President Matthew Scott on Kristine McDivitt Tompkins' 2017 Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy

"Steadfast in her commitment, Ms. Tompkins, together with her husband, acquired and donated millions of acres of unspoiled new parklands to Chile and Argentina. This achievement rendered the couple the most successful park-oriented conservationists in history."

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Washington, DC—Rock samples from northeastern Canada retain chemical signals that help explain what Earth’s crust was like more than 4 billion years ago, reveals new work from Carnegie’s Richard Carlson and Jonathan O’Neil of the University of Ottawa. Their work is published by Science.   There is...
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  • The amount of time it takes for an ecosystem to recover from a drought is an important measure of a drought’s severity. During the 20th century, the total area of land affected by drought increased, and longer recovery times became more common, according to new research published in Nature by a group of scientists including Carnegie’s Anna Michalak and Yuanyuan Fang.

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    For more than four decades, Jacques-Yves Cousteau’s beloved research vessel, Calypso, explored the world’s oceans. And on Monday night, we explored his journey from inventor and diving enthusiast to dedicated conservationist as we screened the U.S. premiere of the film L’Odysseé at our DC headquarters.

    “He brought the marine world into homes across the globe—including my own—and helped people understand what made these ecosystems so special and worthy of protection,” said Carnegie President Matthew Scott at the start of the evening.

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According to one longstanding theory, our Solar System’s formation was triggered by a shock wave from an exploding supernova. It injected material from the exploding star into a neighboring cloud of dust and gas, causing it to collapse in on itself and form the Sun and its surrounding planets. New work offers fresh evidence supporting this theory, modeling the Solar System’s formation beyond the initial cloud collapse and into the intermediate stages of star formation.

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Applying big data analysis to mineralogy offers a way to predict undiscovered minerals, as well as where to find new deposits, according to a groundbreaking study from Carnegie's Robert Hazen and Shaunna Morrison. They report the first application to mineralogy of network theory, which is best known for analyses of the spread of disease, terrorist networks, and Facebook connections. The results, they say, pioneer a potential new way to reveal mineral diversity and distribution worldwide, mineral evolution through deep time, and undiscovered deposits of valuable minerals such as gold or copper. 

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The Geophysical Laboratory’s Postdoctoral Associate Zachary Geballe has been honored with Carnegie’s seventh Postdoctoral Innovation and Excellence (PIE) Award. These prizes are made through nominations from the departments and are chosen by the Office of the President. Geballe, in Viktor Struzhkin’s lab, was awarded the prize for his scientific innovations and community service to the Broad Branch Road (BBR) campus.

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Carnegie’s Benjamin Shappee is part of a team of scientists, including an Australian amateur astronomer, which discovered a new comet last week.

Called the All Sky Automated Survey for Supernovae (ASAS-SN), the international collaboration, which is headquartered at the Ohio State University, uses a network of eight 14-centimeter telescopes around the world to scan the visible sky every two or three nights looking for very bright supernovae.

But this time out they found something else—a comet. 

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Carnegie Academy for Science Education
Scientific literacy is now recognized to be crucial for our nation's progress in the 21st century. The Carnegie Institution, a pre-eminent basic research organization, has fostered the development of scientific knowledge since the early 20th century. For many years, this meant the training of...
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Monitoring tropical deforestation and forest degradation with satellites can be an everyday activity for non-experts who support environmental conservation, forest management, and resource policy development. Through extensive observation of user needs, the Greg Asner team developed CLASlite ( the...
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The MESSENGER (MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging) mission to orbit Mercury following three flybys of that planet is a scientific investigation of the planet Mercury. Understanding Mercury, and the forces that have shaped it is fundamental to understanding the terrestrial...
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Capital Science Evening Lectures
Thursday, September 28, 2017 - 6:30pm to 7:45pm

Membrane fusion is a universal process that allows cells to deploy tiny, enclosed, fluid-filled structures called vesicles to store and release packets of active substances.  This system allows...

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Capital Science Evening Lectures
Wednesday, October 25, 2017 - 6:30pm to 7:45pm

What does it mean to be a habitable planet? How can we find life if it’s truly “alien” and different from life on Earth? And what techniques can we use to search for life on worlds orbiting...

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Capital Science Evening Lectures
Wednesday, December 13, 2017 - 6:30pm to 7:45pm

There are an estimated 150 million children living with disabilities worldwide. Thanks to recent advances in robotics, therapeutic intervention protocols using robots are now ideally positioned to...

