Stephen E. Cox

About Me

I am a geologist, isotope geochemist, and geochronologist. I study the geochemistry of noble gases. I was a Columbia University undergraduate from 2005 to 2009, a graduate student with Ken Farley at Caltech from October 2010 to December 2016, and I am now an associate research scientist in the Noble Gas Laboratory at Columbia's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. I am originally from Fort Worth, Texas, where I attended R.L. Paschal High School.

My research interests include noble gas mass spectrometry, geochronology and thermochronology, palaeoclimate, and surface processes. As an undergraduate, I conducted research on erosion rates in East Antarctica using detrital thermochronology. As a grad student, I worked on projects involving the development of (U-Th)/Ne, U-Kr, and U-Xr dating techniques. I have characterized the production rate of neon from alpha particles in all minerals, studied the diffusion of neon from several minerals, and worked on the development of a static vacuum quadrupole ion trap mass spectrometer for terrestrial and extraterrestrial geochronology at JPL. My current work includes the evolution of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets, the dating of very young volcanic rocks, the evolution of the Turkana Basin and the East African Rift, and improvements in noble gas mass spectrometry and geochronological methods.

I am also interested in enogeology, the intersection of agriculture, winemaking, geology, and climate. Wine is one of the most culturally and economically important agricultural products, and the concept or terroir is perhaps the earliest recognition of the dynamic and multifaceted relationship between agriculture, climate, geology, soil, and biology. As an earth scientist, I am fascinated by the many ways that the earth system influences vines and wine, from the rocks that the roots of the vines mine for water and minerals to the impact of our changing and increasingly volatile climate system on vineyards and winemaking.