DeFord Lecture Series

DeFord Lecture Series Speaker Schedule

The DeFord (Technical Sessions) lecture series has been a requirement and a tradition for all graduate students since the late 1940s. Once the official venue for disseminating DGS graduate student research, the DeFord Lecture series is now the forum for lectures by distinguished visitors and members of our community. Faculty and researchers from the Jackson School have invited prestigious researchers from around the world to present a lecture in this series. This is made possible only through a series of endowments.

The list below shows all the scheduled talks this semester. If you would like to meet with any of the speakers, please contact them or their hosts directly.

DeFord Lecture Series Speaker Schedule 2020-2021 academic year

All talks are Thursdays from 4-5PM (CST) and are available to the public using the link below. Past lectures are posted (scroll to the end of the page), or see the Jackson School Youtube channel.

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Date Speaker/Affiliation Field/Title Hosts (if applicable) Lectureship (if applicable)
Jan. 21 Melissa Kemp

UT Austin


Biodiversity in the Anthropocene: a paleobiological perspective

Impact of Sea level change and colonization on Caribbean lizards; how extinction, diversification, and colonization are shaped by environmental perturbations; integration of macroevolutionary theory with paleobiology, ecology, and conservation biology by combining field, laboratory, and quantitative methods.

Rowan Martindale N/A
Jan. 28 Jennifer McIntosh

University of Arizona

Hydrogeochemist who works at the interface of hydrology, geochemistry, and microbiology to understand micro (pore) to macro (continental scale) processes throughout the earth’s crust. Regional hydrogeologic phenomena and geofluids. Reactive transport. Bayani Cardenas The Fred L. and Frances J. Oliver Lectureship in Texas Hydrology and Water Resources
Feb. 4 Kathleen Johnson

University of California Irvine

Speleothem researcher that specializes in reconstructing Asian monsoon and California coastal drought dynamics; utilizes instrumental climate data, paleoclimate data and isotope-enabled climate models to investigate the spatial and temporal patterns of natural climate variability, calibrate paleoclimate proxy data and investigate mechanisms of past climate variability.

Member of the Grand Traverse Band of Ottowa and Chippewa Indians and is actively researching with her native community.

Jay Banner and Darrel Tremaine The Robert H. Cuyler Endowed Lecture Series
Feb. 11 Christopher Griffin

Yale University

Growth and development of vertebrate animals, using methods from paleontology and developmental biology; Origin of major groups, the influence of growth and development on evolution, and the rapid bursts of change known as evolutionary radiations Sean O’donnell N/A
Feb. 18 Frances Rivera-Hernandez 

Georgia Tech

Planetary geologist focusing on using the sedimentary record to reconstruct what the surface of planetary bodies may have looked like in the past and to evaluate whether they had conditions capable of supporting life Tim Goudge N/A
Feb. 25 Davina L. Passieri


Developing integrated models of hydrodynamics and coastal morphology to predict short- and long-term coastal evolution and applying these models to assess coastal vulnerability to drivers such as storms and sea level rise to inform management decision-making Kathleen Wilson, David Mohrig, Clint Dawson N/A
Mar. 4 Laurel Larsen

UC Berkeley

How flowing water structures the form and function of landscapes, with emphases on the Florida Everglades, wet meadows across the US, and intermittent streams in coastal California; forefront of surface processes, ecology, and hydrology Bayani Cardenas The Fred L. and Frances J. Oliver Lectureship in Texas Hydrology and Water Resources
Mar. 11 Christopher Jackson

Imperial College London

Tectono-stratigraphic evolution of rift basins; salt tectonics; deep-water sedimentology and stratigraphy; use fieldwork and subsurface to study evolving fault segments, arrays, and how fault-related folds impact accommodation development in rift basins and, as a result, facies variations in and the sequence stratigraphy of coeval syn-rift strata; insights from the sedimentological and stratigraphic record to constrain the growth of rift-related structures.

See also Expedition Volcano.

