Rajdeep Dasgupta

2014 James B. Macelwane Medal Winner

Rajdeep Dasgupta, Christian Frankenberg, J. Taylor Perron, David Lawrence Shuster, and Jessica Erin Tierney were awarded the 2014 James B. Macelwane Medal at the AGU Fall Meeting Honors Ceremony, held on 17 December 2014 in San Francisco, Calif. The medal is for “significant contributions to the geophysical sciences by an outstanding early career scientist.”


It is fitting that one of this year’s Macelwane awards is being given to Rajdeep Dasgupta. There are but a handful of people who have accomplished so much and have had such an impact on the scientific community at such a young age.

Together with his students, he has published a series of papers that have defined him and his laboratory at Rice University as one of the world leaders in understanding the role of volatiles in phase equilibria. His work is now the gold standard for the melting of rocks in carbon dioxide–rich systems, and he has provided new models and data for carbon dioxide solubility in melts. He has also provided new constraints on carbon solubility in the core and has given us a deeper understanding of how melting happens in the mantle, with implications for the physical properties of the astheno­sphere.

On top of all the experimental work, he has still managed to find time to synthesize observations with experiments, providing the community with comprehensive and, at times, provocative views of how the whole Earth carbon cycle operated, from magma oceans in the Hadean to the plate tectonics at present. These are clearly hot topics in the Earth science community right now, but it is clear that Raj has played a dominant role in defining these research directions, rather than being someone who follows fads. Thus, it is no surprise that he is continuing to push new frontiers as we speak. He is currently working on sulfur solubility in a variety of petrologic systems in order to understand sulfur transport in subduction zones and even during Martian magmatism.

On top of his research accomplishments, Raj has also carved a niche for himself as a great mentor and educator, inspiring and working with numerous graduate students and undergraduates. His ability to pay attention to important details and, at the same time, maintain the big picture is a skill that all desire but few have. Raj is the quintessential role model for a new generation of petrologists.

—Cin-Ty Lee, Rice University, Houston, Texas


Thank you, Cin-Ty, for the kind and generous citation and thanks to the Macelwane committee and those who contributed toward my nomination for their time and consideration. I am deeply honored to receive this recognition from AGU. Especially, looking at the list of illustrious scientists who received this award in the past, I feel humbled.

It is usual for the honorees to thank some key people and recall a few defining moments in occasions like this, and my response, in many ways, is not going to be different. Without the tutelage and encouragement of Somnath Dasgupta, Pulak Sengupta, Sudipta Sengupta, Pradip Bose, the late Prasanta Bhattacharya, Subir Ghosh, and many others at Jadavpur University during my B.Sc. and M.Sc. days; the guidance of Marc Hirschmann at University of Minnesota during my Ph.D. work; and the supervision of Dave Walker during my postdoc research at Lamont, I would not be standing here. In particular, getting a taste of the full course of geological sciences at Jadavpur, learning how to ask important questions and connect small-scale experiments to big-scale processes from Marc, and the out-of-the-box and free thinking under the support of Dave were all essential for me.

When I wrote similar responses even 2–3 years ago, I could have stopped with more or less what I have written thus far. But for this particular recognition, I feel it is really my time at Rice University since 2008 that made this happen. I am grateful to the Department of Earth Science for providing me with the much-needed support to build my experimental lab and group plus supportive colleagues. Not too many young investigators can say with confidence that it is the work of their current and past advisees that brought them the recognition. But it is certainly the hard work, dedication, and accomplishments of Ananya Mallik, Kyusei Tsuno, Justin Filiberto, Veronique Le Roux, Han Chi, Megan Duncan, Echo Ding, Sébastien Jégo, Laura Carter, Yuan Li, James Eguchi, Sriparna Saha, and several undergraduate researchers that made my scientific career flourish in recent years. So I am standing here simply on behalf of all of them, and they should feel as proud as I do today.

Finally, the adventure with geology and life would have been impossible without Sushmita and so much less fun to look forward to without Pritthij, Aurno, and Odri. So this is to all of you as well.

—Rajdeep Dasgupta, Rice University, Houston, Texas