EAPS professors appointed named chairs

Effective July 1st, Leigh “Wiki” Royden and Kristin Bergmann will be the Cecil and Ida Green chair and the Weedon Career Development chair, respectively.

Professor of Geology and Geophysics Leigh “Wiki” Royden, who joined the MIT faculty in 1988, has made significant contributions to our understanding of regional tectonophysical processes of the crust and lithosphere. Her research has provided the geosciences with a fundamental understanding of and analysis methodology for the geodynamics of subduction, mountain range evolution and continental deformation.

Outside teaching, Royden has worked to make the university experience a better one, by directing the MIT Experimental Study Group (ESG) and EAPS Diversity Council. ESG is a program for 55 first-year students, who are immersed in the undergraduate core curriculum with engaging activities and interactive instruction. The experience fosters education and community through social activities. She also chaired the Diversity Council from its inception through winter 2020. An achievement of council has been to examine and expand diversity, equity and inclusion awareness and action during faculty searches.

Royden accepts one of six named professorships supporting education and the sciences at MIT, generously endowed by the philanthropy of the late Cecil and Ida Green, who have supported the department in numerous ways. Royden joins EAPS faculty members Kerry Emanuel, Raffaele Ferrari, and Brad Hager in the position. John Marshall’s term ended on 6/30/2020.

Assistant Professor Kristin Bergmann is a geobiologist and Packard Fellow, looking into and reconstructing Earth’s early history. She focuses on the development and evolution of complex life, and the environmental interactions and conditions that made it possible. Bergmann, who joined the MIT faculty in 2015, employs theory, experimental lab work and field studies to examine the chemical make-up and spatiotemporal context of rocks from ancient oceans, where multicellular life likely emerged. Recent work from her group has constrained the timing of the Shuram excursion, a marked change in Earth’s carbon geochemistry.

The Weedon Career Development chair will afford Bergmann additional resources to pursue her teaching and research for a three-year term.

When she isn’t teaching, Bergmann has been active in Women in Course XII (WiXII) and Diversity Council, advocating for diversity, equity and inclusion. She’s also a member of the department’s Task Force 2023 Working Group 3 on Departmental Organization and Cohesion, working to bring members of the department closer, increase connectivity, and facilitate interdisciplinary work. An effort of hers in this vein is the EAPS Matrix Lunches, organized by members of WiXII, EAPS REFs, the Diversity Council, and ESAC, and subsidized by the Graduate Student Life Grant from the Office of Graduate Education (OGE). Here, through informal lunches or coffee, randomly matched department members can become better socially and professionally acquainted, disrupting siloing caused by the physical and hierarchical structure of the department. Bergmann was recently named one of the 2020-21 Committed to Caring Honorees by graduate students and the MIT Office of Graduate Education, recognizing her mentorship and promotion of students’ well-being.

Story Image: Leigh “Wiki” Royden (left) and Kristin Bergmann