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Alumna Earns Top Honor Linked to Stable Isotope Research

Alumna Earns Top Honor Linked to Stable Isotope Research

Marilyn Fogel, an alumna of The University of Texas at Austin, was selected for the Victor Moritz Goldschmidt Award, the highest honor in geochemistry given annually to one scientist by the Geochemical Society.

Marilyn Fogel. Courtesy of UC Riverside.

Fogel earned her Ph.D. in botany and marine science from UT Austin in 1977 and went on to a career in academic and government science, including at the University of California, Riverside, where she is now a professor emerita. Fogel is best known for her work with stable isotope geochemistry, which she has used for studying ancient climate, animal behavior, ecology and astrobiology.

"The Goldschmidt Award is the society's highest honor, presented annually for major achievements in geochemistry over a career," said the Geochemical Society in a statement on its website. "Dr. Fogel revolutionized the use of stable isotopes in ecology, geochemistry and cosmochemistry."

While at UT Austin, Fogel worked with Chase Van Baalen, Patrick Parker and F. Robert Tabita studying carbon isotope fractionation. According to her Wikipedia page, she sold treats out of an ice cream truck to help cover her expenses in graduate school.

After earning her Ph.D., she completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the Carnegie Institute in Washington and went on to become a staff member at its Geophysical Lab. She was only the second woman to do so.

Fogel's research uses isotope ratios in ancient sediments and fossils to trace climate, diet and the movement of ancient species over time. She has been able to unravel why some ancient species went extinct and figured out what ancient humans used to eat.

A member of the National Academy of Sciences, Fogel also was the first woman to earn the Geochemical Society's Alfred Treibs Medal, an award that recognizes major achievements over a career in organic geochemistry. She was also elected as a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. She has served as the National Science Foundation Director of Geobiology and Low Temperature Geochemistry and was a Fulbright Scholar to Norway in 2006. She worked with the NASA Astrobiology Institute for years searching for evidence of life on other planets and was chief scientist on a Mars Analog expedition to one of the most remote parts of Norway.

In her spare time, she writes about her adventures in interdisciplinary science and living with ALS on her blog, Isotope Queen

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Monday, 30 January 2023

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