Dylan Spaulding

Harvard University; Fellow 2006-2010

Although he was a doctoral student in Earth and Planetary Science at the University of California, Berkeley, Dylan Spaulding says his mentors and coworkers were mostly physicists.

“I benefited from their expertise in fundamental physics and I like to think I introduced some of them to problems in Earth science,” says Spaulding, now a research fellow in Earth and Planetary Sciences at Harvard University.

After graduation in 2010, Spaulding says he “wanted to identify a place in the scientific world that would allow me to ‘taste’ as many disciplines as possible. My current work satisfies that goal because it spans physics, astronomy, geology, chemistry, and even aspects of early biology.”

Spaulding’s experiments study the properties of geologic materials at extreme pressures and temperatures. He and his colleagues fire projectiles at speeds up to about 2.5 kilometers per second at mineral samples to study strong shocks’ effects on equations of state and chemistry. The research relates to natural impact processes and the formation and evolution of the Earth and moon.

Integrating data and researchers from disparate fields isn’t easy, Spaulding says, but it’s necessary to understand the planet. “In that sense, my goals haven’t changed, but have perhaps expanded to consider even more interdisciplinary research.”