Avalanche tumbling down a mountain side


Inspiring speakers share Earth-changing ideas.

You are invited!

Join us for EARTHx, a series of talks by best-in-class speakers making a difference in their fields. No matter your age or level of expertise, these talks are for everyone. Whether you want to participate in person or online, we invite you to get inspired by our great lineup.

Philanthropic Supporters behind the Series:

This year's EARTHx series is possible due to a generous philanthropic contribution from the Gallagher family. Legendary oilman and geologist Jack Gallagher was a dedicated supporter of UCalgary, and his sons Thomas, Frederick and James have continued this tradition of generosity. The Gallagher family has also established the Gallagher Library, the Gallagher Fellowship in Geoscience, and many other university initiatives for more than 40 years. We thank the family for their continued support and contributions to UCalgary.

Thank you for joining us for our 2023-24 events

If you would like to receive information about the EARTHx Series, please email scialumni@ucalgary.ca and ask to be included on the Faculty of Science events and communications list.

Upcoming 2024-25 events

Stay tuned for our EARTHx series presentations which will be taking place in fall 2024 and winter 2025.

James Webb Telescope
Nathalie Nguyen-Quoc Ouellette

Seeing Beyond the Visible with the Webb Telescope

Presenter: Nathalie Nguyen-Quoc Ouellette, Ph.D. - Outreach Scientist, James Webb Space Telescope

Date:  March 21, 2024

Joining us in person:
Networking Reception:  6:15 p.m. (MT)
EARTHx Presentation: 7:00 - 8:15 p.m. (MT)
Location:  MacEwan Hall Ballroom (3rd Floor MacEwan Students Centre)

Joining us online (via Livestream)
EARTHx Presentation: 7:00 - 8:15 p.m. (MT)

Event's interactive booths:

  • Can you pick the real meteorites from a lineup of fakes? Sharpen your meteorite-hunting skills with a game of Meteorite/Meteorwrong!
  • Earth@UCalgary researchers are participating in a mission to collect space rocks from Asteroid Bennu. How’s it going? Ask one of our experts!
  • The Millarville Meteorite: Get up close and personal with one of Alberta’s famous meteorites.

The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) has been dazzling the entire world with its amazing images and discoveries since the start of its scientific mission in 2022. An international collaboration between NASA, the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency, Webb is the largest telescope ever sent to space. In this talk, you will discover how the Webb Telescope uses the power of infrared light to probe the atmospheres of exoplanets, study the dusty birth and death of stars, and detect the most distant galaxies ever observed. You will see the Universe as never before, through Webb’s infrared eye, and learn how astronomers and artists transform this invisible light into the colourful images shown to the public.

Nathalie Nguyen-Quoc Ouellette is an astrophysicist, science communicator and lifetime lover of all things space! She obtained her Ph.D. in Physics & Astronomy at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario in 2016. Her research focuses on galaxy formation and evolution, particularly those found in clusters. Nathalie is currently the Deputy Director of the Trottier Institute for Research on Exoplanets (iREx) and the Mont-Mégantic Observatory (OMM) at the University of Montréal and is also the Outreach Scientist for the James Webb Space Telescope in Canada collaborating with the Canadian Space Agency. She is a frequent contributor and analyst in Canadian media on everything related to space. She also organises and participates in science outreach events from local to international scales to encourage the interest and participation of youth and the general public in space science and to increase scientific literacy in Canada.

Airplane on ice in Antarctica
Dr. Eric Steig

Antarctica is melting, but why now?

Presenter: Eric Steig, Professor and Chair of the Department of Earth and Spaces Sciences, and Adjunct Professor in Atmospheric Sciences, at the University of Washington.

Date:  Thursday, January 18, 2024

Joining us in person:
Networking Reception:  6:15 p.m. (MT)
EARTHx Presentation: 7:00 - 8:15 p.m. (MT)
Location:  MacEwan Hall Ballroom (3rd Floor MacEwan Students Centre)

Joining us online (via Livestream)
EARTHx Presentation: 7:00 - 8:15 p.m. (MT)

It is widely known that the Antarctic ice sheet is melting and contributing to sea level rise.  Far less understood is why this is happening now.  This is not a simple case of a warmer climate: air temperatures remain well below freezing all year in all but the most northerly parts of Antarctica. Antarctica is primarily melting from below, where relatively warm ocean water is the underside of ice shelves (the floating part of a glacier when it reaches the sea).  Yet, the water itself is not much warmer than it has always been -- the ocean surrounding Antarctica has probably warmed only about a tenth of a degree in the last century.  So, what is going on?  The available evidence suggests that a complex interplay between winds, sea ice, ocean currents, and the geometry of the melting ice itself, has gradually increased the efficiency with which warm water reaches and melts the ice shelves.  Ice core records have played a key role in our understanding of these processes, because they stretch back farther in time, beyond the instrumental record of Antarctic climate that began only in the late 1950s.  The beginning of accelerated melting that we observe today probably began earlier, in the 1940s.  Remarkably, the distant tropical Pacific Ocean has played a key role.


