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Paleoclimatologist Wins Packard Fellowship

October 17, 2013

Vasilii Petrenko, assistant professor of earth and environmental sciences, is one of 16 researchers being awarded a prestigious David and Lucile Packard Foundation Fellowship for Science and Engineering.

Each Fellow will receive a grant totaling $875,000 over five years to spend on a research project of his or her choice.

scientist holding ice

Vasilii Petrenko, assistant professor of earth and environmental sciences, holds a 50,000-year-old ice sample from Taylor glacier in Antarctica.

In her letter of nomination, Carmala Garzione, chair of the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, said Petrenko “is blazing new trails in ice core research” and “resolving questions about how the Earth’s natural system will respond to the (climate) changes that we are initiating.”

The 2013 Fellows were selected by the Packard Fellowship Advisory Panel, a group of 12 nationally-recognized scientists and engineers from a field of 100 researchers nominated by the presidents of 50 universities that participate in the Packard Fellowship program.

The Packard Fellowship program was established in 1988 to allow the nation’s most promising scientists to pursue science and engineering research early in their careers with few funding restrictions and limited reporting requirements. The program arose out of David Packard’s commitment to strengthen university-based science and engineering programs in recognition that the success of the Hewlett-Packard Company, which he co-founded, derived in large measure from research and development work done in university laboratories.

By supporting highly innovative professors early in their careers, the Foundation hopes to support scientific leaders, helping to further their promising work in science and engineering and encourage their efforts to train the next generation of scientists.

“I’m very excited to be recognized by the Packard Foundation,” said Petrenko. “It’s an important validation of my research ideas.”

Petrenko will use his Packard grant to measure past carbon-14 content of carbon monoxide in ancient air trapped in glacial ice of Greenland and Antarctica in an effort to better understand the extent to which human activity has altered the chemical state of the atmosphere.

Petrenko earned his Ph.D. in earth sciences at the University of California, San Diego. He came to the University of Rochester in July 2011 after completing his postdoctoral work at the University of Colorado.

Packard Fellows must be university faculty members who are eligible to serve as principal investigators engaged in research in the natural and physical sciences or engineering, and must be within the first three years of their faculty careers. Disciplines that are considered include physics, chemistry, mathematics, biology, astronomy, computer science, earth science, ocean science, and all branches of engineering.

View an audio slideshow¬†of Vasilii Petrenko’s ice collection expeditions.

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