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There is a lot of folklore about left-brain, right-brain differences—the right side of the brain is supposed to be the creative side, while the left is the logical half. But it’s much more complicated than that. Marnie Halpern studies how left-right differences arise in the developing brain and...
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Frederick Tan holds a unique position at Embryology in this era of high-throughput sequencing where determining DNA and RNA sequences has become one of the most powerful technologies in biology. DNA provides the basic code shared by all our cells to program our development. While there are about 30...
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Andrew Steele uses traditional and biotechnological approaches for the detection of microbial life in the field of astrobiology and Solar System exploration. Astrobiology is the search for the origin and distribution of life in the universe. A microbiologist by training, his principle interest is...
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Carnegie Science, Carnegie Institution, Carnegie Institution for Science, William and Leander Anderegg
August 9, 2017

Washington, DC— The amount of time it takes for an ecosystem to recover from a drought is an important measure of a drought’s severity. During the 20th century, the total area of land affected by drought increased, and longer recovery times became more common, according to new research published by Nature by a group of scientists including Carnegie’s Anna Michalak and Yuanyuan Fang.

Scientists predict that more-severe droughts will occur with greater frequency in the 21st century, so understanding how ecosystems return to normal again will be crucial to preparing for the future. However, the factors that influence drought recovery have been largely unknown until now.

Carnegie Science, Carnegie Institution, Carnegie Institution for Science, Alan Boss
August 3, 2017

Washington, DC— According to one longstanding theory, our Solar System’s formation was triggered by a shock wave from an exploding supernova. The shock wave injected material from the exploding star into a neighboring cloud of dust and gas, causing it to collapse in on itself and form the Sun and its surrounding planets.

New work from Carnegie’s Alan Boss offers fresh evidence supporting this theory, modeling the Solar System’s formation beyond the initial cloud collapse and into the intermediate stages of star formation. It is published by The Astrophysical Journal.

One very important constraint for testing theories of Solar System formation is meteorite chemistry.

Carnegie Science, Carnegie Institution, Carnegie Institution for Science, RRUFF
August 1, 2017

Washington, DC—Applying big data analysis to mineralogy offers a way to predict minerals missing from those known to science, as well as where to find new deposits, according to a groundbreaking study.

In a paper published by American Mineralogist, scientists report the first application to mineralogy of network theory (best known for analysis of e.g. the spread of disease, terrorist networks, or Facebook connections).

The results, they say, pioneer a potential way to reveal mineral diversity and distribution worldwide, their evolution through deep time, new trends, and new deposits of valuable minerals such as gold or copper.

Led by Shaunna Morrison of the Deep

August 1, 2017

The Geophysical Laboratory’s Postdoctoral Associate Zachary Geballe has been honored with Carnegie’s seventh Postdoctoral Innovation and Excellence (PIE) Award. These prizes are made through nominations from the departments and are chosen by the Office of the President. Geballe, in Viktor Struzhkin’s lab, was awarded the prize for his scientific innovations and community service to the Broad Branch Road (BBR) campus.

Zack works on developing methods to measure the heat capacities of metals and silicates at high pressures. This work applies to developing new materials and studying the deep interiors of planets.   He developed a pioneering technique to measure heat in a diamond

September 28, 2017

Membrane fusion is a universal process that allows cells to deploy tiny, enclosed, fluid-filled structures called vesicles to store and release packets of active substances.  This system allows the organs in the body to use hormones to communicate with each other and for the brain to use neurotransmitters to send messages.  Similar vesicle packets distribute proteins within a cell, enabling the specialized organelles contained in each cell to function properly and to propagate in cell division.  Imbalances in these pathways contribute to diabetes and cancer, as well as immune and neurological diseases.

Dr. James E. Rothman, Nobel Laureate in Physiology or Medicine

October 25, 2017

What does it mean to be a habitable planet? How can we find life if it’s truly “alien” and different from life on Earth? And what techniques can we use to search for life on worlds orbiting distant stars? Drs. Arney and Domagal-Goldman will discuss the science behind these questions and the future telescopes that may provide the answers.

Drs. Giada Arney and Shawn Domagal-Goldman, Astrobiologists, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

#OtherEarths

December 13, 2017

There are an estimated 150 million children living with disabilities worldwide. Thanks to recent advances in robotics, therapeutic intervention protocols using robots are now ideally positioned to make an impact on this issue.  Dr. Howard will discuss the role of robotics and related technologies for therapy and highlight methods that bring us closer to the goal of integrating robots more fully into our lives.

