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Rice University's Cin-Ty Lee wins Guggenheim Fellowship

Earth scientist will study how and when continents emerged from oceans

Rice University

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Credit: Photo by Jeff Fitlow/Rice University

HOUSTON -- (April 7, 2017) -- Rice University Earth scientist Cin-Ty Lee has won a prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship to investigate how and when continents emerged from the oceans and the effect of their emergence on the evolution of whole-Earth cycling of life-giving nutrients.

Lee is one of 173 scholars, artists and scientists -- and the only Earth scientist -- chosen as 2017 Guggenheim Fellows. The fellows represent 49 disciplines and 64 academic institutions and were chosen from nearly 3,000 applicants. Funded by the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, the fellowships are awarded on the basis of achievements and exceptional promise to allow scholars to pursue their work with creative freedom.

Lee joined Rice in 2002 and is a professor and chair of the Department of Earth Science. He studies the compositions of rocks to reconstruct how Earth's interior, surface, atmosphere and life have evolved over time. Specifically, his interests lie in understanding how mountains and continents form, how Earth's deep interior has differentiated and how deep-Earth processes modulate long-term climate and Earth's habitability.

In addition to researching the emergence and impact of continents, Lee will use the Guggenheim funding to explore crystal growth and kinetics in magmatic and hydrothermal conditions.

Lee has a B.A. from the University of California, Berkeley and a Ph.D. from Harvard University. He has published more than 100 papers on a wide range of topics, including whole-Earth carbon cycling, the rise of atmospheric oxygen, the formation of ore deposits, coupling between magmatism and erosion, the temperature of Earth's mantle and the origin of granites. He is a fellow of the Mineralogical Society of America and the Geological Society of America and has been awarded the Kuno Medal from the American Geophysical Union, the Clarke Medal from the Geochemical Society, the Donath Medal from the Geological Society of America and a Packard Fellowship.

Lee is also a world-renowned field ornithologist who spends much of his spare time painting birds and traveling the world in search of birds. He has published numerous articles on field identification of such difficult complexes as Arctic and Pacific loons, female orioles, American and Siberian pipits and dowitchers. He is currently working on a new guide to the identification of Empidonax flycatchers. He donates his paintings, teaches courses and leads field trips to benefit conservation-oriented nonprofit organizations and local schools.

Guggenheim Fellowships have been awarded annually since 1925. Each fellow is awarded a grant to help provide them with blocks of time in which they can work with as much creative freedom as possible. Grants have no special conditions attached and fellows may spend their grant funds in any manner they deem necessary to do their work.

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