JSG Students Receive Outstanding Presentation Awards from AGU

Agu100 Logo V CmykJackson School of Geosciences graduate students were among the top student presenters at the 2020 annual fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union (AGU).

The meeting took place in December 2020, but award winners are now in the process of being notified.

As of March 2, the following students have received an Outstanding Presentation Award (OSPA) from the AGU:

Emily Bamber, a first-year Ph.D. student

Ethan Conrad, a second-year Ph.D. student

Brandon Shuck, a fifth-year Ph.D. student

The purpose of the OSPA awards is to “promote, recognize, and reward undergraduate, master’s, and Ph.D. students for quality research in Earth and space science and the ability to effectively communicate it.”

OSPAs are awarded to the top presenters in each of the AGU’s student presentation sections (poster, oral and eLightning) who opt into having their presentations considered by OSPA judges.

Each year, about 2 to 5 percent of each section’s presenters receive an OSPA.

Congratulations to our 2020 winners!

Note:  Please contact the Jackson School’s Office of Communications with additional OSPA awardees who should be added to the list.

Jackson School of Geosciences 2020 OSPA winners


Marsheadshot Copy

Emily Bamber

Poster: Insight Into Erosion and Lake-Filling Process from Crater Rim Fluvial Breaches on Mars

Emily Bamber is a first-year doctoral student advised by Assistant Professor Tim Goudge. Bamber studies the hydrological histories of impact crater lakes on Earth, Mars and other planets using fieldwork, satellite observations and modeling.

Bamber won an OSPA for her poster presentation on how paleolakes on Mars once filled – and overflowed from – craters.

“I was pretty surprised to have won,” Bamber said. “It was a nice way to end the year and a nice pick-me-up to have positive news.”

2020 was Bamber’s first time attending an AGU annual meeting, although the meeting’s virtual format meant a new experience for everyone. Bamber said that she enjoyed how the virtual setting enabled more interactive posters. Bamber’s own poster includes a slideshow of Martian paleolakes and a recording of her presenting key research takeaways in about two-and-a-half minutes.

Bamber said that an effective research presentation clearly defines the research question and its broader impacts.

“Really pound home why your work is important and how it links to the broader picture, and what’s going on in your sub-field,” she said.

Ethan ConradEthan Conrad

Poster: New data on the stick-slip mechanics of seismogenic faults from rotary shear experiments

Ethan Conrad is second year doctoral student advised by professors Claudio Faccenna, Nicola Tisato, Thorsten Becker, and Daniel Stockli. Conrad studies the interaction between tectonics and surface processes at plate boundaries.

Conrad won an OSPA award for his poster presentation on data from stick-slip experiments aimed at studying materials that can stand in as Earth analogs in laboratory experiments.

“When I learned I won the award I reacted with a combination of disbelief and excitement. I applied for the contest from a hotel room when I was doing fieldwork in California. It really felt like a long shot,” Conrad said. “Overall, I feel encouraged and motivated after winning the award.”

Conrad said that the analog materials are being used in a model that simulates coupled tectonic and geomorphic processes. The research analyzed the material’s deformational behavior with varying parameters, such as varying water content, normal load, and shear loading rate.


Brandon 1Brandon Shuck

Recorded Talk: Advances in plate tectonics: interdisciplinary approaches to understanding the separation of continents and initiation of subduction zones at GeoPRISMS primary sites.

Brandon Shuck is a fifth-year doctoral student co-advised by Jackson School research scientists Harm Van Avendonk and Sean Gulick. Shuck studies tectonic plate boundaries and is preparing to defend his doctoral thesis in the summer.

Shuck won an OSPA award for a talk that highlighted themes from his Ph.D. research. The talk synthesized common geologic elements from subduction zones and continental rifts to illustrate a holistic view of Earth’s plate tectonic cycle.

“It definitely felt great,” Shuck said about winning the award. “I took somewhat of a gamble in that I presented on a synthesis of two separate topics and research areas that are typically considered very different. It was difficult to communicate this connection, but in the end it paid off.”

The OSPA award includes feedback from a panel of presentation evaluators. One evaluator summed up Shuck’s talk with the follow comment: “This was a very good, well-prepared talk, presenting exciting results in proper context. Great science wrapped up in great presentation skills.”

For more information, contact: Anton Caputo, Jackson School of Geosciences, 512-232-9623; Monica Kortsha, Jackson School of Geosciences, 512-471-2241.