Mars Rover Exploration Scientist to Speak at MSU

A scientist involved with the Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity will speak at a new geosciences and environmental sciences series at Midwestern State University Thursday. Dr. John Grant will present results from the Mars Science Lab at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 24 in Bolin Science Hall 100. Grant is the Mars Laboratory Participating Scientist for the Center for Earth and Planetary Studies at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.

Grant joined the Smithsonian in the fall of 2000 as a geologist at the Center for Earth and Planetary Studies at the National Air and Space Museum. He has been a member of the science team for the Mars exploration rovers since 2002 and is one of six Science Operations Working Group Chairs responsible for leading day-to-day science planning of the rovers, which have been operating for more than five years on Mars. Grant also co-chaired the science community process for selecting the landing sites for the Spirit and Opportunity rovers. He has been interested in Mars ever since reading Ray Bradbury's The Martian Chronicles as a child.

Grant attended the State University of New York College at Plattsburgh and received his bachelor's degree, magna cum laude, in geology in 1982 and went on to earn a master's from the University of Rhode Island in 1986 and doctorate from Brown University in 1990, both in geology. His dissertation focused on the degradation of meteorite impact craters on Earth and Mars and he remains interested in understanding processes responsible for shaping planetary landscapes.

Grant is the second speaker in the new Geosciences and Environmental Science Colloquium Series aimed at showing students the diversity and importance of the geosciences and environmental science fields. MSU's new Robert L. Bolin Distinguished Professor of Petroleum Geology, Dr. Robert L. Meddaugh, was the inaugural speaker. The third speaker, Dr. Heather DeShon, will speak about using seismic tomography to image subduction systems with applications to Costa Rica-Nicaragua and Sumatra at 5:30 p.m. Nov. 7, in Bolin Science Hall 100.

DeShon is an Associate Professor of Geophysics at Southern Methodist University. She graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Science in the liberal arts from SMU in 1999, and received her Ph.D. in Earth Science from the University of California, Santa Cruz, in 2004. Her research focuses on understanding earthquake initiation and rupture complexity within subduction systems. She uses high-resolution earthquake relocation and tomography to explore the spatial and temporal relationships between seismic source characteristics and structural variability along subduction megathrust faults. More broadly, her research is aimed at improving the characterization of subduction zone seismic and tsunami hazards. Her current work focuses on the Costa Rica-Nicaragua and Sumatra subduction margins.

Dr. Jesse Carlucci, Assistant Professor of Geosciences at MSU, said that the series would feature three speakers in the fall and three in the spring. It is sponsored by the College of Science and Mathematics at MSU. For more information, contact Carlucci at jesse.carlucci@msutexas.edu.