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 moved to the US to join Georgia Tech as a postdoctoral fellow in 2019. Originally from the UK, I became fascinated with using mathematics to solve problems in earth science and specifically climate change during my undergraduate degree at the University of Exeter. I continued this with my PhD at the University of Reading’s department of Meteorology, where I created a mathematical model of surface melt on ice shelves under the supervision of Prof Danny Feltham and Dr Daniela Flocco within the Centre for Polar Observation and Modelling (CPOM). Following this, I worked as a European Space Agency funded postdoc at University College London with Prof Julienne Stroeve and Dr Michel Tsamados, looking at remote sensing and modelling of Arctic sea ice. Two trips to the Arctic have confirmed my love for the polar regions and I’m continuing to work in modelling ice shelves. I’m a strong believer that science careers are for everyone and that we should communicate the science that we do, because of this I often give talks especially to encourage girls into science. My outreach work has included national radio and shows for several hundred teenagers at venues such as the Royal Institution and Sheffield Crucible.
Dr. John Erich Christian (joint with U. of Texas)
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.
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.
Adriana Formby-Fernandez – Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Engineering Physics (anticipated 2020)
A Florida native, I have always been fascinated by the ocean and the wild nature of waves. In my senior year of high school, I started becoming interested in physics, and specifically in dynamics. I began my undergraduate studies at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in 2016, majoring in Engineering Physics with a concentration in spacecraft systems and two minors in meteorology and computational mathematics. I will be pursuing a doctorate in physical oceanography after graduating, working with air-sea interactions. I am currently doing research with the Ice and Climate Group as part of the Earth and Atmospheric Science Research Experience for Undergraduates for the summer of 2019. My project is the analysis of ocean wave erosion rates on Arctic ice shelves. This will be simulated using a wave tank and varying previously tested parameters.
Hannah Verboncoeur – Georgia Tech, Earth & Atmospheric Science (anticipated 2020)
I was born in Switzerland and raised near Atlanta, Georgia, far from icy environments. The first glacier I saw was so wildly unfamiliar to me, I immediately became fascinated by the dynamics of its flow and the incredible complexities of its deformation. After completing the International Baccalaureate Program in 2017, I began my undergraduate degree at Georgia Tech majoring in Earth and Atmospheric Sciences with the Research Option. My early research focused on interactions of climate and geomorphology, where my passion for developing mathematical models to simulate natural geodynamics began. I spent a life-changing field season on the Juneau Icefield studying glacial hydrology and dynamics and began working with the Ice and Climate group in 2019 studying marine ice sheet instabilities and ice-climate interactions. In the future, I will work towards a PhD in glaciology, while also championing the diversification and accessibility of cryospheric science across the world.
Blake Castleman – Georgia Tech, Mechanical Engineering (anticipated 2022)
I was born in Texas and raised in California. As a mechanical engineering major, I became interested in pursuing uncertainty quantification (UQ) within different dynamic systems and models early in my undergraduate studies. After taking a dive into research with Gaussian regression approximation techniques, I came upon cryosphere modeling and simulations, where I became fascinated by the various UQ tools used throughout the field. By using applied mathematics, physics, geosciences, and computer science, I combine diverse fields in order to solve the complex issues that glaciers and ice sheets pose as understanding their future outcome depends on various chaotic factors. In the past, I interned under Dr. Nicole Schlegel at NASA-JPL using wavelet decomposition to understand how bedrock error affects PIG and Thwaites’ retreat predictions. Now, I am currently modeling Jakobshavn Isbrae in Greenland, providing transient simulations to learn what internal variation effects impact its future retreat.
Logan Mann – Georgia Tech, Earth & Atmospheric Science (BS 2020)
I am interested in ice wherever it may be found, be it terrestrial or planetary. Born and raised here in Atlanta, the glaciers and ice sheets of Earth are as alien to me as those of Mars, Europa, or Enceladus, which drives my particular interest in understanding them through numerical modeling, applied math, and geophysics, in addition to remote sensing and in situ measurement. I joined the Ice and Climate group in the Spring of 2020 and have continued my research after graduating from Georgia Tech’s School of Earth and Atmospheric Science in May 2020. My current project explores the interplay between ocean forcing and ice stream variability in Heinrich events. In addition to my research in the Ice and Climate Group, I have worked on the instruments team for the Vertical Entry Robot for Navigating Europa (VERNE). This ongoing collaboration, between Dr. Glenn Lightsey of the Space Systems Design Lab (SSDL) at Georgia Tech and Dr. Brittney Schmidt of the Planetary Habitability and Technology Lab at Georgia Tech, seeks to design a vehicle capable of exploring Europa’s subsurface ocean.
Former Members and Visitors
Austin Matthews (GT BSE in Mech. Eng. 2019) – Lab Engineer – Now a graduate student at GT (AE)