I am an explorer of space, time and the human experience. I explore in very specific ways. First, I am founding Chair and Professor of Geology, the Department of Geology, School of Earth and Environment, Rowan University. I joined the faculty at Rowan University in September 2016 after having been a full professor at the City University of New York. I have the great pleasure of working with Professor Kenneth Lacovara to create the new Department of Geology within the new School of Earth and Environment. We are building B.A. and B.S. degrees and it is our vision to have an applied M.S. and a Ph.D. program.
Rocks are books. The pages of these books are minerals. It is the job of a geologist to read the rock books and tell their story. For my research, I focus on reading the story that chondritic meteorites tell. Through the study of chondrite, which are the oldest rocks in our collections (4.567 billion years old), science can constrain the origin and evolution of the very first planetary materials right up to the formation of the Earth-like planets. Chondrites are likened to cosmic sedimentary rocks and contain components formed in different regions of the disk from which the planets formed, at different time in the lifetime of the disk, and even contain material not formed within the Solar System but from other stars that have long since died.
Second, I explore space, time and the human experience by being Mission Sample Scientist (MSS) and Co-I on NASA’s New Frontiers 3 asteroid sample return mission, OSIRIS-REx and as Co-I on JAXA’s asteroid sample return mission, Hayabusa2. As MSS I am in charge of all science related to contamination knowledge, surface geology of asteroid Bennu, the target asteroid of OSIRIS-REx, and for the analysis of the returned sample. The analysis of the returned sample will not occur until 2023, and I will lead the international, coordinated effort to understand the history of asteroid Bennu, from the birth of its components to the dynamical evolution of the asteroid to what it is today.
In addition to my work, I am passionate about cooking (blending American, French, Japanese and Korean cuisines) and dining with friends and family, sharing good wine and great conversation. I love traveling and exploring new cultural systems. I love classical music and am a patron member of WQXR, which is on within my home 24 hrs a day 7 days a week. I am an enormous fan of the Metropolitan Opera and when I lived in NYC I had season tickets. I workout almost every day and study pilates here in southern New Jersey. I love my ‘second home’ Hawai’i and go surfing almost every day while visiting. It is important to keep an active life of body and mind. Recently, I have been learning the art of Ikebana, which has been really rewarding. I love French, Japanese and Korean cultures and am currently learning the Japanese language.
I am a Buddhist who practices in the Tibetan tradition. I have mainly studied with Ani Trime Lhamo in Princeton New Jersey, although the world lost her at 89 years of age in 2016. I have also studied with Mindrolling Khandro Rinpoche and Tulku Dakpa Rinopche and received many empowerments and teachings from numerous other lamas including His Holiness the Dali Lama. There can be nothing more important to opening one to kindness then to map one’s own mind through the various tools of meditation.
I am also fortunate enough to be a member of the Tetzkatlipoka Tradition of the Mexico Tenoxtitlan nation (Aztec) and have been studying with my teacher and carrier of the medicine system, Tzenwaxolokuauhtli, for many years. The traditional system is called Nawi Ollin Teotl. The continuing tradition of Tetzkatlipoka has amazing similarities to Tibetan Buddhism and has been around for approximately 5000 years.
I was raised Roman Catholic and still enjoy going to mass when I can. It has a different meaning for me now, but I do still love the rituals and messages of Christianity. I was also blessed to be introduced to the Jewish faith through my mother’s second husband, and very much enjoy listening to what I find to be very practical messages from a Rabbi.
Thus, I am a scientist with a grounding in some of the world’s most popular faiths and a not so well known tradition. For me, my life is a great blessing.