DURHAM, N.C.— Geochemist Michael Kipp, a young scholar who’s already turning heads for his ambitious, transdisciplinary studies in “paleo-bio-geo-chemistry,” will join the faculty at Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment starting Jan. 1, 2024.
Kipp will join the faculty as assistant professor of geochemistry of earth, water and air systems.
He comes to the Nicholas School from the California Institute of Technology, where he has been a postdoctoral scholar in the Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences since 2019.
Like a genre-bending musician, Kipp uses chemical tracers and quantitative models to analyze the geologic record—rocks, sediments, fossils and such—and uncover the biogeochemical mechanisms that have fostered the co-evolution of life and habitable conditions on Earth.
“The goal of this work is to not only better understand the long history of life on Earth, but also to use that information to improve our forecasts of future environmental change and to guide the search for life on other planets,” he said.
His studies have shed light on a range of topics, from the oxygenation of Earth’s atmosphere and oceans to the evolution of its major nutrient cycles and the causes and consequences of recent climate anomalies.
“The depth and breadth of Michael’s work is astonishing for someone still in the early phase of his career,” said Toddi Steelman, Stanback Dean of the Nicholas School. “We’re thrilled he said yes.”
Emily Klein, chair of the Nicholas School’s Earth and Climate Sciences Division, noted that in addition to his research prowess, Kipp brings considerable teaching and mentoring experience and a longstanding commitment to educational outreach to the table, making him a true “academic triple play” and an outstanding addition to the school’s faculty.
Kipp earned his PhD in earth and space sciences and astrobiology from the University of Washington in 2019, and, as part of his doctoral studies, spent 2018 as a visiting researcher at the Australian National University’s Research School of Earth Sciences.
Prior to that, he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in biological sciences and a Bachelor of Arts degree in classics, with a concentration in Latin, from the University of Notre Dame in 2014.
He is the author or co-author of 20 peer-reviewed scientific papers, many of which have been published in top-tier scientific journals including the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Geophysical Research Letters, Geobiology, and Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta.
Among his many professional honors and recognitions, Kipp was awarded a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship in 2015; was awarded a Postdoctoral Fellowship in Geobiology from the Agouron Institute in 2019; and earned a Certificate in University Teaching from Caltech’s Project for Effective Teaching in 2020.