McKay Award for PhD Student Jennika Greer

Tue, 11/14/2017 - 12:24 -- pheck

Resident Ph.D. Student Jennika Greer (Univ. of Chicago/Geophysical Sciences) has been selected to receive the McKay Award,* which honors the best student oral presentation at the Meteoritical Society Annual Meeting. This is particularly impressive, since this was her first oral presentation at a major scientific meeting. Jennika’s project focused on the analysis of a lunar sample to study the effects of space weathering, which affects airless bodies such as the Moon and asteroids. Space weathering is caused by micrometeorite impacts, solar wind, and irradiation from the Sun, and alters the minerals on the surface of the bodies. Jennika used atom probe tomography to sample the outer-most tens of nanometers of an Apollo 17 soil sample, where space weathering effects are most pronounced. Atom probe tomography provides unique compositional information in 3D at near-atomic resolution, which essentially no other technique can achieve. Jennika’s method uses only a tiny amount of material and her work demonstrates for the first time its usefulness for the study of precious, rare samples returned to Earth by space missions. It will likely be applied to the study of other samples collected on such missions. Here is a link to the abstract of the presentation. Jennika is advised by Robert A. Pritzker Associate Curator Philipp Heck. Besides the Moon she also works on presolar stardust grains and is heavily involved with outreach and education.
*The McKay award honors the memory of Gordon A. McKay (1945–2008), a NASA planetary scientist specializing in lunar and Martian geochemistry. It was endowed in 2008 thanks to the generous donations of the McKay family and many society members. The award is given each year to the student who gives the best oral presentation at the annual meeting of the society.

Top: Jennika holding a lunar meteorite (John Weinstein; GN92446_025Ad). Bottom: Apollo 17 astronaut Harrison Schmitt who collected our sample (NASA).