2015 Speakers, DFH Lectures

The Origin of Life

picture of michael arthur

Michael Arthur is a sedimentary geologist/geochemist who specializes in the sedimentology and biogeochemistry of organic-carbon rich strata — modern and ancient. He is a Professor in the Department of Geosciences at Pennsylvania State University, where he has worked since 1990, and was Co-Director of the Marcellus Center for Outreach and Research at Penn State. He received his Bachelors and Masters Degrees at the University of California, Riverside, and a PhD from Princeton University. He has previously worked with the U.S. Geological Survey, the University of South Carolina, and the Graduate School of Oceanography at the University of Rhode Island. He is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Geophysical Union, and the Geological Society of America. Among other awards, he has received the Francis P. Shepard Medal in Marine Geology from the Society of Sedimentary Geology and the Lawrence L. Sloss Medal from the Geological Society of America. His research presently focuses on aspects of the sedimentology, stratigraphy and geochemical characteristics of the Marcellus Shale in the Appalachian Basin and the paleoceanography of Cretaceous oceanic anoxic events.

picture of richard feely

Richard A. Feely is a is a NOAA Senior Fellow at the NOAA Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory in Seattle WA. He also holds an affiliate full professor faculty position at the University of Washington School of Oceanography. His major research areas are carbon cycling in the oceans and ocean acidification processes. He received a B.A. in chemistry from the University of St. Thomas, in St Paul, Minnesota in 1969. He then went onto Texas A&M University where he received both a M.S. degree in 1971 and a Ph.D. degree in 1974. Both of his post-graduate degrees were in chemical oceanography. He is the past co-chair of the U.S. CLIVAR/CO2 Repeat Hydrography Program. He is also a member of the International Ocean Carbon Coordination Project (IOCCP) Scientific Steering Group, the SOLAS-IMBER Working Group on Ocean Acidification (SIOA), and is a member of the Advisory Board of the Ocean Acidification International Coordination Centre (OA-ICC). Dr. Feely has authored more than 260 refereed research publications, and received more than 30 awards (including Department of Commerce Gold Award in 2006 and Heinz Environmental Award in 2010) for his extraordinary efforts in identifying ocean acidity as an existing major challenge to the health of the ocean's food web. Logging more than 1,000 days at sea on over 50 scientific expeditions, Feely has played a leading role in examining the extent and impact of ocean acidification in open-ocean and coastal waters.

picture of Baerbel Hoenisch

Baerbel Hoenisch grew up in Germany and studied at the Universities of Bielefeld and Bremen, as well as the Alfred-Wegener-Institute for Polar and Marine Research in Bremerhaven. She received her Diploma in Biology in 1999 and her PhD in Natural Sciences in 2002. After moving to the US, she held academic positions at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University, the City University of New York at Queens College, the State University of New York in Stony Brook, and Bremen University. She is now an Associate Professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences and the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University. Baerbel is interested in the effect of global carbon cycle perturbations on climate and the oceans, in particular past variations of ocean acidity and its relation to atmospheric pCO2. As she was originally trained as a marine biologist, her research strategy often includes a biological component such as culture experiments with living marine calcifiers to validate proxies for past environmental conditions. She applies the resulting calibrations to reconstructing seawater carbonate chemistry and atmospheric CO2 variations through Earth history.

picture of joanie kleypas

Joanie Kleypas is a marine ecologist/geologist that focuses on how coral reefs and other marine ecosystems are affected by changes in the Earth's atmosphere and climate. Global warming, for example, is causing tropical ocean temperatures to increase faster than corals can adapt, resulting in high rates of coral bleaching. This is one of the major causes of the present, rapid degradation of coral reef ecosystems. Ocean acidification is another major threat to coral reefs, because as the oceans absorb much of the CO2 released to the atmosphere by fossil fuel burning and deforestation, seawater pH declines and reduces the ability of corals and many other organisms to build their skeletons and shells. Joanie strives to conduct research that guides efforts to conserve coral reefs and other marine ecoystems during the high-CO2 window that is inevitable over the next few decades. She is currently using high-resolution modeling to address these issues in the Coral Triangle, a region of extreme marine biodiversity in the western tropical Pacific.

picture of Jonathan Payne

Jonathan Payne received his B.A. in Geosciences from Williams College in 1997. After graduation, he spent two years working as a high school math and science teacher. He then returned to graduate school, earning his Ph.D. in Earth and Planetary Sciences from Harvard University in the spring of 2005. Following a post-doctoral fellowship at Penn State, he joined the faculty at Stanford University in the fall of 2005. His research addresses the relationship between environmental change and biological evolution in the fossil record, with a focus on mass extinction events and long-term trends in the ecological structure of marine ecosystems. He teaches courses for undergraduates in historical geology and invertebrate paleobiology and courses for graduate students in carbonate sedimentology, geobiology, and paleobiology.

Contact Prof. David Anastasio (610-758-5117) for additional details or answers to questions.

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The Annual Donnel Foster Hewett Lecture Series is sponsored by the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences and is supported by a bequest which was made to the department by one of its most distinguished alumni, Donnel Foster Hewett (more info).

Hewett matriculated at Lehigh University in September 1898. Following graduation in 1902, he spent another year at Lehigh as an assistant in metallurgy and mineralogy under the direction of Joseph Barrell. After Joseph Barrell moved to the Department of Geology at Yale in 1907, Hewett went there in 1909 to study geology and received his Ph.D.

In 1911, he joined the U.S. Geological Survey and his career with the organization spanned 60 years until his death in 1971. When in 1951, Donnel Foster Hewett reached the mandatory retirement age of 70, his full-time employment by the Survey was continued indefinitely by Presidential order. To a great host of geologists, he became a legend in his own time and was affectionately referred to as "Mr. Geological Survey" or "Mr. Manganese", the latter because of his devotion to and advancement of our understanding of the mineralogy and genesis of manganese ores.

During his career he received many honors:

  • Vice President, Geological Society of America in 1935 and 1945
  • President of the Society of Economic Geologists in 1936
  • Elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1937 and the Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1949
  • Distinguished Medal of the Department of the Interior in 1951
  • Penrose Medal in 1964
  • Honorary Ph.D. from Lehigh in 1942