Dr. Ayanna Howard, Professor, Linda J. and Mark C. Smith Endowed Chair, School of Electrical & Computer Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology
Chief Technology Officer, Zyrobotics

#PediatricRobotics

January 16, 2018

Charles Darwin said evolution was too slow to be observed, but modern studies have corrected this assertion. The Grants will discuss their decades of work studying Darwin’s finches on the Galápagos Island of Daphne Major, as chronicled in the Pulitzer Prize-winning book The Beak of the Finch: A Story of Evolution in Our Time. Their research showed that Darwin’s finches evolve repeatedly when the environment changes. They have even observed the initial stages of new species formation!

Drs. Peter and Rosemary Grant, Professors emeriti, Princeton University

#DarwinsFinches

Starting in 2005, the High Lava Plains project is focused on a better understanding of why the Pacific Northwest, specifically eastern Oregon's High Lava Plains, is so volcanically active. This region is the most volcanically active area of the continental United States and it's relatively young. None of the accepted paradigms explain why the magmatic and tectonic activity extend so far east of the North American plate margin. By applying numerous techniques ranging from geochemistry and petrology to active and passive seismic imaging to geodynamic modeling, the researchers examine an assemblage of new data that will provide key information about the roles of lithosphere structure,

Stem cells make headline news as potential treatments for a variety of diseases. But undertstanding the nuts and bolts of how they develop from an undifferentiated cell  that gives rise to cells that are specialized such as organs, or bones, and the nervous system, is not well understood. 

The Lepper lab studies the mechanics of these processes. overturned previous research that identified critical genes for making muscle stem cells. It turns out that the genes that make muscle stem cells in the embryo are surprisingly not needed in adult muscle stem cells to regenerate muscles after injury. The finding challenges the current course of research into muscular dystrophy, muscle

The WGESP was charged with acting as a focal point for research on extrasolar planets and organizing IAU activities in the field, including reviewing techniques and maintaining a list of identified planets. The WGESP developed a Working List of extrasolar planet candidates, subject to revision. In most cases, the orbital inclination of these objects is not yet determined, which is why most should still be considered candidate planets. The WGESP ended its six years of existence in August 2006, with the decision of the IAU to create a new commission dedicated to extrasolar planets as a part of Division III of the IAU. The founding president of Commission 53 is Michael Mayor, in honor of

The Anglo-Australian Planet Search (AAPS) is a long-term program being carried out on the 3.9-meter Anglo-Australian Telescope (AAT) to search for giant planets around more than 240 nearby Sun-like stars. The team, including Carnegie scientists,  uses the "Doppler wobble" technique to search for these otherwise invisible extra-solar planets, and achieve the highest long-term precision demonstrated by any Southern Hemisphere planet search.

John Mulchaey, director of the Observatories,  investigates groups and clusters of galaxies, elliptical galaxies, dark matter—the invisible material that makes up most of the universe—active galaxies and black holes. He is also a scientific editor for The Astrophysical Journal and is actively involved in public outreach and education.

Most galaxies including our own Milky Way, exist in collections known as groups, which are the most common galaxy systems and are important laboratories for studying galaxy formation and evolution. Mulchaey studies galaxy groups to understand the processes that affect most galaxies during their lifetimes.

As a graduate student, Mulchaey led

 Barry Madore is widely known for his work on Cepheid variables—very bright pulsating stars used to determine distances in the universe—plus his research on peculiar galaxies, and the extragalactic distance scale. He divides his time between directing science for NED, the NASA/IPAC Extragalactic Database, and research at Carnegie. His Carnegie work is to resolve discrepancies between observations of galaxies at different wavelengths, with what is happening during galactic evolution.

 Distant and older galaxies appear to be more ragged and disorganized than closer, younger ones. These appearances could be legitimate features, or the effects from the expansion of the universe, which

Matthew Evans wants to provide new tools for plant scientists to engineer better seeds for human needs. He focuses on one of the two phases to their life cycle. In the first phase, the sporophyte is the diploid generation—that is with two similar sets of chromosomes--that undergoes meiosis to produce cells called spores. Each spore divides forming a single set of chromosomes (haploid) --the gametophyte--which produces the sperm and egg cells.

Evans studies how the haploid genome is required for normal egg and sperm function. In flowering plants, the female gametophyte, called the embryo sac, consists of four cell types: the egg cell, the central cell, and two types of supporting

While the planets in our Solar System are astonishingly diverse, all of them move around the Sun in approximately the same orbital plane, in the same direction, and primarily in circular orbits. Over the past 25 years Butler's work has focused on improving the measurement precision of stellar Doppler velocities, from 300 meters per second in the 1980s to 1 meter a second in the 2010s to detect planets around other stars. The ultimate goal is to find planets that resemble the Earth.

Butler designed and built the iodine absorption cell system at Lick Observatory, which resulted in the discovery of 5 of the first 6 known extrasolar planets.  This instrument has become the de facto