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Student successes in graduate school: Christine Kassab

Christine Kassab | Ph.D. Student, Earth Sciences | Department of Earth Sciences I had the opportunity to spend 8 weeks in Antarctica conducting field work for my dissertation research.

What degree are you working toward?

Ph.D. in Applied Earth Science

Why did you choose graduate school at IUPUI?

I chose to come to IUPUI because of my adviser, Dr. Kathy Licht. While working on my master’s degree at Purdue University, I had the opportunity to take a class that was being jointly taught between Dr. Licht at IUPUI and Dr. Jon Harbor at Purdue. I was very interested in the research that Dr. Licht was doing and was presented with an opportunity to work on an NSF funded project utilizing a variety of research methods to investigate the formation and evolution of a moraine sequence in Antarctica. In addition to the project, the small size of the Earth Sciences Department attracted me.

What has been your favorite academic accomplishment since you’ve been here?

I had the opportunity to spend 8 weeks in Antarctica conducting field work for my dissertation research. Three weeks were spent at the United States year-round field station, McMurdo Station, prepping for field work and then processing samples after field work. The other five weeks were spent out in the field collecting data. It was an experience to be relatively isolated from the rest of the world as we camped in tents on the side of the Law Glacier in the Transantarctic Mountains.

Please provide some details about your work/research as a graduate student and/or any activities you are involved in.

My research is focused on understanding the development and evolution of a blue ice moraine sequence in the central Transantarctic Mountains, Antarctica. As glaciers flow, they entrain debris which is then deposited by the ice. In this case, as ice flow is obstructed by the side of a mountain, it moves up to the surface and sublimates, exposing the debris that it is carrying. As the ice flow continues to be obstructed, younger ice is brought to the surface creating a time transgressive deposit of debris from the debris that was exposed first (oldest) to the debris that is presently being exposed closest to the active ice margin. These moraines potentially contain a record of how the glacier and possibly the ice sheet that the glacier is flowing from have behaved over multiple glacial cycles, but not much is known about how these moraines develop and evolve and the controlling factors. Understanding this will give us an idea of how the ice sheet may have behaved in the past during warming and cooling periods, which will assist with understanding how the ice sheet may change in the future with the trend of climate change.

Christine is also a recipient of the IUPUI Travel Fellowship award. Read more about her Travel Fellowship here »