Cole Speed, Paul Morris, Elizabeth Catlos The Judd H. and Cynthia S. Oualline Centennial Lectureship in Petroleum Geology
Mar. 25 Donna Shillington

Northern Arizona University

Deformation, magmatism and sedimentation at plate tectonic boundaries and in other interesting geological settings; use of active-source seismology together with other geophysical and geological approaches. Brandon Shuck N/A
Apr. 1 Rufus Catchings


Geophysical earthquake research, studying fault zones in Los Angeles, Beijing, and other places; precise locations and identification of faults at the surface using sensors to measure energy traveling within fault zones, and ratio of P- to S-wave velocities. Read more about his research and experience here. Sam Moore The Judd H. and Cynthia S. Oualline Centennial Lectureship in Geological Sciences
Apr. 8 Howard Zebker

Stanford University

Development of radar interferometry, leading to spaceborne and airborne sensors capable of measuring topography to meter-scale accuracy and surface deformation to mm scale. The high-quality surface deformation data set can be used to study a broad range of earth science topics, including earthquakes, volcanoes, groundwater flow, ice accumulation and ablation from global climate change, and atmospheric water vapor mapping. Ann Chen The Robert H. Cuyler Endowed Lecture Series 
Apr. 15 Praveen Kumar

University of Illinois

Hydrocomplexity, the quantitative understanding and prediction of emergent patterns of form and function that arise from complex non-linear multi-scale interactions between soil, water, climate, vegetation, and human systems; and how this understanding can be used for innovative solutions to water and sustainability challenges. Dev Nyogi The Fred L. and Frances J. Oliver Lectureship in Texas Hydrology and Water Resources
Apr. 22 Christine Chesley

Lamont Doherty/Columbia Univ.

Novel EM methods to study crustal and hydrological processes; freshwater resources offshore the NE US, and is also involved in imaging studies of subduction zones. Her work spans a range of processes and settings in areas of growing interest (water resources, subduction hazards) Demian Saffer N/A
Apr. 29 Marcelo Leppe

Chilean Antarctic Institute (INACH)

Triassic flora of southwestern Gondwana; study of the connections between South America and Antarctica during the Mesozoic (mainly Cretaceous) and the origin of the southern South American biotas; Chilean representative at Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR). Julia Clarke The Edwin Allday Lectureship
May 6 Dawn Wright


52 Million Points and Counting: A New Stratification Approach for Mapping and Modeling the Ocean

Chief Scientist of Esri; Seafloor mapping and tectonics, ocean conservation, environmental informatics, and ethics in information technology.

Sam Moore The Judd H. and Cynthia S. Oualline Centennial Lectureship in Geological Sciences
Past lectures, recordings to be posted or see the Jackson School Youtube channel
Aug. 27 Lisa White

University of California Museum of Paleontology


Paleontology meets social justice: who says we can’t make progress? Examples from new and planned virtual and actual exhibits at the UC Museum of Paleontology


Geologist and Director of Education and Outreach at the University of California Museum of Paleontology; Fellow of California Academy of Sciences; mentoring and promoting opportunities for geoscience majors; public outreach has been a major part of her career; Chair of the American Geophysical Union Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Committee and PI of the SF-ROCKS (Reaching Out to Communities and Kids with Science in San Francisco) to bring geoscience education to high school students and teachers in San Francisco; Co-PI on the NSF FIELD program (Fieldwork Inspiring Expanded Leadership and Diversity) to create more accessible, culturally sensitive, and inclusive field experiences, particularly for students underrepresented in the geosciences.

Sam Moore The Robert H. Cuyler Endowed Lecturer
Sept. 3 Sonia Seneviratne

ETH Zurich

Climate change and extreme events: Why every year matters


Climate scientist and lead author on recent reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Interests in climate extremes, land-​climate processes, and climate changes; uses modeling (climate modeling, land surface modeling), data analysis (based on observations, reanalysis data, model simulations, satellite data), new approaches for the derivation of validation datasets, and own field experiments. AGU fellow since 2014 and recipient of grants from European Research Council (Consolidator grant, 2014-2019, and Proof-of-concept grant, 2021-2022).

