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Caltech Graduate Students Present Their Research And Discuss Their Career Paths in SCIENCE JOURNEYS

A new free lecture series aimed at middle and high school students.

Follow your curiosity with Science Journeys, a new on-demand video lecture series produced by Caltech's Public Programming department. In each Science Journey, a current graduate student discusses their personal path to Caltech, presents the key scientific concepts that underlie their research, and puts their work in the context of global issues.

Science Journeys can be watched live on the date and time they premiere and are archived for future viewing on the Caltech YouTube channel. For more information, please visit

The series was developed to inspire middle and high school students to pursue STEM subjects but is open to everyone with an interest in science. The first two Science Journeys of 2021, which premiere on January 15 and February 5, focus on how humans study the earth's climate, and how we affect its change.

On January 15, 2021, at 10 a.m. PT, Dustin Morris, PhD candidate in geology, presents "Snowballs in the Desert: Studying Climate Transitions in Earth's Deep Past." Morris uses the example of Snowball Earth-a time millions of years ago when our planet's climate was pushed to the extreme-to explain how Earth's climate functions and the critical role of carbon dioxide (CO2). He also discusses how geologists unravel the climate history of Earth and use that knowledge to respond to climate change today.

On February 5, 2021, at 10 a.m. PT, in "Beyond Bones: Reading the Fossil Record of Earth and Other Worlds," Cecilia Sanders, PhD candidate in geobiology, explains how the living and nonliving parts of our planet have shaped each other. She recounts previous episodes of climate and biological upheaval, and how they differ from our current human-influenced climate crisis.

"Giving young students opportunities to learn from these young scientists not only helps them connect to their studies, but also inspires them to explore their own interests and opportunities," says Michael Alexander, director of Caltech public programming and host of the Science Journeys series.

All lecture content meets eighth-grade science standards.


Dustin Morris

Dustin Morris is a PhD candidate in geology at Caltech who uses the rock record to study extreme changes in Earth's past climate. Our planet's climate is dynamic, having changed in various ways throughout its long history. By studying these past climate changes, Morris hopes we can better understand Earth's climate overall, along with its impact on sea level and the evolution of life. This work can help us better understand and tackle our current climate crisis caused by human activity. To conduct this work, Morris travels to Namibia to study the sedimentary rocks that record the end of the Snowball Earth event, one of the most extreme climate transitions in Earth's history.

Beyond research, Morris teaches others about the wonders of Earth history and geology through outreach events aimed at sparking curiosity and building an inclusive and diverse community within the sciences.

Cecilia Sanders

Cecilia Sanders is a PhD candidate in geobiology at Caltech who studies the geologic record for information about lifeforms on ancient Earth. This is an extension of the work she did for her master's degree in planetary sciences, during which she became intrigued by the preservation problem: How do living things impact the world around them in a way that is preserved in rocks for millions to billions of years?

Sanders tries to answer these questions by measuring and sampling assemblages of ancient, sedimentary rock and by creating models of the ancient world using living organisms in the laboratory. Her work has taken her to Brazil, Namibia, Turks and Caicos, all over the southwestern United States, and even back home to the fossiliferous cliffs of Maryland and Washington, D.C.

When not doing research, she teaches science to kindergarten students and first and second graders in Pasadena Unified schools and is a community activist for racial justice.


All Science Journey lectures are available for on-demand viewing on Caltech's YouTube Channel.

A Science Journey with...

  • Jake Evans, "Fueling the World Engine: Chemistry for Solar Fuels"

Original air date: November 6, 2020 |View Now

  • Salvador Gomez, "Fluid Dynamics: From Disturbances to Turbulence"

Original air date: November 20, 2020 | View Now

  • Michael Mazza, "From Pencil Lead to Skyscrapers: Building the Future with Carbon Nanomaterials"

Original air date: December 11, 2020 | View Now

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