Member Since 2016
Shaunna M. Morrison
Carnegie Research Scientist, Carnegie Institution for Science
Professional Experience
Carnegie Institution for Science
Carnegie Research Scientist
2019 - Present
Carnegie Institution for Science
Research Scientist
2018 - 2019
Carnegie Institution for Science
Postdoctoral Researcher
2017 - 2018
University of Arizona
Graduate Student
2011 - 2016
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Education
University of Arizona
Masters
Georgia Southwestern State University
Bachelors
University of Arizona
Doctorate
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Honors & Awards
Ronald Greeley Early Career Award in Planetary Sciences
Received December 2023
Citation

Shaunna Morrison is an amazing scientist who has made groundbreaking contributions among her 4-score publications. She has garnered an exceptional international reputation, both in conducting unprecedented studies on Mars and in applying data-driven discovery to rocks and minerals on Earth and other worlds. Morrison’s earliest breakthroughs relate to studies of Mars mineralogy. A key member of the CheMin team (the X-ray diffractometer on Curiosity), she realized that Mars’s minerals could serve as internal X-ray standards and developed algorithms that increased the precision and accuracy of CheMin data by an order of magnitude better than flight specifications. In 2017 Morrison began to focus on planetary informatics. Leading a team of collaborators in mineralogy and data science, her first informatics paper focused on applications of network analysis to mineral systems. Shaunna’s breakthrough was to realize that networks of mineral associations facilitate analysis and visualization of mineral systems in dynamic, interactive renderings—a fresh approach to a centuries-old science. She is also building mineral databases for planets, moons, and meteorites to compare their properties using network metrics—an approach that suggests that mineral distributions may be a biosignature. Morrison is helping to develop a new “evolutionary system” of mineralogy, which adds the dimension of time to mineral classification. Recently, Morrison has been pioneering applications “association analysis,” using machine learning methods to predict as yet undiscovered localities of minerals, as well as Mars analogue sites on Earth. Several predictions have been confirmed, pointing to a promising new approach to resource discovery and interpretation. These advances have not gone unnoticed. She is a Mineralogical Society of America Distinguished Lecturer and delivers dozens of seminars, public lectures, and keynote and plenary conference lectures annually. She is active in organizing data science workshops and conferences, and she and her education colleagues won a national 4-H Club competition to develop an outreach program on Mars exploration and mineralogy—an effort that is reaching tens of thousands of children. Among Morrison’s most impressive traits is her desire to reach across disciplinary boundaries, to seek out scientists with expertise different from her own. As a member of NASA’s Astrobiology Institute, she is integrating seemingly disparate fields of proteomics, microbial ecology, geochemistry, and mineralogy to deduce how environmental characteristics play key roles in microbial protein expression. Her ability to work with and inspire others will play a vital role in her growing influence and her rise to the highest levels of the scientific world.

Robert M. Hazen, Earth and Planets Laboratory, Carnegie Institution, Washington, D.C.


Response
I am deeply honored to receive the Ronald Greeley Early Career Award in Planetary Sciences, and I extend my sincere gratitude to the selection committee. This recognition underscores the incredible mentorship, support, and collaboration I have been privileged to experience throughout my career. I wish to express my heartfelt thanks to those mentors and colleagues who have played transformative roles in my science and in my life. I would like to thank my undergraduate mentors, Thomas Weiland, Samuel Peavy, and Burchard Carter, for fostering my love of geology. I am deeply grateful to my M.S. and Ph.D. adviser, Robert Downs, for showing me how to be a scientist; for teaching that hard work, creativity, and excitement are paramount in doing cutting-edge science; and for enabling me to join the NASA Mars Science Laboratory’s CheMin team. The CheMin team, including David Blake, David Vaniman, Richard Morris, Doug Ming, Elizabeth Rampe, Thomas Bristow, Allan Treiman, and Cherie Achilles, holds my utmost gratitude for setting the gold standard of team dynamics and resilience in the face of challenges. I am profoundly grateful to Robert Hazen, whose expansive view of mineralogy and its role in Earth’s evolution broadened my scientific perspective—our work together has been among the most exciting and fulfilling of my career, and his unwavering support has been instrumental in my personal and professional growth. I would like to thank Peter Fox and Ahmed Eleish, whose willingness to share their expertise in data science empowered me to explore new frontiers with data-driven discovery and mineral informatics. My close collaborator, Anirudh Prabhu, is a pioneer of mineral informatics—I am so grateful for his readiness to discuss ideas and questions for hours on end, his visionary perspective, and his willingness to cross discipline boundaries to transform Earth and planetary sciences. My appreciation extends to my colleagues from scientific domains different from my own, including Mike Wong, Donato Giovannelli, Alexandra Ostroverkhova, Nathan Yee, Paul Falkowski, and James Wright, who broaden my ideas and push my scientific boundaries. I am grateful for the monumental efforts of Kerstin Lehnert, Marshall Ma, Jolyon Ralph, and their teams—their pioneering work in data stewardship makes data-driven discovery in mineralogy and geochemistry possible. Last, I acknowledge the Carnegie Institution for Science’s support of my research over the past 5 years, with special thanks to Michael Walter and Eric Isaacs for their belief in this new direction of science. —Shaunna Morrison, Carnegie Institution, Washington, D.C.
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Publications
Uranium Redox and Deposition Transitions Embedded in Deep‐Time Geochemical Models and Mineral Chemis...

Uranium (U) is an important global energy resource and a redox sensitive trace element that reflects changing environmental conditions and geochemi...

February 09, 2024
AGU Abstracts
Sulfate Mineral Suites at Gale Crater, Mars, by X-ray Diffraction
MARTIAN SULFATES STUDIED USING ORBITAL, GROUND, LABORATORY, AND EARTH DATA I ORAL
planetary sciences | 15 december 2023
David T. Vaniman, Steve Chipera, Elizabeth B. Ramp...
A prime reason for sending Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) to Gale crater was orbital evidence of a transition from sulfate-poor sediments of a wet envi...
View Abstract
Unraveling the Enigma of Ungrouped Chondrites: A Data Science Approach for Exploring their Origins
NEXT-GENERATION MINERALOGY, PETROLOGY, AND GEOCHEMISTRY: NEW APPROACHES TO HARNESSING THE MULTIDIMENSIONALITY OF COMPLEX EARTH AND PLANETARY SYSTEMS I POSTER
volcanology, geochemistry and petrology | 15 december 2023
Alexandra Ostroverkhova, Maureen Clark, Anirudh Pr...
Ungrouped chondrites constitute a distinctive subset of chondrites that diverge from the currently established classification groups. While some of th...
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From detecting agnostic biosignatures to characterizing chondrites: How network science is perfect for making scientific discoveries with geochemical data
NEXT-GENERATION MINERALOGY, PETROLOGY, AND GEOCHEMISTRY: NEW APPROACHES TO HARNESSING THE MULTIDIMENSIONALITY OF COMPLEX EARTH AND PLANETARY SYSTEMS II ORAL
volcanology, geochemistry and petrology | 15 december 2023
Anirudh Prabhu, Michael Wong, Shaunna M. Morrison,...
Analyzing geochemical data uses common statistical methods including probability distributions, regression, multivariate analyses etc. A major roadblo...
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