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Samuel  Howell's Picture
Jet Propulsion Laboratory
M/S 183-301
4800 Oak Grove Drive
Pasadena, CA 91109
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Curriculum Vitae:

Samuel Howell

Samuel is a Caltech Postdoctoral Scholar in the Geochemistry and Astrobiology Group at JPL, as well as a Project Science Postdoctoral Affiliate on the Europa Clipper mission.

He obtained his B.S. in Engineering Physics from the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology with a concentration in Mechanical Engineering and minor in Thermal Fluid Mechanics. Samuel obtained his M.S. and PhD in Geology and Geophysics University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, where he explored planetary-scale process through studies of local surface features. His research on Earth, the first-discovered ocean world, focused on the simple understanding that observable features are fingerprints of the planetary processes at depth: failure, flow, melting, mixing, and material transport. Samuel’s graduate research garnered national attention, including a 2016 Popular Mechanics Breakthrough Award for innovation detecting and predicting motions on the San Andreas Fault.

Samuel’s current and proposed research concerns the mechanisms and timescales of ocean world material mixing and evolution, as well as the exchange of materials between interior oceans and outer ice shells. His recent research linking tectonic processes on Europa and Ganymede to the surface exposure of fossilized ocean material received NASA-wide coverage and the 2016 JPL Outstanding Postdoctoral Research Award in Planetary Science and Astrobiology.

In his spare time, he has climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, completed triathlons and marathons, and serendipitously met his wife, Marissa, an expert on the surfaces of icy moons.


PhD Geology and Geophysics, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, Dec. 2017

M.S. Geology and Geophysics, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, Aug. 2013

B.S. Engineering Physics, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, May, 2010

Research Interests

Ocean worlds, tectonics, surface-ocean interaction, astrobiology, convection, faulting, geodynamics, numerical modeling, statistical modeling

Professional Experience

NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Caltech Postdoctoral Scholar     2017- Present
Europa Clipper Science Team Postdoctoral Affiliate in Project Science 2018 – Present

University of Hawai’I Mānoa
Research Assistant        2010 - 2016
Teaching Assistant       2011

Research Cruise TN273, The tectonics, igneous activity, and mineralization of the southern Mariana Forearc
Sonar Tow Pilot, R/V Thomas G. Thompson      2012 

Research Cruise ARGGH2010Aegir Ridge Geology, Geophysics, and Hotspot Interaction
Shipboard Scientist, R/V Haakon Mosby           2010

Selected Awards

2017 Outstanding Postdoctoral Research in Planetary Science and Life Detection, Jet Propulsion Laboratory

2016 Popular Mechanics Breakthrough Award for study on vertical motions of the San Andreas Fault System

2015 Graduate Achievement Award, Dept. of Geology and Geophysics / Office of Graduate Education

Selected Publications
  • Howell, S., R.T. Pappalardo (2018, in revision), Can Earth-like plate tectonics occur in the outer ice shells of icy satellites? Icarus
  • Howell, S., L. Chou, 18 others (2018), Centaur reconnaissance mission concept: Chariklo flyby and impact, Planetary and Space Science, doi:10.1016/j.pss.2018.07.008
  • Howell, S., R.T. Pappalardo (2018), Band formation and ocean-surface interaction on Europa and Ganymede, Geophysical Research Letters, doi:10.1029/2018GL077594
  • Howell, S., G. Ito, M. D. Behn, F. Martinez, J.-A. Olive, and J. Escartín (2016), Magmatic and tectonic extension at the Chile Ridge: Evidence for mantle controls on ridge segmentation, Geochem. Geophys. Geosyst., doi:10.1002/2016GC006380
  • Howell, S., B. Smith-Konter, N. Frazier, X. Tong, D. Sandwell (2016), The vertical fingerprint of earthquake cycle loading in Southern California, Nature Geoscience, doi:10.1038/ngeo2741
  • Olive, J.-A., M. D. Behn, G. Ito, W. R. Buck, J. Escartín, S. Howell (2016), Response to Comment on “Sensitivity of seafloor bathymetry to climate-driven fluctuations in mid-ocean ridge magma supply”, Science, doi:10.1126/science.aaf2021
  • Olive, J.-A., M. D. Behn, G. Ito, W. R. Buck, J. Escartín, S. Howell (2015), Sensitivity of seafloor bathymetry to climate-driven fluctuations in mid-ocean ridge magma supply, Science, doi:10.1126/science.aad0715.
  • Howell, S., G. Ito, A.J. Breivik, A. Rai, R. Mjelde, B. Hanan, K. Sayit, P. Vogt (2014), The origin of the asymmetry in the Iceland hotspot along the Mid-Atlantic Ridge from continental breakup to present-day, Earth Planet. Sci. Lett., doi:10.1016/j.epsl.2014.02.020.
  • Boston, S. Howell, J. Sleeper, A. Anderson, M. Cameron, T. Sigurdardottir, J. Tree, H. Togia, B. Smith-Konter, G. F. Moore, (2018), Seafloor Mapping at Your Fingertips: Setting Sail on Sonar Education with an Interactive Exhibit, The Earth Scientist, 34, 1, 11-15.
  • Boston, S. Howell, G. Moore, University of Hawaii Geophysical Society (2014), A miniature research vessel: A small-scale ocean-exploration demonstration of geophysical methods, The Leading Edge, SEG, doi:10.1190/tle33121408.1
  • Howell, S., E. Leonard, Incorporating ocean impurities within Europa's ice shell: Salty tree-rings? in preparation for Geophysical Research Letters
  • Howell, S., J-A. Olive, G. Ito. M. D. Behn, J. Escartin, B. Kaus, Seafloor expression of oceanic detachment faults reflects gradients in mid-ocean ridge magma supply, in preparation for Earth and Planetary Science Letters

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