Department Grows with New Faculty Member and Promotions to Full Professor

AUSTIN, Texas—This Spring, the Department of Geological Sciences is pleased to announce three changes to the faculty: the addition of a new faculty member as well as two promotions to full professor.

C Sun ResearchChenguang Sun joins the faculty as an assistant professor. Sun—who will receive the Mineralogical Society of America’s top honor for early-career scientists at the 2021 annual meeting in Portland, Oregon—studies the chemical evolution of the Earth and other rocky planets. By comparing geochemical/petrological models that are developed by high-temperature and high-pressure laboratory experiments to field samples and observations, he is able to decode the temperature, pressure, redox condition and rate of planetary processes.

Before joining the faculty at the Jackson School of Geosciences, Sun was a postdoctoral researcher at Rice University and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. He received his doctorate from Brown University in 2014.

“Chen is an expert in thermodynamics and planetary evolution bring exciting new research directions to the Jackson School,” said Sean Gulick, Research Professor and Associate Chair overseeing the Lithosphere and Deep Earth core research area in the department that is now broadened by Sun’s addition to the faculty. “We think that students will be invigorated by his offering a new introductory course in Planetary Habitability enabling students to consider co-evolution of life and planet, a challenging, interdisciplinary topic within the geosciences ripe for new research.”

Jaime Barnes Lde

The department is also happy to announce that two faculty members, Jaime Barnes and Daniel Breecker, will be promoted to the rank of Professor effective September 1, 2021.

Barnes has been a faculty member since 2009 after a postdoctoral position at and Ph.D from the University of New Mexico. She oversees one of the stable isotope labs where her research group traces signals left by fluids in various tectonic and geologic settings. Her research focus is 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. She has received several awards as an educator.

Also a member of the faculty since 2009, Breecker studies biogeochemical processes at or near Breeckerthe land surface to gain insight into ancient Earth. His research group uses observations, mathematical models and experiments on material that includes soils, stalagmites, and volcanic glass to address an evolving range of questions. He received his doctorate from the University of New Mexico and was a postdoc at the University of Arizona. He has redesigned and won awards for GEO 401, an introductory course for all majors in the department.

“Both Jaime and Dan have brought tremendous energy and creativity and strong commitments to research and teaching at UT Austin,” said Danny Stockli, Professor and departmental Chair. “Both are wonderful citizens, dedicated and talented educators, and innovative and visionary scientists. We are very proud of their academic accomplishments and delighted by their well-deserved promotions to the rank of Full Professor”.

Written by Kristin Phillips, Department of Geological Sciences