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Bio

Samuel is an Ocean Worlds Scientist in the Planetary Interiors and Geophysics Group at JPL. He primarily works on constraining geologic processes on Ocean Worlds and the connection from their icy surfaces to interiors. Additionally, he supports the Europa Clipper mission as a Project Staff Scientist, and is the Deputy Principle Investigator and Lead Scientist for JPL's PRIME, a technology concept to explore the interior oceans of Ocean Worlds.


Samuel 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. He 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 2017 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.

Contact

Feel free to reach out to me at samuel.m.howell@jpl.nasa.gov.