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Nininger meteorite award

The Center for Meteorite Studies is pleased to announce the application opportunity for the 2019-2020 Nininger Meteorite Award.

The Nininger Meteorite Award recognizes outstanding student achievement in the meteoritical sciences as embodied by an original research paper.  Papers must cover original research conducted by the student and must have been written, submitted, or published between January 1, 2019 and December 31, 2020

Applicants must be the first, but not sole, author of the paper and must have been enrolled in an undergraduate or graduate degree program at an educational institution in the United States at the time the paper was written, submitted, or published. 

The Nininger Award recipient receives $2,000 and an engraved plaque commemorating the honor.


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.
Previous Nininger Award Recipients
Previous Nininger Meteorite Award recipients. Clockwise from top right: Jonathan Lewis (2018), Emily Worsham (2017), François Tissot (2016), Roger Fu (2015).
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
  • Applicants must have been enrolled in an undergraduate or graduate degree program at an educational institution in the United States at the time the paper was written, submitted, or published. Overseas students visiting US institutions who are not enrolled at that institution are not eligible. 
  • 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, 2019 and December 31, 2020.
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] When both your application and letter of support are on file, we will inform you that your application is complete. All application documents must be submitted by midnight (PST) April 2, 2021.



2018 Nininger Meteorite Award Winners
We are pleased to announce that Jonathan Lewis, a NASA Postdoctoral Program Fellow at Johnson Space Center is the recipient of the Nininger Meteorite Award, and Zachary Torrano, a Ph.D. Candidate in the ASU School of Earth and Space Exploration received an Honorable Mention for the award.

Jonathan LewisJonathan’s paper “Chondrule porosity in the L4 chondrite Saratov: Dissolution, chemical transport, and fluid flow” (coauthored by Rhian Jones and Serafina Garcea) takes a close look at chondrule porosity to understand the chemical and physical effects of fluids present during thermal metamorphism.

Ordinary chondrite parent bodies were subjected to internal heating from the energetic decay of short-lived radioisotopes soon after their formation. As a result, ordinary chondrite meteorites exhibit increasing textural and chemical equilibration with increasing degrees of thermal metamorphism. While the presence of fluids during thermal metamorphism has been inferred from a variety of chemical and mineralogical signatures, the degree to which fluids facilitate the equilibration process is still under investigation. Because chondrules are not expected to form with significant porosity, chondrule pores can be used to understand parent body processes, particularly processes that involve the transport of fluids.

In this paper, the authors use X-ray microtomography in combination with scanning and transmission electron microscopy and X-ray chemical maps to investigate the role of fluids in developing and utilizing the porosity found within chondrules. The results indicate that chondrule pores in the L4 chondrite Saratov formed by fluid dissolution of mesostasis glass and that fluids subsequently infiltrated the pore network altering the mineralogy, mineral chemistry, and depositing new phases.

This is important because it shows that chemical equilibration in ordinary chondrites is not strictly a solid-state diffusional process resulting from thermal metamorphism, but rather a more complex process involving fluid-mediated chemical exchange between chondrules and matrix through pore networks.

Zack Torrano

Zachary's paper "Titanium isotope signatures of calcium-aluminum-rich inclusions from CV and CK chondrites: Implications for early Solar System reservoirs and mixing", investigates whether the isotope compositions of previously analyzed calcium-aluminum-rich inclusions (CAIs) are representative of CAIs from other chondrites and chondrite groups and, by extension, the broader CAI-forming region in the solar nebula.

CAIs are the oldest dated solids formed in our Solar System and therefore can provide us with important information about the initial isotopic composition of the Solar protoplanetary disk.  However, most previous isotopic studies of CAIs have been limited to inclusions from the Allende CV chondrite and a few CAIs from other CV, CO, CM, and ordinary chondrites.

In this study, the authors analyze the mass-independant Ti isotopic compositions of 23 CAIs of different petrologic and geochemical types, including 11 CAIs from the Allende CV meteorite as well as 12 CAIs from 7 different CV and CK chondrites. These include the first reported measurements of the Ti isotope compositions of CAIs from CK chondrites.

The authors found that the mass-independent Ti isotopic compositions of CAIs from CV and CK chondrites define a single population (consistent with previously reported Ti isotope data for CAIs from other CV, CO, CM, and ordinary chondrites), indicative of a common CAI-forming region in the early Solar System.  They further observed resolvable variation within this population, which indicates that some isotopic variability was present in the CAI-forming region.

This data, when taken in the context of previous studies, suggest that the isotopic reservoir from which CAIs formed was in the final stages of isotopic homogenization.