Zong-Liang Yang Judd H. and Cynthia S. Oualline Centennial Lectureship in Geological Sciences
Sept. 10 Nicole Gasparini

Tulane University

Evolution of the South Fork Eel River watershed: The known unknowns


Geomorphologist; key developer of a recent model called LandLab which handles temporal scales from including individual rainfall and flood events, up to long-time landscape evolution in which climate, lithology, and tectonics can be incorporated. She also works on questions of tectonic geomorphology, including controls on the evolution of the Andes and Puerto Rico.

Joel Johnson None
Sept. 15 Jaime Barnes

UT Austin

The role of the forearc in fluid-mobile elemental cycling through subduction zones


Broad spectrum of geochemistry, including stable isotope geochemistry, volatile cycling, metamorphism and volatile transport in subduction zones, serpentinization, and fluid-rock interactions and metasomatism in the high-T environment.

Sept. 17 Scott Tinker

Director, Bureau of Economic Geology

Switch Energy Alliance (SEA)

Global Energy Poverty  


Works to bring industry, government, academia, and non-governmental organizations together to address major societal challenges in energy, the environment, and the economy.

Recommended: watch Switch On, which explores energy across the developing world.

Sept. 24 Chris Walker



The importance of geoscientists through the energy transition: Carbon Capture, Use, and Storage project development


Structural geologist for BP, providing subsurface characterization of storage complexes for CO2 sequestration projects worldwide.; deputy leader of the Structural Geology Community of Practice responsible for delivering training, sharing learnings and building the structural capabilities of the geoscience population.; integration of diverse datasets and the effective communication of risks and uncertainties that impact business decisions.

Peter Flemings The Judd H. and Cynthia S. Oualline Centennial Lectureship in Geological Sciences
Oct. 1 Asmeret Asefaw Berhe

UC Merced

Looking deeper: role of sub-soils in Organic Matter Dynamics


Interests in soil science and global change science; understanding the effect of changing environmental conditions on vital soil processes, most importantly the cycling and fate of essential elements in the critical zone

Michael Young The Fred L. and Frances J. Oliver Lectureship in Texas Hydrology and Water Resources
Oct. 13 Jérôme Gaillardet

Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris

What the geochemistry of rivers tells us about critical zone processes and representation


Chemical potamology; the global role of chemical weathering in the Earth’s chemical engine; focus on the « drainage  basin » approach both at large scale and small scale; geochemistry of sediments transported by rivers and produced by chemical weathering in soils.

Dan Breecker, Evan Ramos, and Daniella Rempe The Fred L. and Frances J. Oliver Lectureship in Texas Hydrology and Water Resources
Oct. 22 Gaby Katul

Duke University

Evapotranspiration: From kinetic theory to the limits of plant life


Micro-meteorology and near-surface hydrology with emphasis on heat, momentum, carbon dioxide, water vapor, ozone, particulate matter, water transport in the soil-plant-atmosphere system and implications to hydrological, ecological, atmospheric and climate change-related problems; new modeling tools to diagnose forest vulnerability to drought in order to better predict the future of the water and carbon cycles

Ashley Matheny The Fred L. and Frances J. Oliver Lectureship in Texas Hydrology and Water Resources
Nov. 12 Sebnem Duzgun

Colorado School of Mines

Geospatial Big Data and AI for Geothermal Exploration

Research and teaching in mining engineering on mine closure and reclamation, quantitative sustainability assessment for mining projects, risk and safety analysis for coal mines, mine environmental monitoring using remote sensing, reliability-based design and analysis of rock slopes, uncertainty modeling in rock engineering, and interdisciplinary topics including geographic information systems.

Elizabeth Catlos The Judd H. and Cynthia S. Oualline Centennial Lectureship in Geological Sciences
Nov. 19 Deon Knights

West Virginia University

The fate of nutrients in coastal freshwater systems: Examples from Wax Lake Delta and the Great Lakes

Nitrogen processing in Arctic deltas and role of channel network orientation on flux to the coast; how deltas control the flux of terrestrially derived nitrate to the Arctic Ocean

David Mohrig N/A