Geologist Jane Willenbring will present the spring 2021 SAGF Lecture

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Geologist Jane Willenbring, featured scientist in Tribeca Film Festival 2020 selection "Picture a Scientist," will present the spring 2021 Science Achievement Graduate Fellows Lecture online via Zoom at 2:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 10. This free public lecture is titled “Dynamic Interaction of Life and Landscape” and is sponsored by the Department of Chemistry and the Penn State Eberly College of Science.

Join the lecture via this Zoom link.

Jane Willenbring Credit: ProvidedAll Rights Reserved.

Lecture abstract

Natural landscapes are often viewed as the scenic backdrop on which life grows; when the landscape changes, biota responds passively to this change. A new view is emerging in which landscapes represent an ever-changing canvas shaped by dynamic interactions between life and landscape, through erosion, sediment transport through rivers, and alteration of rock to produce soil. Life probably strongly influences the evolution of topography at all scales, although evidence of the impact of life in mountains has been elusive.

The converse is also true — landscapes affect life through bottom-up controls. Landscape connectivity and substrate composition can act as a primary control on biodiversity and flora biomass and productivity. In this talk, I will discuss our approach coupling geochemical techniques, mostly involving cosmogenic nuclides, and remotely sensed data of topography and flora to show how vegetation can control topography at the scale of individual mountain stream catchments and how topography impacts life.

About the speaker

Willenbring is an associate professor of geological sciences at Stanford University. Willenbring’s research examines the evolution of the Earth’s surface, especially how landscapes are affected by tectonics, climate change, and life. She also organizes environmental justice campaigns around urban soil pollution and does outreach to help reduce sexual harassment and discrimination in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). She is the recipient of the Antarctica Service Medal from the U.S. Armed Forces, a National Science Foundation CAREER Award and Marguerite T. Williams award, and a Presidential Citation from the American Geophysical Union. Willenbring is a fellow of the Geological Society of America and a Gabilan Fellow at Stanford University. She is one of the scientists featured in the film "Picture a Scientist."

About the SAGF Lectures

The Science Achievement Graduate Fellows (SAGF) Lectures feature distinguished speakers in science and mathematics and are an outreach of the SAGF scholarship program in the Eberly College of Science at Penn State.

Established in 2018, the SAGF scholarships are awarded annually to outstanding graduate students seeking a doctoral degree in each of the college's seven departments and who are interested in the advancement of women in the sciences and related fields. The SAGF scholarships recognize women — an underrepresented group in the sciences and mathematics — who have a record of significant professional achievements in their field and who are role models for the students in the college. Each scholarship is named in honor of an outstanding woman scientist or mathematician who not only made groundbreaking discoveries but also blazed the trail for others who have followed in their footsteps. The program fellows host two distinguished lectures a year to honor the women scientists for whom the scholarships are named.

Last Updated February 02, 2021