Tiku Ravat Honored by Purdue University

By Colleen Glenn

Earlier this year, Dhananjay Ravat, Chair of UK’s Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, was named an Outstanding Alumnus of the Purdue University Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences. Ravat, who earned his Ph.D. from Purdue in 1989, was delighted by the news. The award was presented in a ceremony on the campus of Purdue University on September 30, 2011.

“Being honored by your teachers is probably one of the ultimate honors,” Ravat said. “For me, it sort of validates all the teaching and research I have been involved in the past 20 years. It also energizes me to do more.”

In receiving this honor, Ravat joins a small and elite group of Purdue Earth and Atmospheric Sciences alumni that include scientists who have excelled in academia, industry, or government organizations like NASA. In fact, one of the other winners of this award is an astronaut, so Ravat’s honor speaks for his exceptional academic achievements.

The award recognized Ravat for his long-standing research on the magnetic and gravity anomaly field of the earth and planets, research on environmental, international and global topics, and international collaborations.

Over the last ten years, Ravat has been involved in studying the magnetic field from rocks on Mars. This includes examining from what depths in the planet the rocks come and what their patterns mean in terms of their geologic origin.

In another research project in 2009, Ravat’s research group at UK created the most accurate map of magnetic fields arising from the rocks in the Earth's crust from over 500 individual magnetic field surveys over the United States. According to Ravat, the map can help identify geologic and tectonic provinces, mineral resources, and hotter or cooler regions deep inside the Earth's crust.

“The previous map made in 2002 was inaccurate because the individual surveys didn't match well at their individual survey boundaries and so gave wrong results when studying layers deeper inside the Earth,” Ravat explains. “The techniques we developed and used over the last decade have overcome these previous problems. In the end, our product cost less than $100K as opposed to tens of millions it would have taken to fly a new cohesive aeromagnetic survey of the U.S.”

Despite his enormous success in research, Ravat is not just interested in research. He places a high value on teaching and interacting with students.

“What I like about being at UK is discussing research with my students and guiding them through hurdles,” says Ravat. “That's what being an educator is about. If I can inspire my students to become better scientists and better citizens of the world, I think I will have achieved something.”

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