Scientists of Colour in Earth & Planetary Sciences

The field of Earth science is extremely diverse in terms of research scope– but what about the diversity of the scientists who conduct this research? While Earth Science as a discipline has notoriously struggled to achieve broad racial diversity at the senior faculty level, we sat down with four inspiring young scientists who are helping to diversify the makeup of the Earth science community.

Manar Al Asad – Planetary Scientist | Manar is a research scientist in the Department of Earth, Ocean & Atmospheric Sciences at the University of British Columbia. She is interested in understanding the evolution of different parts of the solar system and its constituents. Her research career started with studying the interactions between Mercury’s magnetic field and the solar wind, and continued through her involvement as a scientific collaborator and Deputy Instrument Scientist on the OSIRIS-REx mission, the first NASA mission to attempt to bring a pristine sample back to Earth from an asteroid. Manar will begin her Ph.D. at the University of Berkley in January 2020 where she will expand her knowledge of planetary evolution through the study of the motion of material throughout Earth. Her main focus will be the interactions between the core and mantle throughout Earth’s history.

Johan Gilchrist – Volcanologist | Johan (Yoshi) Gilchrist was born and raised in New Jersey, USA, and moved to Vancouver, BC to study Geophysics at UBC in 2008. Since then, he has carved a niche for himself in the field of volcanology by studying the rise and fall of volcanic rocks, pumice, ash and gas in the atmosphere and oceans during explosive eruptions by using laboratory, field and computer based methods. Outside of academia, Yoshi loves to play basketball, however, he stays close to the volcanic mountains he studies by mountain biking, rock climbing, mountaineering and backcountry snowboarding in the Pacific Northwest of North America.

Dr. Craig Poku – Atmospheric Scientist | Dr. Poku is an atmospheric and climate scientist based at the University of Leeds. He completed a degree in Mathematics at King’s College London, where he graduated with a 1st Class Honours in 2014. Following this, he went onto a completing a PhD in Atmospheric Sciences in 2019, where he focused on improving our understanding on fog microphysics over the UK. His current work focuses on improving fog forecasting over India, in addition to understanding how we can adapt climate change communications for different parts of society.

Xueya Lu – Geochemist | Xueya Lu is from China, Xinjiang province. She moved to Canada in 2013 and began her Master’s studies at the University of British Columbia in 2017. Xueya’s thesis project focuses on characterizing the reactivity of ultramafic mine tailings for low-cost carbon capture utilization and storage. To do this, Xueya conducts laboratory-scale kinetic dissolution experiments and geochemical numerical models to quantify the number of magnesium cations that can be easily leached from ultramafic tailings under atmospheric conditions. Upon finishing her thesis, Xueya aims to establish an applicable testing protocol to quickly and easily assess tailings’ reactivity for carbon mineralization. Xueya sees herself progressing in the field of carbon capture, helping support the fight for climate change and supporting innovative research as a scientist and an adventurer.