Kathy Licht Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Earth Sciences
Geology Club Advisor


Ph.D., Geological Sciences, University of Colorado, Boulder, 1999

M.S., Geological Sciences, University of Colorado, Boulder, 1995

B.S., Natural Science, St. Norbert College, 1992

Awards & Honors

IUPUI School of Science Research Award (2014)


Previous & Current Graduate Students:

Liana Agrios (M.S. in progress)
Christine Kassab (Ph.D. in progress)
Theresa Dits (defended)
Charles Goodwin - Manager at ENVIRON International Corp.
Nicole Bader - Geologist at Ayers Associates
Bethany Welke - Microscopy analysis technician, Exxon
Andrea (Schilling) Hennessy - Science coordinator, Club Z! tutoring
Emerson Palmer - Geologist, Noble Energy
Kate Kramer - Lecturer, McHenry County College
Jennifer Nelson - Lecturer, IUPUI
Jason Lederer - Research Specialist at Summit County Open Space and Trails program

Teaching Assignments

I regularly teach courses at the introductory level (Oceanography and Antarctic Geology), intermediate level (Principles of Sedimentation and Stratigraphy) and the graduate level (Glacial Geology).

Current Research

Overall my research focuses on understanding the history of the Antarctic ice sheet so we can better understand what causes it to advance and retreat and how that fits in with the global climate system.

My most recently funded project investigates the compositional variation of tills across two concentric sequences of Pleistocene moraines located adjacent to the heads of East Antarctic outlet glaciers in the Transantarctic Mountains (TAM). The proposed work will allow us to assess till composition changes through time, set in a chronologic framework generated from cosmogenic exposure ages of boulders on prominent morainal ridges. Variations in till composition may indicate a change in ice flow direction or a change in the original source area’s composition, while the ages of the moraines provide a long-term terrestrial perspective on ice sheet dynamics. Both are vital for modeling experiments that aim to reconstruct the East Antarctic Ice Sheet and assess its role in the global climate system.

As such, the scientific objectives of the proposed work dovetail with an international effort strongly focused on studying and modeling Antarctic ice sheet history, in part because of its potential impact on global sea level rise. The variation of till compositions through time also allows for better down core interpretation of cores from the Ross Sea and the Southern Ocean. Additionally, till exposures at the head of some East Antarctic outlets have been shown to contain subglacial material derived from East Antarctic bedrock, providing a window through the ice with which to view East Antarctica’s inaccessible bedrock.

Select Publications

Licht, K.J., *Hennessy, A.J., and *Welke, B.M., 2014. The U/Pb detrital zircon signature of West Antarctic ice stream tills in the Ross Embayment, with implications for LGM ice flow reconstructions.  Antarctic Science 26, 687-697.

Licht, K.J., and *Palmer, E.F., 2013.  Erosion and transport by Byrd Glacier, Antarctica during the last glacial maximum.  Quaternary Science Reviews, v.62, p.32-48.

*Palmer, E.F., Licht, K.J., Swope, R.J., and Hemming, S.R., 2012. Nunatak moraines as a repository of what lies beneath the East Antarctic ice sheet, in Rasbury, E.T., Hemming, S.R., and Riggs, N.R., eds., Mineralogical and Geochemical Approaches to Provenance. Geological Society of America Special Paper 487, 97–104, doi:10.1130/2012.2487(05).

Goodge, J., Fanning, M., *Brecke, D., Licht, K., *Palmer, E., 2010.  Continuation of the Laurentian Grenville province across the Ross Sea margin of Antarctica.  Journal of Geology, v. 118, p. 601-619.

*Nelson, J.A., Licht, K., Yansa, C., and Filippelli, G., 2010. Climate-related cyclic deposition of carbonate and organic matter in Holocene lacustrine sediment, Lower Michigan, USA.  Journal of Paleolimnology. DOI: 10.1007/s10933-009-9381-0

Farmer, G.L., Licht, K., Swope, R.J., and Andrews, J.T., 2006.  Isotopic constraints on the provenance of fine-grained sediment in LGM till from the Ross Embayment, Antarctica.  Earth and Planetary Science Letters, v.249, p.90-107.

Licht, K.J., *Lederer, J.R., and Swope, R.J., 2005. Provenance of LGM Glacial Till (sand fraction) across the Ross Embayment, Antarctica.  Quaternary Science Reviews, v.24, p.1499-1520.

*Student authors