Planavsky wins 2016 Packard Fellowship for research on oceans
Noah Planavsky, assistant professor in the Department of Geology & Geophysics, has been awarded a 2016 Packard Fellowship for Science and Engineering.
Planavsky will receive $875,000 over five years to fund his research into how life in Earth’s oceans has changed over billions of years. The Packard Fellowships for Science and Engineering, one of the largest nongovernmental fellowships in the United States, was announced Oct. 14.
“Noah has made enormous contributions studying global geological and geochemical cycles through ‘deep time’ — hundreds of millions to billions of years ago,” said department chair Jay Ague, the Henry Barnard Davis Memorial Professor of Geology and Geophysics. “He focuses on trace metals in sedimentary rocks, such as chromium, which record the geochemical evolution of the land-atmosphere-ocean system. His work tackles fundamental questions of basic relevance for our understanding of the early Earth as well as exoplanets, including the long-term history of atmospheric carbon dioxide and oxygen, and the late Precambrian ‘Snowball Earth’ ice ages and subsequent evolution of animal life.”
The David and Lucile Packard Foundation established the fellowships in 1988. Each year, the foundation invites 50 universities to nominate two faculty members for consideration in the following disciplines — physics, chemistry, mathematics, biology, astronomy, computer science, earth science, ocean science, and all branches of engineering.
Planavsky’s work looks at Earth’s early history to understand the connections between the evolution of Earth-system processes, biological innovation, and ecosystem change. A main theme of his research is piecing together the history and effects of Earth’s oxygenation.
“My goal is to develop a novel toolkit to track the dynamics of marine primary productivity from Earth’s earliest history to the very recent past,” Planavsky said. “A better understanding of how life in the oceans has changed will help us understand the factors that drive climate change and ecosystem shifts.”
The Packard fellowships are intended to afford recipients the chance to pursue their research with few funding restrictions and limited reporting requirements.