wherefore art thou Winter?

I may be biased, since I’m from Massachusetts and was therefore born with a love for a) snow and b) the Red Sox, but here in the DC region, this winter has been obscenely mild. We knew this was coming – the Capital Weather Gang warned us that La Nina (among other things) would keep the snow away. I wanted to do a quick comparison to January of last year, to see just how weird January 2012 has been, so I grabbed some data from AccuWeather and plotted it up:

The stats:

January 2011: average 39.7 F, stdev 7.1 F

January 2012: average 49.2 F, stdev 10 F

Highest high: 68 in 2012 (compared to 59 in 2011)

Lowest low high: 28 in 2011 (compared to 32 in 2012)

Yes, I realize this is only a 2-year comparison, and yes, I realize there are people that do these kinds of comparisons for a living, and do them better, but it’s still interesting to note that this January felt warmer and more variable than last, and in fact, it was. And while I do miss the snow, I admit that I also enjoy lunchtime bike rides, so off I go!

Geologic Genealogy

Earlier today, Jessica Ball at Magma Cum Laude, posted a great summary of her “geologic genealogy.” She’s not alone in being asked about her academic lineage, so I thought I would dig back as far as I could, and share my own.

I did both an MS and a PhD. Here’s a sketch to make it a little clearer, since the ‘families’ sort of intertwine:



My PhD advisor was the incomparable Terry Plank (note: at the time she advised me, she was at Boston University). Her advisor was Charlie Langmuir, currently at Harvard. His advisor was Gilbert Hanson, whose advisor was Paul W. Gast, who was one of the “Four Horsemen;”  lunar geoscientists (of whom he was chief) and consultants to NASA during Apollo. Go read his 1971 paper, “The chemical composition and structure of the moon.” Gast was also the first Goldschmidt medalist (in fact, there is a Geochemical Society lecture named for him).

Prior to my time with Terry, I did an MS at Michigan State with Lina Patino, who, oddly enough, is now at NSF in an office adjacent to mine. This is where it gets incestuous: Terry served on Lina’s PhD defense committee as an external member. Lina’s advisor, Mike Carr at Rutgers (who wrote the IgPet software package, and knows everything about Central America) served on MY defense committee. His advisor was Dick Stoiber, who was at Dartmouth when Terry was there, and introduced her to Central American geochemistry, and oh look that’s what a chunk of my dissertation was about. Stoiber was interesting… a volcanologist who felt that international study and travel were essential. He was one of the first to make foreign experience part of the curriculum, taking students down to Central America to study in the field.

Everyone named above has produced an incredibly productive and interesting set of siblings and cousins for me. Backwards in time, I’m not sure where the lines go past Gast and Stoiber, but I’m proud to be a part of this crew.


Photos come from the embedded links for each person above, except for Lina Patino who would be quite mad at me for putting her photo on the internet (so you get a photo I took of a Costa Rican waterfall, instead) and the one of me (which my friend Samer took in Iceland). 


Well, howdy.

Recently, I realized I am in need of a place to a) expand on some topics for longer than 140 characters and b) develop at least some vague competency in writing. A couple of friends and excellent bloggers encouraged me, reminding me that the only way to get better at writing is to practice.

Thus, I give you Fuzzy Science, where I imagine I’ll cover anything from late-breaking awesome science, to the periodic table, to whatever delicious (or terrible) recipe I’m trying/developing in a given week, to the adorable fuzzy critters that find their way into my inbox. And maybe Dr. Who.

I hope you find some of it interesting. I hope you laugh occasionally.


Below: Guguan (JW); shower (Angela Kleis); chocolate bacon cookies (JW); Icelandic friend (JW)