CMS News

Center students receive Excellence Award

We are pleased to announce that Ph.D. candidates Emilie Dunham, Daniel Dunlap, and Zachary Torrano have been awarded Graduate Excellence Awards by ASU's College of Liberal Arts and Science.

The college recognizes outstanding graduate students who have been nationally acknowledged through funded fellowships, scholarships, and grants. Eligible students receive funds to advance their research and are recognized at an annual ceremony in the spring.

Congratulations, Emilie, Daniel and Zack!

CLAS Excellence Award 2018

Nininger student travel award recipients

The Center for Meteorite Studies and the School of Earth and Space Exploration (SESE) are pleased to announce the winners of the 2018 Nininger Student Travel Award. The goal of this award is to support travel to the annual Lunar and Planetary Science Conference (LPSC) of up to 4 SESE undergraduate and graduate students to present their latest results.

The awardees are:
Daniel Dunlap
Daniel DunlapDaniel is a 5th year PhD candidate studying under Professor Meenakshi Wadhwa in the Isotope Cosmochemistry and Geochronology Lab at ASU. He uses both short-lived (Al-Mg and Mn-Cr) and long-lived (Pb-Pb) isotope systems to determine high precision ages of achondrites; achondrites are meteorites that have experienced varying degrees of heating which took place in the earliest epoch of Solar System history. His work specifically focuses on the ungrouped and underrepresented achondrites. By studying these achondrites, he hopes to expand our understanding of the timeline of igneous activity in the early Solar System. Read Daniel's LPSC abstract here.
Sierra Ferguson
Sierra FergusonSierra is a Ph.D. student in ASU’s School of Earth and Space Exploration, working with Professor Alyssa Rhoden. Her research currently focuses on the mid-sized moons of the Saturnian system, with a focus on Tethys, Rhea, and Dione. The investigations that she is conducting on these moons involve the tectonic structures, craters, and other surface features of the moons. She utilizes ArcGIS for the mapping of these surface features on mosaics that she created from the raw Cassini image data. An overarching goal of her research is to analyze the bombardment history of Saturn’s moons to aid in the determination of the ages of the mid-sized Saturnian satellites. Read Sierra's LPSC abstract here.
Alexandra Perez
Alexandra PerezAlexandra recently completed her M.S. studies with Professor Steve Desch in the ASU School of Earth and Space Exploration. Her research involves investigating the validity of the planetary embryo bow shock model by conducting dynamic crystallization experiments. Her results show that the most dominant chondrule texture, porphyritic, requires cooling rates < 1000 K/hr to form. The planetary embryo bow shock model therefore is a viable chondrule mechanism for the formation of most chondrules, although lower cooling rates would be preferred. Cooling rates in the bow shock model are inversely proportional to planet size, suggesting that the bow shock around a planetary embryo larger than Mars may better produce porphyritic textures. These results imply that large planetary embryos were present and on eccentric orbits during the first few million years of the Solar System’s history. Read Alexandra's LPSC abstract here.
Zachary Torrano
Zack TorranoZack is a Ph.D. candidate in the Center for Meteorite Studies, studying under Professor Meenakshi Wadhwa. He studies calcium-aluminum-rich inclusions (CAIs), which were the first solids formed in the early Solar System and thus preserve a record of the earliest processes and conditions in the solar nebula. At LPSC, he presented high-precision Cr, Ti, and Mg isotope measurements of a suite of CAIs that were analyzed on the Neptune MC-ICP-MS in ASU’s Isotope Cosmochemistry and Geochronology Laboratory. These samples showed resolvable mass-independent anomalies in both Ti and Cr isotopes, suggesting significant isotopic heterogeneity in the broader CAI-forming region in the protoplanetary disk. The "bulk" Al-Mg isochron yields a canonical 26Al/27Al value, consistent with homogeneous distribution of 26Al in the solar nebula. Read Zack's LPSC abstract here.

CMS at Lunar & Planetary Science Conference

This March, several members of the Center for Meteorites Studies presented new findings at the 49th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference (LPSC), in Houston, Texas. 

The Center's presentations covered a range of topics in meteoritics and cosmochemistry, including meteorites from asteroid Vesta, carbonaceous chondrites, meteorite petrology, the solar wind, and processes in the early Solar System. 

Learn more about current research in the Center here, and read our latest conference abstracts here!

  • CMS lunch at LPSC 2018
    Center reunion lunch - former and current CMS members gather every year at LPSC. Photo: ASU/CMS.

Meteorite curling with Team Isotopes

The clean lab curlers of Team Isotopes were in Las Vegas this weekend, for the World Men's Curling Championship! 

Thanks to Curling Las Vegas, Team Isotopes got to meet men's Olympic curling gold medalists John Shuster, Matt Hamilton, and Joe Polo, who took on the budding sport of meteorite curling – video below!

