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SATYANARAYANA, NISHANTH

STEWART, JAMES

AAAS Names Scripps Oceanography Scientists as New Fellows

Scripps Institution of Oceanography’s Ron Burton and Jean-Bernard Minster are among six professors at UC San Diego to be named 2013 Fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the nation’s largest general science organization.

Burton and Minster were among 388 individuals honored by colleagues in their disciplines for their “efforts toward advancing science applications that are deemed scientifically or socially distinguished.”

The new fellows, who were announced by the association this week, will be presented with official certificates and gold and blue rosette pins on Feb. 15 at the 2014 AAAS Annual Meeting in Chicago.

Burton, a professor of marine biology, was selected for “distinguished contributions to molecular ecology, speciation, and evolutionary genetics of natural populations of marine organisms.” His research on copepods, crabs, sea urchins, abalone, and fish integrates several approaches to study patterns of dispersal and adaptation to environmental changes in the sea and the mechanisms underlying the formation of new species. The former head of the Biology Section and the Marine Biology Research Division at Scripps, Burton also examines the relationships between molecular genetics and physiological variation within species.

Minster, a distinguished professor of geophysics in the Cecil H. and Ida M. Green Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics (IGPP) at Scripps, researches a broad range of geophysical processes, including plate tectonics, space geodesy, seismology studies and earthquake prediction, and nuclear test-ban treaty verification. Minster is well known for his development of quantitative models of plate motions and for advancing the scientific understanding of plate deformation. Minster is past chair of the San Diego division of the University of California Academic Senate, and current chair of the International Council for Science World Data System Scientific Committee. Not only was Minster cited by AAAS for his work in geophysics research, but also for “community leadership and teaching the next generation of geophysicists.”

The other new AAAS Fellows at UC San Diego are:

• Seth Cohen, professor and chair of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, “for distinguished contributions in the field of inorganic chemistry, particularly in small molecule inhibitors of metalloproteins in biology and disease, and metal-organic framework materials.” Cohen is a leader in the design, synthesis, and evaluation of inhibitors of metalloproteins—protein molecules, such as hemoglobin, that require metal ions for their function. A number of metalloproteins are associated with diseases ranging from heart disease to cancer to anthrax infections. Using fundamental principles of inorganic chemistry, Cohen and his colleagues have developed inhibitors that better target the metal active sites of these proteins.

• Bing Ren, professor of cellular and molecular medicine in the School of Medicine and a member of the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, “for outstanding original contributions to the analysis of genome-wide distributions of regulatory factors, and of the large scale organization of eukaryotic genomes.” Ren specializes in “epigenetics,” the study of the fundamental mechanisms that control gene expression in mammalian cells. More specifically, he investigates how the genome’s non-coding regions inform genes about what to do and when during development, throughout life, and how variants and dysfunction contribute to human diseases.

• Shankar Subramaniam, bioengineering professor in the Jacobs School of Engineering and Joan and Irwin Jacobs Professor in Bioengineering and Systems Biology, “for unique and outstanding contributions at the interface of engineering, life sciences, and informatics, particularly in applications to systems biology and medicine.” Traditionally, in biology, researchers looked at individual parts — molecules, tissues, physical measures such as cholesterol, or individual physiology readouts like systolic and diastolic pressures. In contrast, engineers are trained to look at how components integrate to give systems-level behavior. UC San Diego researchers, including Subramaniam, were some of the first to bring rigorous principles of engineering and systems-level thinking to the study of biology and medicine.

• Mark Thiemens, dean of the Division of Physical Sciences and distinguished professor of chemistry and biochemistry, “for distinguished contributions in a wide range of topics, particularly for pioneering work in atmospheric chemistry, solar system evolution, quantum chemistry, and discovery of the mass-independent isotope effect for ozone.” Thiemens is an atmospheric chemist. The chemical techniques he and his colleagues developed in the laboratory have been used to probe a wide variety of problems—from particulate and ozone pollution in the atmosphere to climate change to questions about the prospects of life on Mars and the origin and evolution of life on earth.

VOET, GUNNAR

Ancient "Hyperthermals" a Guide to Anticipated Climate Changes

Bursts of intense global warming that have lasted tens of thousands of years have taken place more frequently throughout history than previously believed, according to evidence gathered by a team led by Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego researchers.