Eric Steig is Professor and Chair of the Department of Earth and Spaces Sciences, and Adjunct Professor in Atmospheric Sciences, at the University of Washington.  He earned his Bachelors in earth sciences in 1988 from Hampshire College, and his PHD from the University of Washington in 1996. He was research scientist at the University of Colorado and then Assistant Professor at the University of Pennsylvania for three years, before returning to the University of Washington in 2001. His focuses on climate and ice sheets, using a combination of isotope geochemistry and climate modeling. His primary observational tool is the ice itself – ice samples obtained by drilling cores into the ice sheet, which are brought back to the lab and analyzed. His primary analytical tools are isotope-ratio mass spectrometry and laser spectroscopy, often using instruments and methods he and his laboratory staff and students have pioneered. Eric was honored as a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2019, in recognition of his polar climate and glaciology research and for being an early innovator in public communication about climate science. In 2023, he was elected Fellow of the American Geophysical Union for “numerous fundamental contributions in ice core, paleoclimate, and climate dynamics research.”

Octopus swimming in the water
Dr. Rachel Lauer

Discovering the Deep: Ocean Exploration and an Unexpected Find

Presenter: Rachel Lauer, Associate Professor, Department of Earth, Energy, and Environment, University of Calgary

Date:  Thursday, November 23, 2023

Joining us in person:
Networking Reception:  6:15 p.m. (MT)
EARTHx Presentation: 7:00 - 8:15 p.m. (MT)
Location:  MacHall Ballroom (3rd floor MacEwan Student Centre)

Joining us online (via Livestream)
EARTHx Presentation: 7:00 - 8:15 p.m. (MT)

Over a decade ago, our research team ventured into the deep Pacific Ocean near Costa Rica. At depths of 3000 meters, our mission was to sample fluids emerging from the ocean crust. Our primary ambition? To uncover the secrets of the microbial communities inhabiting the ocean crust, pinpointing the chemical reactions that allow them to flourish, and extrapolating these findings to potential life in other ocean worlds like Enceladus and Europa.

Earlier research in this region identified 11 unique outcrops emerging from the impermeable sediments, facilitating water interchange between the ocean and its crust. Intriguingly, a staggering 80% of the crustal heat in this region appeared to be unaccounted for. The dominant theory proposed that vigorous hydrothermal circulation was responsible for this vast heat discrepancy. Eager to corroborate this, our quest led us to the anticipated fluid flows at the enigmatic Dorado outcrop.

When our robotic emissary reached Dorado, it unveiled a breathtaking spectacle: a thriving oasis teeming with biodiversity. Most astonishingly, over a hundred brooding octopus nestled in crevices, laying their precious egg sacs in the warm, shimmering water cascading from this underwater pinnacle. In this unexpected turn of events, we had stumbled upon the world's first known deep-sea octopus nursery, a revelation even we were unprepared for and initially unequipped to fully comprehend.

A decade later, armed with renewed funding, a revamped team, and a state-of-the-art vessel, we revisited the mesmerizing site of our inaugural discovery to determine if they were still there, and further explore this region to identify additional sites of biodiversity worthy of protection.

Join us on this journey as we embark on a decades long interdisciplinary voyage of discovery that led to finding a second octopus nursery, a skate nursery, and many more exotic creatures that illustrate the adaptability and resilience of deep-sea life. Hopefully, you will leave with a better appreciation of these fragile environments, and acknowledge our responsibility to protect them…

Rachel's journey in earth science began with a profound curiosity about the inner workings of our planet. Her career has carved a unique niche, delving into the fascinating intersection of the seafloor and Earth's mysteries—an area we know less about than the surface of Mars.

Her research is a testament to her curiosity, particularly focusing on the dynamic relationship between life and the ocean/earth interface. Rachel's work primarily centers on terrestrial and submarine hydrogeology, where she diligently unravels the planet's mysteries beneath the ocean's depths. Her ground-breaking research in submarine hydrogeology, specifically the movement of fluids beneath the oceanic crust, has led her to explore the ocean's depths aboard Alvin, a deep-water submersible, reaching depths of 4.5 kilometers. This unique perspective has granted her profound insights into the intricate connections between geoscience and biology in the Deep Ocean. Most recently, she played a pivotal role in an international collaboration, working alongside biologists, policy researchers, artists, and others, focused on understanding fluid exchange and it’s support of life at depths of 3.5 kilometers.

Beyond her research, Rachel is an inspiring educator. She doesn't simply teach; she mentors and guides, passionately committed to shaping the future of her students. Her unwavering dedication to preparing undergraduates and graduates for global challenges is evident in her creation of innovative courses, her mentorship beyond the classroom, and her active involvement in curriculum development. Her mission is to ensure that students not only secure jobs after graduation but also embark on fulfilling careers that continue to evolve. She actively participates in various department, faculty, and university committees, recognizing that collaboration and shared responsibility are essential for a thriving academic community.

Rachel is a scientist who relentlessly pursues knowledge, endeavours to make the world safer, and is devoted to inspiring and supporting the next generation of scientists.

Watch the Schmidt Ocean Institute's Next Expedition!

The team returns to continue their research, collect experiments they placed earlier in the year, and examine new regions never-before-seen by humans. The science team’s ultimate goal is to better understand the hydrogeology, microbiology, ecology, and geochemistry that may facilitate octopus nurseries while characterizing life-supporting services provided by the ecosystems on these seamounts.

View Livestream of next expedition (operational December 1 - 10, 2023)

Visit the Schmidt Ocean Institute

“The series is excellent and provides a good variety of speakers and subjects to keep it very interesting and give a good overview of what is happening in the scientific world. It also helps me keep up to date with what is going on in the world. It is one of the very few good things happening in the world these days. Thank you.”

Attendee from January 2020 lecture by Dr. Barbara Sherwood Lollar