PAOC Spotlights

The Rossby Award goes to Jessica Fitzsimmons and Chris Kempes

Sun June 15th, 2014
Genevieve Wanucha

Jessica Fitzsimmons, PhD '13, and Chris Kempes, PhD '13, have won the Carl-Gustaf Rossby Award for their outstanding PAOC PhD theses.

Jessica Fitzsimmons completed her PhD thesis The Marine Biogeochemistry of Dissolved and Colloidal Iron in the Joint Program in Chemical Oceanography in 2013. Her thesis, supervised by Edward Boyle, investigates the distribution of iron in different marine environments to deep understanding of the role of trace metals as limiting micronutrients in the ocean and the consequent effects on global climate. Fitzsimmons' research is featured in the Oceans at MIT story Geotraces: Building a Periodic Table for the Ocean.

In his PhD thesis The physical, environmental, and evolutionary determinants of biological architecture, Chris Kempes illuminates the connection between biological architecture as a mediator between physiology and the local environment. Advised by Michael Follows, the thesis uses simple theoretical principles to interpret a variety of biological phenomena, ranging from major evolutionary life-history transitions, to the biogeography of maximum tree height, to the community organization of bacterial biofilms. Kempes' work is featured in the MIT News stories Seeing a Forest from a Tree and Microbe Metabolism.

The Rossby Award, given for the best PhD thesis (es) of the preceding year, honors Carl Gustaf Rossby (1898-1957), the founder of the study of oceanography and meteorology at MIT. His work led to the Rossby number, Rossby waves, and the Rossby radius of deformation, all ideas fundamental to the understanding of planetary scale fluids.

Congratulations, Jessica and Chris, for the impressive work!