Lab researchers receive awards from The Meteoritical Society

Sept. 6, 2016
awards

The Meteoritical Society honored two Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory researchers during their annual meeting that occurred recently in Berlin, Germany. Researcher Greg Brennecka was awarded the Nier Prize for his work on isotopic variations in meteorites and the chronology of the Solar System. Carolyn Crow, a postdoctoral researcher, was awarded the Gordon A. McKay Award for her presentation at last year’s meeting, “U-Xe Degassing Ages of Terrestrial and Lunar Impact Zircons.” (Download Image)

Lab researchers receive awards from The Meteoritical Society

The Meteoritical Society honored two Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) researchers during their annual meeting that occurred this month in Berlin, Germany.

Carolyn Crow, a postdoctoral researcher in the Nuclear and Chemical Sciences Division who studies impact signatures recorded in lunar and terrestrial zircons, won the Gordon A. McKay Award for her presentation at last year’s meeting, “U-Xe Degassing Ages of Terrestrial and Lunar Impact Zircons.”

Crow discussed methods of using lunar zircon crystals to measure the magmatic and impact histories of the Moon, especially the formation histories of large basins. These basins are key in the debate about the existence of a spike in lunar impacts called Late Heavy Bombardment. Crow explained: “If many of the lunar basins formed within a short interval around 3.9 billion years ago, it would have implications for our understanding of the dynamical evolution of the solar system and the conditions present when life emerged on Earth.”

The Gordon A. McKay Award is given to the member who is a full-time student and gives the best oral presentation at the Meteoritic Society’s annual meeting. The award began in 2009 in memory of NASA planetary scientist Gordon A. McKay.

“I think good communication skills are important for all scientists to develop, and I’m honored to be recognized by the Meteoritical Society for my presentation at last years meeting,” said Crow.

Greg Brennecka, a researcher at LLNL between 2006 and 2014 who studies the importance of supernovae in the early Solar System, was awarded the Nier Prize for his work on isotopic variations in meteorites and the chronology of the Solar System.

His work with fellow LLNL scientists Lars Borg and the late Ian Hutcheon led to an understanding of why uranium isotopes vary on Earth, and also to the discovery of variations in uranium isotopes in meteorites, which was previously thought to not exist. This discovery changed the way the Solar System’s age is calculated, making it younger than previously considered.

The Nier Prize recognizes outstanding research in meteoritics for scientists under 35 years old. The prize was established in 1995 to honor physicist Alfred O. C. Nier, a pioneer in mass spectrometry and, fittingly, the first to separate the U-235 isotope as well as being a key player in determining the Earth’s age.

“It is quite an honor, especially given the parallels of Nier’s research with my own. But this prize is a real testament to the great people I have been fortunate enough to work with and learn under to this point in my career. I get to work on things I am really interested in with people I like working with, it doesn’t get much better than that.” said Brennecka.

Brennecka is now a researcher at the Institut für Planetologie at the University of Münster.