Richard Norris, a professor of geology at Scripps who co-authored the report, said that releases of carbon dioxide sequestered in the deep oceans were the most likely trigger of these ancient "hyperthermal" events. Most of the events raised average global temperatures between 2° and 3° Celsius (3.6 and 5.4° F), an amount comparable to current conservative estimates of how much temperatures are expected to rise in coming decades as a consequence of anthropogenic global warming. Most hyperthermals lasted about 40,000 years before temperatures returned to normal.

Sediment samples in the lab of Richard Norris obtained by the Ocean Drilling Program reveal the mark of "hyperthermals," warming events lasting thousands of years that changed the composition of the sediment and its color. The packaged sediment sample on the left contains sediment formed in the wake of a 55-million-year-old warming event and the sample on the right is sediment from a later era after global temperatures stabilized.

Sediment samples in the lab of Richard Norris obtained by the Ocean Drilling Program reveal the mark of "hyperthermals," warming events lasting thousands of years that changed the composition of the sediment and its color. The packaged sediment sample on the left contains sediment formed in the wake of a 55-million-year-old warming event and the sample on the right is sediment from a later era after global temperatures stabilized.
The study appears in the March 17 issue of the journal Nature.

"These hyperthermals seem not to have been rare events," Norris said, "hence there are lots of ancient examples of global warming on a scale broadly like the expected future warming. We can use these events to examine the impact of global change on marine ecosystems, climate and ocean circulation."

The hyperthermals took place roughly every 400,000 years during a warm period of Earth history that prevailed some 50 million years ago. The strongest of them coincided with an event known as the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum, the transition between two geologic epochs in which global temperatures rose between 4° and 7° C (7.2° and 12.6° F) and needed 200,000 years to return to historical norms. The events stopped taking place around 40 million years ago, when the planet entered a cooling phase. No warming events of the magnitude of these hyperthermals have been detected in the geological record since then.

Phil Sexton, a former student of Norris' now at the Open University in the United Kingdom, led the analysis of sediment cores collected off the South American coast. In the cores, evidence of the warm periods presented itself in bands of gray sediment layered within otherwise pale greenish mud. The gray sediment contained increased amounts of clay left after the calcareous shells of microscopic organisms were dissolved on the sea floor. These clay-rich intervals are consistent with ocean acidification episodes that would have been triggered by large-scale releases of carbon dioxide. Large influxes of carbon dioxide change the chemistry of seawater by producing greater amounts of carbonic acid in the oceans.

Richard Norris in his lab with ancient sediments obtained by the Ocean Drilling Program reveal the mark of "hyperthermals," warming events lasting thousands of years that changed the composition of the sediment and its color. The dark color in the large sediment core sample at left depicts the onset and aftermath of a 55-million-year-old warming event when changes in ocean temperatures altered the composition of marine life.

Richard Norris in his lab with ancient sediments obtained by the Ocean Drilling Program reveal the mark of "hyperthermals," warming events lasting thousands of years that changed the composition of the sediment and its color. The dark color in the large sediment core sample at left depicts the onset and aftermath of a 55-million-year-old warming event when changes in ocean temperatures altered the composition of marine life.
The authors concluded that a release of carbon dioxide from the deep oceans was a more likely cause of the hyperthermals than other triggering events that have been hypothesized. The regularity of the hyperthermals and relatively warm ocean temperatures of the period makes them less likely to have been caused by events such as large melt-offs of methane hydrates, terrestrial burning of peat or even proposed cometary impacts. The hyperthermals could have been set in motion by a build-up of carbon dioxide in the deep oceans caused by slowing or stopping of circulation in ocean basins that prevented carbon dioxide release.

Norris noted that the hyperthermals provide historical perspective on what Earth will experience as it continues to warm from widespread use of fossil fuels, which has increased carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere nearly 50 percent since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution.
Hyperthermals can help scientists produce a range of estimates for how long it will take for temperatures to fully revert to historical norms depending on how much warming human activities cause.

"In 100 to 300 years, we could produce a signal on Earth that takes tens of thousands of years to equilibrate, judging from the geologic record," he said.

The scientists hope to better understand how fast the conditions that set off hyperthermals developed. Norris said that 50 million year old sediments in the North Sea are finely layered enough for scientists to distinguish decade-to-decade or even year-to-year changes.

Co-authors of the paper include researchers from the National Oceanography Centre Southampton at the University of Southampton in England and the Center for Marine Environmental Sciences, University of Bremen, Germany.

Birch Aquarium at Scripps Debuts its First Children's Book

DAVIS, AUBREY

Indonesian throughflow nutrient fluxes and their potential impact on Indian Ocean productivity

MAS Students Shine at Year-End Symposium