The Center Ph.D. candidates used specimens designated as touchable meteorites, including a piece of the Canyon Diablo iron meteorite (seen below, mounted on a piece of protective plastic while used on ice), and participated in a curling + meteorites STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) event while in Las Vegas.

Team Isotopes also recorded a Meteorites + Curling video with Team Shuster (watch below!), and hosted the touchable meteorites at the Team USA pre-competition pep rally.

Want to touch a rock from space? Learn more about our upcoming events here, and our Meteorite Gallery here!

  • Members of Team Isotopes (Daniel Dunlap, Zack Torrano, Soumya Ray and Gabriel Franco) with their coaches (Cameron Mercer and Prof. Steve Desch) and Team Shuster. Photo: ASU/CMS


Center student wins Summer Exploration Graduate Fellowship

Congratulations to Center for Meteorite Studies Ph. D. student Soumya Ray, who has been awarded a Summer Exploration Graduate (SEG) Fellowship!

Soumya RayThe SEG Fellowship Program encourages and supports summer exploration activities by graduate students  in all of the research areas within the School of Earth and Space Exploration. The SEG Fellowship Program seeks creative and innovative ideas from graduate students to augment, improve or complement their on-going research efforts via a new exploration-based activity.

Soumya's research in the Center involves measuring the Fe isotope fractionation in achondrite meteorites, as well as analyzing their Si isotope composition, in the ultra clean Isotope Cosmochemistry and Geochronology Laboratory. Her Fe isotope work on aubrites, in particular, has provided new insight into the formation of metal nodules in these unique meteorites.

She recently presented her work at the 49th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference, held in Houston, Texas:

Scrutinizing Six Silicide-Bearing Samples of Metal from the Norton County Aubrite
L. A. J. Garvie, S. Ray, M. Wadhwa, A. Wittmann, K. Domanik

Welcome, Dr. Jemma Davidson!

The Center for Meteorite Studies is pleased to welcome Dr. Jemma Davidson!
Dr. Jemma DavidsonDr. Davidson received her M. Sc. in Geochemistry from Durham University in 2006, followed by a Ph. D. in Cosmochemistry and Planetary Science from the Open University in 2009. She brings considerable expertise in Isotope Cosmochemistry and in a variety of analytical methods such as NanoSIMS.
As an Assistant Research Scientist in the Center, Dr. Davidson  will perform correlated analyses of Icelandic basalts as proxies for understanding magmatic processes and water cycling on Mars.
She has also undertaken petrographic and isotopic studies of carbonaceous chondrites (and their organic and presolar grain inventories) that investigate meteorite formation in the early Solar System and subsequent parent body alteration.
Her analytical specialties include SIMS (Secondary Ionization Mass Spectrometry; including NanoSIMS), EPMA (Electron Probe Microanalysis), Raman spectroscopy, and Scanning Transmission X-ray Microscopy (STXM) based X-ray Absorption Near-Edge Spectroscopy (XANES).

Clean lab curling – go, Team Isotopes!

ICGL curlingMembers of the Center's clean lab curling team (seen here, training for the Clean Lab Olympics) were recently featured in a tweet by Center Director Meenakshi Wadhwa.  The photo was not only retweeted by Curling Las Vegas, but also by @TeamShuster, the 2018 Men's Olympic curling gold medalists.  Go, Team Isotopes!

Sun Devil Giving Day is March 22

March 22 is Sun Devil Giving Day – 24 hours to show the world what you can accomplish when you join forces to support Arizona State University!
This day of giving is a way for you to support the Center for Meteorite Studies (CMS). Every dollar counts, and your gift helps support our pursuit of new knowledge about the origin of our Solar System through the study of meteorites and other planetary materials in a variety of ways, including ­ research initiatives, conservation and growth of the Center's meteorite collection, and educational activities.
You can choose to support the Center by visiting the CMS giving page anytime on March 22!
Check out real-time fundraising totals and your chances to double your investment on the Sun Devil Giving Day website!
You can get ready for Sun Devil Giving Day today:
  • Visit to learn more about all of the amazing opportunities to show your support.
  • Follow the ASU Foundation on Facebook and Twitter for the latest Sun Devil Giving Day announcements and contest information.
  • Tell your friends about Sun Devil Giving Day so they can be a part of the celebration.
Sun Devil Giving DayIndividually, each of us is part of ASU’s rich tradition of giving.  Collectively, we are changing the world and expanding our universe.
Join us on March 22 as we show the world what the Sun Devil Nation can do when we give together!
All funds will be deposited with the ASU Foundation for A New American University, a non-profit organization that exists to support Arizona State University (ASU). Gifts in support of ASU are subject to foundation policies and fees. Your gift may be considered a charitable contribution. Please consult your tax advisor regarding the deductibility of charitable contributions.