Who we are


Alexandra Krull Davatzes
Alix Davatzes earned her BA in Geology from Pomona College in 1999 and her PhD in Geological and Environmental Sciences from Stanford University in 2007.  She did a brief postdoc at NASA Ames research center working with the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter HiRISE team.  Alix and her husband Nick moved to Philadelphia in 2008 to join the faculty at Temple University in the Department of Earth and Environmental Science.   Alix's research focuses on meteor impact processes and field studies of impactites in South Africa and Australia. She is particularly interested in learning what the meteor impacts can tell us about the crust and environmental conditions on planetary bodies throughout the inner solar system.  She is also involved in the Spatial Intelligence and Learning Center, a NSF Science of Learning Center, working with psychologists to understand spatial reasoning and conceptions of deep time in the geosciences. Alix teaches a large Gen Ed class called Evolution and Extinctions, a senior and masters-level Planetary Geology class and a masters-level class in Sedimentary Petrology.  Alix has two young kids, 7 & 3 years old (the first at the end of grad school, the second shortly after starting at Temple), and is continually trying to keep up with them!  She is thrilled to have been given this funding to develop this workshop and is looking forward to June!

Jennifer Piatek

Jen Piatek earned her B.S. in Physics (minor in Astronomy) from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 1992, an M.S. in Geology from Arizona State University in 1997, and her PhD. in Geology and Planetary Science from the University of Pittsburgh in 2003.  She worked as a postdoc in the Earth and Planetary Sciences department at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville focusing on thermal infrared studies of Earth and Mars before moving to a faculty position in the Physics and Earth Science department at Central Connecticut State University in 2007.  Her current research is centered on the interpretation of thermal infrared data from Mars to determine surface physical properties.  CCSU is a primarily undergraduate institution that is focused on teaching, so she is working to balance research with a multiple course load, including classes in physical geology, planetary astronomy/geology, astrobiology, and remote sensing - and finding a way to have a life outside the university, too!

Speakers/ Mentors

Jennifer Anderson

Jenn Anderson grew up in eastern Wisconsin and received her B.S. in Geophysics, Astrophysics, and Physics from University of Minnesota, 1998; her Sc.M. in Geological Sciences from Brown University, 2001 and Ph.D. in Geological Sciences from Brown University, 2004.  Jenn taught as an adjunct astronomy professor for one semester at Rhode Island College and then did a brief post-doc at the Science Education Resource Center at Carleton College.  She started as an assistant professor of Geoscience at Winona State University in southeast Minnesota in 2005 and has been there seven years.  She was awarded tenure in 2009 and spent the 2011-2012 academic year on sabbatical, working on her research.  Jenn is a broadly trained planetary geologist who specializes in experimental impact cratering.  She did her Ph.D. work with Peter Schultz at Brown University on “Experimental studies of ejecta dynamics during vertical and oblique impacts.”  She has always been interested in teaching at an undergraduate university since her goal upon leaving high school was to “help science teachers learn to teach science better.”  She is passionate about public outreach and has been involved in various science education efforts throughout her university, graduate, and professional careers.   WSU is focused on teaching, so she has a high teaching load (2-3 classes with labs per semester); teaching astronomy, planetary geology, geophysics, historical geology, and Earth & space systems in the Geoscience department. She also teaches the science content course sequence for elementary education majors.  She serves as the Earth Science Teaching program advisor and in a number of other Earth Science education roles on campus.  She is active in her department and spent 8 months as an interim chair.  She continues her NASA research into impact ejecta kinematics by collaborating with Dr. Mark Cintala at NASA Johnson Space Center’s Experimental Impact Laboratory and has expanded her research into field geology at local impact crater-related deposits, working  with undergraduates.  She  still struggles to find a balance between research, teaching, and life.  She looks forward to sharing her experiences with all of you.

Tracy K.P. Gregg

Tracy K.P. Gregg is an Associate Professor in the Geology Department at the University at Buffalo, where she has been since 1998. She teaches graduate and introductory courses and has supervised almost 3 dozen graduate students. Prior to arriving at UB, she worked as an Assistant Research Scientist in the Geology and Geophysics Department at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. She has co-edited 3 books about volcanology, and maintains multiple active research grants (most are from NASA, with a few from NSF). She’s been married to the same man (also a professor) for 20 years, and has 2 children: Gregg’s son was 6 months old when she began her professorial career, and her daughter was born while Gregg was still an Assistant Professor. She was the first woman faculty in Buffalo’s Geology Department, and provided a much-needed education about work/family balance to her understanding colleagues.

Vicki L. Hansen

Vicki Hansen earned her degrees in Geology: B.A. from Carleton College (1980), M.S. from University of Montana (1983) and Ph.D. from UCLA (1987). She joined the faculty at Southern Methodist University (SMU) in 1987 advancing to Associate (1993) and Full Professor (1997); she served as Chair of the new-formed Environmental Science Program (1998-2000). At SMU Hansen received the Sigma Xi Outstanding Research Award and the Phi Beta Kappa Perrine Prize. In 2002 Hansen joined the faculty at UMD as McKnight Presidential Professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences; she served as the Geoscience Director of Graduate Studies from 2003-07; received the Chancellor's Award for Distinguished Research (2007-08); and was a CIC Academic Leadership Program Fellow (2009-10). Hansen has served on editorial boards for Geology, Geological Society of America Bulletin and the Journal of Geological Research, and on committees/review/advisory panels for AGU, GSA, LPI, NSF, NASA, and the Smithsonian. She is a Geological Society of America Fellow, and member of AGU, Phi Beta Kappa, and Sigma Xi. Hansen’s research and teaching interests include understanding how rocky/icy planets work, evolve, and lose heat–in short–how they tick. She is particularly fascinated with the bending and breaking of planet surfaces, and the resulting record of operative planetary processes, especially on Earth and Venus. Fundamentally it all comes down to rheology—an excuse to play with her food, and encourage students to do the same. Hansen has authored over 60 refereed papers or book chapters on the tectonic evolution of Antarctica, Early Earth, North American Cordillera, and Venus, 11 geological maps of Earth and Venus and over 130 conference presentations, many with students. Her research through the years has been funded by ACS, NASA, NSF, USGS, the University of Minnesota and the McKnight Foundation. Hansen is PI of an NSF ADVANCE IT-Catalyst grant. In addition to basic research, Hansen is concerned about graduate education, and the success of women and minorities in the STEM fields.