Inside Rensselaer
Volume 6, No. 14, September 28, 2012

Miriam Katz Named Ocean Leadership Distinguished Lecturer

Mimi Katz travels aboard the JOIDES (Joint Oceanographic Institutions for Deep Earth Sampling) Resolution, a seagoing research vessel that drills core samples and collects measurements from under the ocean floor, giving scientists a glimpse into Earth’s development.

Miriam Katz Named Ocean Leadership Distinguished Lecturer

Miriam Katz, assistant professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, is one of six scientists nationwide to be named a 2012-2013 Ocean Leadership Distinguished Lecturer.

The Distinguished Lecturer Series brings the discoveries of the international Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP) to undergraduate and graduate students and to the geoscience community. Lecturers are recommended by the U.S. Advisory Committee for Scientific Ocean Drilling.

Now through spring, Katz will travel across the country, presenting her research and serving as an ambassador for geoscience and IODP. She has participated in IODP research expeditions to the high-latitude South Atlantic, western North Atlantic, northeast Australian margin, Bahama Bank, Straits of Florida, and the New Jersey continental margin.

Katz’s research focuses on ocean circulation and sea level changes that have occurred over millions of years. She analyzes marine microfossils and sediment obtained via deep ocean drilling to reconstruct past ocean and climate conditions and understand the causal relationships among system components of climate change. Her research on the Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC) provided the first evidence that the ACC played a key role in the formation of the modern ocean structure, which contributed to the major global climate shift that began about 38 million years ago.

“Dr. Katz’s pioneering work provides important insights into how Earth’s climate has changed through time,” said Laurie Leshin, dean of the School of
Science. “Her appointment as a distinguished lecturer is a fitting honor for Dr. Katz and reflects the high quality of earth science research taking place at Rensselaer.”

“The series typically targets research universities and smaller institutions that don’t have a history of conducting research in oceanography and earth science,” Katz said. “We want to get students excited about the science, to share the experience of traveling around the world with international teams of scientists who are engaged in high-profile research.”

Katz’s combination of enthusiasm and accomplishment makes her an ideal choice for the Distinguished Lecturer Series. Her presentation will vary depending on the audience. Researchers and other members of the scientific community will hear about Katz’s findings on the progressive deepening of the ACC and the evolution of modern ocean currents. More general audiences will learn how fossil shells can be used to reconstruct both past sea level changes and a global warming event that happened 55 million years ago.

All audiences will get a sense of life aboard a research vessel, where 30 scientists from around the globe analyze samples unearthed from hundreds of meters beneath the ocean floor.

“My goal is to provide information that everyone can grasp and find interesting,” Katz said, “and to share the excitement of discovery.”

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Inside Rensselaer
Volume 6, Number 14, September 28, 2012
©2012 Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
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