Center for Meteorite Studies


2015 Nininger Meteorite Award Recipient

The ASU Center for Meteorite Studies is pleased to announce that François Tissot, a graduate student at the University of Chicago, is the recipient of the 2015 Nininger Meteorite Award.

Francois TissotFrançois’s paper “Origin of uranium isotope variations in early solar nebula condensates” describes how the characterization of the U isotope composition of 12 fine-grained Calcium and Aluminum-rich Inclusions (CAIs: The earliest solids to form in the Solar System) demonstrates that the decay of Curium-247 is the main process responsible for the variability of the 238U/235U ratios of CAIs.

The discovery in the late 2000s that the 238U/235U ratios of meteoritic materials varied by up to several permil, meant that previously published Pb-Pb ages of CAIs (and thus of the Solar System) were unreliable. The cause of this variability has been heavily debated; some argued that it was due to 247Cm decay, while others preferred scenarios that invoked fractionation upon condensation. Despite numerous attempts since the late 1970s, until now, no study has been able to unambiguously show that 247Cm was alive in the early Solar System and could be responsible for the variable U isotope composition in CAIs.

By studying fine-grained CAIs depleted in U and potentially enriched in Cm, François and his co-workers were able to resolve excesses of 235U due to 247Cm decay reaching ~+6% relative to average Solar System composition. Combined with modeling of the chemical evolution of the galaxy, the early Solar System abundance of 247Cm points to a universality of the r-process of nucleosynthesis, provided that Hafnium-182 has an s-process origin. Multiple r-process sites have been considered in the past but may only be relevant to exotic conditions prevailing in the earliest generation of stars of the Galaxy.


Note that the application period for the 2016 Nininger Meteorite Award has closed.

History of the Award
In 1965, Dr. H.H. Nininger and Mrs. Addie D. Nininger endowed the Nininger Science of Meteoritics Fund to the Center for Meteorite Studies at Arizona State University in order to promote interest in meteorite-related topics among young scientists. The Fund supports the Nininger Meteorite Award, which recognizes outstanding student achievement in the “Science of Meteoritics” as embodied by an original research paper. Past recipients include Harry Y. McSween (University of Tennessee), Edward Stolper (California Institute of Technology) and the recipients of the 2010 Barringer Award (William K. Hartmann, Planetary Science Institute), 2002 Nier Prize (Dante Lauretta, University of Arizona), and 2005 Leonard Medal (Joseph Goldstein, University of Massachusetts, Amherst).
 
Download a list of the past recipients.
 
Permitted Topics
The original text of the Nininger endowment states that the "Science of Meteoritics embraces all aspects of the study of inert natural matter existing in space, passing through the atmosphere, or having come to Earth from space, together with any or all of the phenomena occasioned by its fall and its effect upon the Earth or upon any other member of the Solar System. Such science shall also be considered to include theoretical consideration as to the origin of such matter and special relationships". Research topics covered under this description include, but are not limited to, physical and chemical properties of meteorites, origin of meteoritic material and cratering. Observational, experimental, statistical or theoretical investigations are allowed.
 
Eligibility Requirements
  • Applicant must be an undergraduate or graduate student enrolled at a United States college or university.
  • The student must be first author of the paper, but does not have to be the sole author.
  • Paper must cover original research conducted by the student, and have been written, submitted or published between January 1, 2016 and December 31, 2016.
Application
As a part of your application, we require a letter of support from your advisor. Please have your advisor email the letter to nininger [at] asu.edu. When both your application and letter of support are on file, we will inform you that your application is complete. 
 


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