheric Sciences PhD
I was born and raised in Miami, Florida, where from a young age I had an interest in science, specifically in Earth and Space sciences. I studied Physics as an undergraduate at Florida International University, wanting to understand the processes and mechanics that dictate the behavior of the world around us. I came to glaciology as an REU researcher in the GT Ice & Climate Group to develop a theory for the statistical distribution of melt ponds observed on Antarctica’s ice shelves. In Fall 2021, I began as a PhD student in Earth & Atmospheric Sciences at Georgia Tech, where I will continue to study the effects of climate change on surface melt on ice sheets through mathematical models and high-performance computational methods.
Aminat Ambelorun – Earth and Atmospheric Sciences PhD
I was born and raised in Nigeria, the most populous country in Africa. My favorite courses from high school were maths and physics. As an undergraduate, I studied Physics at the University of Ibadan, Nigeria. My interest in applying physics and math to the study of earth system processes led me to pursue a postgraduate diploma in Earth System Physics at the International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP), Italy. My research focused on investigating the interactions between the loss of Arctic sea ice and atmospheric circulation anomalies. I was introduced to glaciology at ICTP, and I am interested in using mathematical and computational tools to understand how ice sheets respond to changes in the environment and vice versa. In Fall 2021, I started as a PhD student in the Ice & Climate Group at Georgia Tech. I am currently investigating how the stochasticity of iceberg calving affects our ability to make well-constrained predictions of future ice sheet change.
Shivaprakash Muruganandham – Ocean Sciences and Engineering PhD
I grew up in Bangalore, in the southern part of India. Math and physics were fascinating to me from an early age, especially in the ways they addressed questions and problems in the natural world. I went down the engineering route for a few years, through undergraduate studies in Mechanical Engineering and master’s degrees in Cybernetics and Space Technology. During this time, I was introduced to the mathematical foundations of nonlinear dynamics, systems/control theory and machine learning, where I explored their applications across disciplines. Stemming from an interest in earth observation (EO) and advised by Michal Reinštein, my thesis detailed the development of artificial neural networks to interpret urban growth from satellite imagery. I then dove further into the EO and geospatial industry, where I consulted on strategic business problems related to satellite and space applications, particularly in the fields of climate, conservation, and development. Following these interests, I joined the Ice & Climate research group in 2021 to study oceanography and climate science, with a specific focus on fundamental problems in ice sheet and glacier dynamics, and how they relate to global-scale climate and sea level projections in the future.
Madeline Mamer – Earth and Atmospheric Sciences PhD
Born and raised in the desert of southern California, I never thought about glaciers or ice sheets in a meaningful way until undergrad. At the University of Washington, I studied Earth and Space sciences and was introduced to glaciology and climatology. The influence ice and ice clathrates have on planetary climate systems fascinate me because they are removed from the general public’s perspective. Understanding how ice on Earth is changing is crucial to predicting sea-level rise as well as contributing to the growing body of science on icy satellites. This passion for ice systems combined with an REU experience at the University of Rhode Island Graduate School of Oceanography led me to my current research interest investigating the dynamics of the ice-ocean boundary. During the Fall 2021 semester I began as a PhD student at Georgia Tech in oceanography and climate sciences to explore the zone where the ocean meets glaciers.
Rohaiz Haris – GT Mechanical Engineering BSE (Anticipated 2023)
I was brought up in Singapore. While serving in the fire department for my national service, I was able to see how engineering had a positive impact on helping others, which led me to pursue an undergraduate degree in Mechanical Engineering at Georgia Tech. A passion for the outdoors inspired me to apply my engineering background to learning more about the processes that shape our natural world. I joined the GT Ice and Climate Group in the summer of 2021. My current research explores how subglacial hydrology influences basal shear stress at Thwaites Glacier, West Antarctica, by statistical analysis of inversion products and airborne geophysical radar data.
Ella Stewart – GT Earth and Atmospheric Sciences BS/MS (Anticipated 2023)
I was born and raised in Woodstock, Georgia, where I didn’t think much about climate change until I took an environmental science class in high school. Soon enough, I was organizing litter clean ups with classmates and running an Instagram page where I shared my journey toward climate-consciousness. Galvanized by the meaning I found in climate action, I came to Georgia Tech to study Earth and Atmospheric Science. I started my undergrad research in glaciology with Dr. Winnie Chu, where we used radar observations to hunt for grounding lines in Greenland and Antarctica. My research on the ice-ocean transition evolved to include Dr. Alexander Robel, where I am now using a numerical model along with ICESat-2 data to investigate the effects of seawater intrusion on the grounding zones of marine-ending glaciers in Antarctica.
Former Members and Visitors
Dr. Elizabeth Ultee (2021) – Now an Assistant Professor at Middlebury College, VT, USA in the Department of Geology
Dr. Samantha Buzzard (2019-2020) – Now a Lecturer at Cardiff University, UK in the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences
Grace Hansen – GT UG Researcher (2022) – GT BS Comp. Sci. 2022 – Now at PricewaterhouseCoopers
Mikayla Pascual – REU (2021) – Middlebury BS Geology 2022 – Now PhD student at the University of Texas, Institute of Geophysics
Logan Mann – GT UG Researcher (2020-2021) – GT BS EAS 2020 – Now PhD student in glaciology at Dartmouth College
Adriana Formby-Fernandez – REU + Technician (2019-2021) – ERAU BS Eng. Physics 2021 – Now PhD student and NSF GRFP Fellow at UCSD – Scripps Institute of Oceanography
Hannah Verboncoeur – GT UG Researcher (2019-2021) – GT BS EAS 2021 – Now PhD student and NSF GRFP Fellow in glaciology at the Colorado School of Mines
Blake Castleman – GT UG Researcher (2019-2020) – GT BSE Mech. Eng. 2022 – Now MS student in CS at Columbia
Austin Matthews – GT UG Lab Engineer (2019) – GT BSE/MS Mech. Eng. 2019/2021 – Now at Ursa Major Technologies