Lisa Tauxe, distinguished professor of geophysics at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego and a world expert in the history of the earth’s magnetic field, will be recognized on Feb. 18 as a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the nation’s largest scientific organization.
Tauxe has been selected for this honor for her “distinguished contributions and innovations in the determination of geomagnetic paleointensity and the complimentary effort to disseminate new methods benefiting the entire discipline.”
Tauxe’s research focuses on paleomagnetism, the study of the magnetism in ancient rocks. She conducts expeditions at sites around the globe to analyze the magnetic properties of rocks and archaeological artifacts for clues about fluctuations in the earth’s magnetic field dating back millions of years. Her reconstructions of the earth’s magnetic past have been used in the development of models of continental drift and climate evolution.
Recently, Tauxe and her team traveled to the northernmost and southernmost active volcanoes on earth to examine the magnetic properties of lava flows, which act as tape recorders for the earth’s magnetic past. Tauxe’s findings will test long-held theories about the strength and directional variations of the earth’s magnetic field at high latitudes.
AAAS is acknowledging Tauxe not only for her important scientific discoveries, but also for her effort to educate the international scientific community and the public about paleomagnetism. For example, she has made freely available on her website both a book she authored on the subject and audio of her classroom lectures.
After receiving a doctorate in geological sciences from Columbia University in 1983, Tauxe joined Scripps as an assistant researcher. She has been a full professor since 2004.
She is a fellow of both the American Geophysical Union and the Geological Society of America and is currently serving as the General Secretary and Treasurer of the American Geophysical Union.
Tauxe is among a group of 539 scientists, including nine from UC San Diego, who will be honored as new fellows at the 2012 AAAS annual meeting in Vancouver, British Columbia, for “efforts toward advancing science applications that are deemed scientifically or socially distinguished.”
Though Tauxe will not be in attendance – her teaching duties will keep her in San Diego – she appreciates the recognition by AAAS. “It’s very heartening that some people think highly enough of my work to make something like this happen,” said Tauxe.