The winners of the 2022 Pierazzo International Student Travel Award established by the Planetary Science Institute have been selected. Four rather than two recipients were named as a consequence of the 2021 Pierazzo Awards being canceled due to COVID-19 travel restrictions.

The Pierazzo International Student Travel Award was established by PSI in memory of Senior Scientist Betty Pierazzo to support and encourage graduate students to build international collaborations and relationships in planetary science.

Pim Kaskes, Ophélie McIntosh and Joseph McNeil will receive awards for non-U.S.-based graduate students going to a planetary-related conference within the U.S., and Suchitra Narayanan will receive an award as a U.S.-based graduate student going to a planetary-related conference outside of the U.S.

Pim Kaskes

Pim Kaskes of Vrije Universiteit Brussel will attend the 53st Lunar and Planetary Science Conference in The Woodlands, Texas, March 7-11, 2022. His research titles are “Suevite emplacement and impact melt dynamics within the Chicxulub impact structure” and “High-Resolution chemostratigraphy across the Cretaceous-Paleogene boundary.” Kaskes’ work provides new evidence for physical parameters to use as input for impact and climate models linked to the Chicxulub asteroid impact that resulted in a mass extinction event that eliminated about 80 percent of all species of animals, including the dinosaurs. This work also provides knowledge for finetuning models of hypervelocity impacts elsewhere in the Solar System.

Ophélie McIntosh

Ophélie McIntosh of University Paris-Saclay will attend the Astrobiology Science Conference (AbSciCon) in Atlanta, Georgia, May 15-20, 2022. Her research title is “Thermal reactivity of organic molecules with chloride salts: consequences for the chemical composition of Mars samples analyzed in situ with the GCMS, SAM, and MOMA instruments.” She will discuss the influence of chloride salts on the thermal degradation of organic molecules in Mars-like conditions and the meaning of these results in the search for biosignatures on the Martian surface and sub-surface. Her work could identify new organic compounds of astrobiological importance and optimize the Mars rover sampling locations.

Joseph McNeil

Joseph McNeil of Open University will attend the 53rd Lunar and Planetary Science Conference at The Woodlands, Texas, March 7-11, 2022.  His research title is “Windows into Noachian Mars: Eroded landforms in Chryse Planitia and the ExoMars rover landing site.” He will discuss his research into the geology of a population of kilometer-scale mounds, buttes, and mesas which exist around the margin of Chryse Planitia, Mars. These landforms have revealed crucial new information on the stratigraphy of this important and ancient region, and have significant consequences for the geology of Oxia Planum, the landing site of ESA’s ExoMars 2022 Rover, Rosalind Franklin.

Suchitra Narayanan

Suchitra Narayanan of the University of Hawaii at Manoa will attend the Protostars and Planets VII conference in Kyoto, Japan, this September 2022 (date TBD). Her research title is “Analyzing the Substructure and Dynamics and Sulfur Organics Inventory of Oph IRS43.” She will discuss the first high-resolution look at the substructures and physical properties of this fascinating protoplanetary disk within which planets are expected to be in the earliest stages of formation.

A PSI representative will present each awardee with a certificate and check for $2,000 at their respective conferences.

Betty Pierazzo was an expert in the area of impact modeling throughout the solar system, as well as an expert on the astrobiological and environmental effects of impacts on Earth and Mars. In addition to her research, she was passionate about education, teaching and public outreach, developing planetary-related classroom materials, professional development workshops for teachers, and teaching college-level classes herself. Betty believed in the strength of broad collaborations in all of her research and education activities. This award memorializes the scope of how she lived her life and the good she sought to bring to our profession and communities. 

To contribute to the Betty Pierazzo Memorial fund, please go to:

To learn more about Betty Pierazzo please go to:


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PSI scientists are involved in numerous NASA and international missions, the study of Mars and other planets, the Moon, asteroids, comets, interplanetary dust, impact physics, the origin of the Solar System, extra-solar planet formation, dynamics, the rise of life, and other areas of research. They conduct fieldwork on all continents around the world. They also are actively involved in science education and public outreach through school programs, children’s books, popular science books and art.

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