Chris Rackauckas awarded fellowships

Last Spring, MCRN member Chris Rackauckas was awarded an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship *and* a Ford Fellowship. These honors, along with a previously awarded NIH Training Grant, were achieved in large part due to Chris’ research in mathematical climatology with Professor Jim Walsh, an MCRN member at Oberlin College, for their work on Energy Balance Models (EBM) as a way to elucidate the validity of the Jormungand Hypothesis.

The Jormungand Hypothesis is the idea that most of the Earth was covered by large glaciers during the Neoproterozoic Era. It runs contrary to the Snowball Earth Hypothesis by claiming the existence of a small ring of open water near the equator as opposed to a full glacial coverage. MCRN node-leader Dorian Abbot had previously shown the possibility of a Jormungand state arising from the interaction between glacial albedo and average precipitation/evaporation via the Hadley Cells using Global Circulation Models (GCM) and Sellers-type continuous albedo approximations (Abbot, D.S., A. Voigt, and D. Koll, 2011, The Jormungand Global Climate State and Implications for Neoproterozoic Glaciations, Journal of Geophysical Research, 116, D18103, doi:10.1029/2011JD015927). Chris’ work with Jim focused on low-order climate models and utilized dynamical systems techniques in order to show the stability of a Jormungand climate state in the case with a discontinuous albedo function. Preliminary results were presented at the 2012 Joint Mathematics Meetings and were the basis for his honor’s thesis. The results of this work have recently been submitted for publication.

Chris continues to study the mathematics of complex systems at the University of California, Irvine, where he is now a second-year doctoral student in the Department of Mathematics with associations to the Center for Complex Biological Systems. With the help of his advisor Professor Qing Nie, he hopes to link the mathematics of complex systems to experimental results in the context of mathematical/theoretical developmental biology.



Congratulations, Chris! We look forward to hearing more from you and fellow MCRN researchers!


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