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Four researchers receive 2019 AGU Outstanding Student Paper Awards

Tyler Kukla, Chayawan Jaikla, Indraneel Kasmalkar, and Anna Broome have been honored with 2019 OSPAs from the American Geophysical Union.

BY Danielle Torrent Tucker
ClockMarch 11, 2020

Four Stanford Earth researchers have been selected to receive 2019 Outstanding Student Paper Awards (OSPAs) from the American Geophysical Union (AGU): PhD candidates Tyler Kukla, Chayawan (Earth) Jaikla, Indraneel (Neel) Kasmalkar, and Anna Broome.

The prestigious award is given to promote, recognize and reward undergraduate, Master’s and PhD students for quality research in the geophysical sciences. Typically, only the top 3 to 5 percent of student participants who present their research at the annual AGU Fall meeting are awarded an OSPA.

“Every year, our students push the boundaries of research across the board,” said Stephan Graham, the Chester Naramore Dean of the School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences (Stanford Earth). “It’s great to see the next generation skillfully communicating these innovative ideas.”

The students presented their research at the 2019 fall meeting in December, which was held in San Francisco. Broome, who proposed a new multi-frequency radar sounding approach for better understanding basal ice sheet characteristics, said it was “quite fulfilling” to engage conference attendees who were excited about her research.

“Although we are just in the initial stages of the project, the simulation results I presented at AGU were very encouraging and are helping us shape the radar system design going forward,” Broome said.

Kukla also expressed appreciation for the chance to present at the professional conference, which is the largest gathering of Earth and space scientists in the world.

“I am most excited by the opportunity to receive feedback from more senior scientists that took valuable time out of their conference to support students like me,” Kukla said. “Their insights and criticisms are just as valuable – if not more so – than the award, and I’m grateful AGU provides opportunities for us students to receive constructive, external feedback.”

Read below to learn more about the students’ award-winning research.

Tyler Kukla

Tyler Kukla

Geological sciences 
Terrestrial Paleoclimate research group with Page Chamberlain


In the last 20,000 years, spatial patterns of precipitation and vegetation in the Amazon Basin have shifted substantially – but how much? Kukla’s work shows precipitation in the Amazon migrates following a spatial “hysteresis”-like pattern where one region gets wetter at the expense of drying elsewhere. Further, these wet-dry shifts can cause average annual precipitation to vary by more than one meter per year—more than double the precipitation that San Francisco gets each year.


Now that we have an idea of “how much” rainfall has changed in the Amazon’s past we can begin to tackle new questions like how resilient the Amazon Rainforest is to this level of drying.

Chayawan (Earth) Jaikla

Chayawan (Earth) Jaikla

Geological sciences 
Stanford Project on Deepwater Depositional Systems research group with Don Lowe


In this study, we aim to understand associations of the Upper Cretaceous Pigeon Point Formation, which outcrops along the Pacific Coast across the San Gregorio-Hosgri Fault.


Previous studies suggest that the Pigeon Point Formation is linked to the Upper Cretaceous Atascadero Formation. We used comprehensive provenance analyses of sandstone petrography, detrital zircon geochronology, and major and trace element mudstone geochemistry from both formations to conclude that the Pigeon Point Formation has different origin characteristics than the Atascadero Formation. We inspected that the Pigeon Point Formation might be correlated to other formations further south, implying a larger slip of the San Gregorio-Hosgri Fault than the current estimate. 

Indraneel (Neel) Kasmalkar

Indraneel (Neel) Kasmalkar

Institute for Computational & Mathematical Engineering (ICME)
SImulations of Geophysical Multi-phAse flows research group with Jenny Suckale (geophysics)


The San Francisco Bay Area is known for its high levels of traffic congestion. Our work aims to understand how extreme flooding events and sea level rise over the next few decades will further aggravate traffic congestion in this area. When segments of major traffic corridors such as US-101 are flooded, our traffic simulations project that cars will shift onto other roads during such events and propagate congestion throughout the region.


With this research, we hope to highlight that sea level rise is not a coastal problem, but a regional one. Cities both close to the Bay and farther inland are at risk of flood-based traffic disruption. The importance of road connectivity has implications for how regional governments can develop resilient transportation networks.

Anna Broome

Anna Broome

Electrical engineering
Radio Glaciology research group with Dustin Schroeder (geophysics)


Radar echoes returned from the bottom of an ice sheet include information directly related to ice sheet basal conditions, such as whether the bed material is frozen or melted, and smooth or rough. With current radar systems, it is nearly impossible to disentangle the effects of the bed's thermal state from those of the bed’s roughness on each radar echo.


The research I presented at AGU shows how we can address this challenge by using a multi-frequency radar sounding approach that can separate information in the radar echo about the bed’s thermal state and the bed’s roughness. This information is important for ice sheet modelers, who are trying to understand how our world’s ice sheets flow and evolve, and what implications they will have on global sea levels.

Media Contacts

Danielle T. Tucker

School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences, 650-497-9541

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