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Buseck Center for Meteorite Studies

2024 Nininger Travel Award recipients announced

The Buseck Center for Meteorite Studies and School of Earth and Space Exploration are pleased to announce the winners of the 2024 Nininger Student Travel Award. The goal of this award is to support attendance of the annual Lunar and Planetary Science Conference (LPSC) for at least 4 undergraduate and/or graduate students to present their latest research.

The awardees are:

Anuva Anannya is a 2nd year Ph.D. student in the School of Earth and Space Exploration working with Drs. Rhonda Stroud, Kelin Whipple, and Philip Christensen. Her primary research focuses on martian surface processes with Drs. Whipple and Christensen and her secondary research is on the microstructure and mineralogy of presolar grains with Dr. Stroud. At LPSC, she will present her research on the microstructure and compositional analysis of a possible circumstellar-interstellar presolar grain-aggregate in the CM chondrite Asuka-12169. The results have important implications for the dust formation processes and conditions in the circumstellar and interstellar environments in which the aggregate grains have been hypothesized to have formed. This work was done in collaboration with Drs. Rhonda Stroud and Larry Nittler at ASU and Dr. Jens Barosch at the University of Wisconsin-Madison


Andrea Distel is a 3rd year Ph.D. candidate in the School of Earth and Space Exploration working with Drs. Meenakshi Wadhwa and Richard Hervig. Her research focuses on measuring trace hydrogen in nominally anhydrous minerals (NAMs) in lunar samples in the Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometry (SIMS) lab at ASU. At LPSC, Andrea will present a correlated data set for the water contents, hydrogen isotopes, and Fe and Cr valences in pyroxene and olivine for the lunar basaltic breccia meteorite Elephant Moraine (EET) 87521. This research specifically discusses the potential effects of secondary alteration processes that may have affected the D/H ratios in the NAMs of EET 87521, and therefore, has important implications for the lunar volatile community. This work was done in collaboration with Drs. Stephen Sutton and Antonio Lanzirotti at GSECARS and Dr. Jemma Davidson.


Cassandra Kraver is an undergraduate student in the School of Earth and Space Exploration working with Dr. Larry Nittler. Cassandra investigates isotopic anomalies of deuterium and nitrogen-15 in two Ryugu particles – A0079 and A0169 – using NanoSIMS measurements to characterize the sub-micron organic grains that make up these particles. This work assists in characterizing the diversity of isotopic compositions of these isotopically anomalous grains, which in turn indicates a diverse range of local environments during the grains’ formation. At LPSC, Cassandra will present her findings on these two Ryugu particles as well as the discovery of a highly unusual, tubular-shaped organic grain surrounding phyllosilicate material.


Eamonn Needham is a 5th year Ph.D. candidate working with Dr. Mélanie Barboni on terrestrial magma storage conditions and testing long held assumptions of lunar geochemistry and petrology. Much of the geologic history of the early Moon formation has been based on geochemical analyses of seemingly pristine clasts within impact breccias from the Apollo missions sample returns. For over fifty years, the assumptions of the clast pristinity has been supported through textural observations of minerals within that clast. At LPSC, Eamonn will be presenting novel experimental and analytical results concerning aluminum in lunar zircon to geochemically demonstrate that the assumption of cogeneity and pristinity of clasts within lunar breccias does not actually hold, and even the most pristine clasts within lunar breccias exhibit pervasive chemical alteration. This calls into question the use of lunar whole-rock data, the late lunar formation hypothesis, and justification for the lunar formation model as a whole.