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NSF selects Tripati for early career development award

By Stuart Wolpert
Originally posted in UCLA Today

The NSF award is the organization’s most prestigious recognition given in support of junior faculty who exemplify the role of scholar-teachers.

Tripati conducts research to expand our knowledge of how ‘clumped’ isotopes (the occurrence of multiple rare isotope substitutions in molecules) in carbonates can be utilized as a tool to address pressing questions concerning climate change, geochemistry and geobiology, among other topics. She and her research team integrate geochemical data with field-based observations and models.

This award will help her determine regional patterns of warming and study the processes that are driving environmental change on land using a cutting-edge new chemical tool that she has pioneered. A member of UCLA’s Institute of the Environment and Sustainability, she uses the geologic record as a laboratory to study the physical and biological processes that influence climate, including studying climate dynamics.

Tripati also has been active in community environmental and geoscience outreach. The award will support her piloting new activities with the aim of educating and recruiting a diverse population to the sciences. Tripati will begin a new series of “Science and Art Saturdays” for families in Watts this autumn, and the award will support fellowships for high school and undergraduate students. She also will pilot a skills workshop for early-career scientists with a focus on women and minorities at a national meeting this December.

In her past research, she has shown that temperatures in central China are 10 to 14 degrees Fahrenheit hotter today than they were 20,000 years ago — an increase two to four times greater than many scientists previously thought. She has constructed an ancient climate record that holds clues about the long-term effects of Earth’s current levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide, a key contributor to global climate change. She has also discovered that you would have to go back at least 15 million years to find carbon dioxide levels on Earth as high as they are today.

For more about Tripati and her research, visit http://atripati.bol.ucla.edu.