The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation has awarded a Sloan Research Fellowship to Ian Garrick-Bethell, assistant professor of Earth and planetary sciences at UC Santa Cruz.

The prestigious two-year fellowship includes a grant of $50,000 to support Garrick-Bethell's research, which focuses on early lunar geophysics and geology. Awarded annually since 1955, the Sloan Research Fellowships are given to early-career scientists and scholars whose achievements and potential identify them as rising stars, the next generation of scientific leaders.

Garrick-Bethell is interested in how the moon developed its distinctive shape and topography. The moon's shape controls its orientation in the sky and probably influences the pattern of dark volcanic features covering the near side. Garrick-Bethell's research has developed several new approaches to understand the moon's shape in the context of the effects of Earth tides early in the moon's history. He has also quantified how the moon's orientation to the Earth has changed since its formation.

Lunar magnetism is another focus of Garrick-Bethell's research. He studies lunar magnetic anomalies detected by spacecraft and the magnetism of rocks brought back from the moon by Apollo astronauts. He plans to continue studying the paleomagnetism of two old Apollo samples using a new clean-air section of the paleomagnetism lab at UCSC. He will also continue leading the design of a new low-cost spacecraft that can perform the first near-surface measurements of the moon's strongest magnetic anomaly.

Garrick-Bethell has been a visiting international scholar at Kyung Hee University in South Korea since 2011. He earned his B.S. in physics at Wesleyan University and did graduate studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he earned an M.S. in aeronautics and astronautics and a Ph.D. in planetary science. He joined the UCSC faculty in 2010.