The Morton K. Blaustein Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences congratulates our colleague Kevin Lewis, whose promotion to Associate Professor with tenure was approved by the Board of Trustees on June 28, 2021.
Prof. Lewis’s research focuses on the history of Mars. Extensive geological evidence that Mars could have had flowing liquid water in the past makes it a possible place for life to have evolved outside of the Earth. Whether life actually developed on the Red Planet depends on how long this water persisted. As a result, a major focus of Martian exploration has been focused on features which could have been formed underwater. However, Prof. Lewis has championed the idea that periodic “airfall” deposits of volcanic ash (such as that which buried Pompeii) or wind-blown deposits may play a critical role in Martian geology. Two particularly important results were his discovery that the geological feature being explored by the Curiosity Rover is extremely light – suggesting that it was formed by wind rather than under water, and the finding that much of the dust on Mars may have come from a single volcanic eruption rather than being progressively eroded over time. Both of these results have fundamental implications for understanding the history of Mars.
Prof. Lewis is deeply involved with education, having helped lead the rejuvenation of field geology with EPS, teaching key introductory courses, and serving as Director of Undergraduate Studies.