The Squad

Gaia Stucky de Quay

Hi, I’m Gaia (she/her). I’m an Assistant Professor at the Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences (EAPS) at MIT. Born in Brazil, with Spanish citizenship, and raised in Portugal, I feel right at home in the warm, tropical climate of Boston. Before I ended up here, I obtained my PhD from Imperial College London (with a UChicago internship), and an MSci from University College London whre I first fell in love with Earth and Planetary Sciences. Following that, I completed postdocs at UT Austin and Harvard. I started this new position in 2023 and I am looking forward to getting my new group and lab up and running. In general, I’m interested in why landscapes look the way they do. I’ve looked at channels buried below the seabed, canyons in Iceland, and lakes on Mars — but I’m always looking for new places to explore! My weak spot is a waterfall, how can you not love them? Outside of work, I love tennis, triathlons, art, reading, and so many other things that I can’t fit here. Check out the amazing members of our group below 🙂

Postdoctoral Associates

Dr. Prakhar Sinha

Born in Patna, a north Indian city on the banks of river Ganga, I spent my early childhood amidst the scenic mountains in Nepal and later moved to Bengaluru, where in my schooling years at Nagarjuna Vidyaniketan, I was inspired to explore space and planets. My professional education began with an undergraduate degree in Mechanical Engineering from Ramaiah Institute of Technology, India in 2014 and thereafter I served as an Executive Engineer at Larsen & Toubro. Determined to pursue my interest in space exploration, I went on to receive a Master’s in Aeronautics and Astronautics followed by a Ph.D. in planetary sciences at Purdue University. My dissertation assesses the mineralogy and surface processes at the polar regions of Mars through orbital spectroscopy and carries out sediment provenance study of mafics within the glacio-fluvio-aeolian landscapes in Iceland using the technique of color analysis, spectroscopy, and x-ray fluorescence. I am excited to study paleoclimate of Mars by analyzing its fluvial system, lake hydrology, alteration mineralogy, etc. using remote datasets and exploring Earth analogs as well. Beyond academics, I aspire to be a planetary explorer and have previously participated in high-altitude Himalayan expeditions, taken lessons in scuba diving, and am learning to pilot a trainer aircraft.

Dr. Chuanqi He

I am Chuanqi He, born in 1992. I obtained a PhD (2021) in structural geology from Zhejiang University. Currently, I am a postdoc at German Research Centre for Geosciences. I will join Gaia’s lab at MIT as a postdoc in June 2023. I am interested in tectonic geomorphology, with a focus on the migration of drainage divides and its implications for climate and biodiversity. My research aims to shed light on the dynamics of divide motion, how and why divide migration affects regional rainfall and biodiversity, especially freshwater species. To this end, I use Landscape evolution modeling (TopoToolbox Landscape Evolution Model, Fastscape), topographic analysis (ArcGIS, TopoToolbox), fieldwork, and flume experiments. My study areas include Taiwan island, Sicily, and the graben system around the Ordos block in China. I also like badminton, swimming, and bouldering. Check out the links below for my latest work!

Undergrads & Assistants

Vespera Luo

I am based at UChicago and studying Geophysical Sciences. I have broad interests in landscape evolution, planetary formation, and geochemical cycles. I will be working in Gaia’s lab focusing on Mars hillslopes and paleoclimate through the UChicago Quad summer funding scheme. In the lab, I sit around and complain about craters and my own code. In my free time, I consider myself a street park/national park connoisseur, and am very judgmental about novels and food.

⚠️ Opportunities ⚠️

We are always looking for creative and motivated people to work with us. Have a look around and see if you find any projects interesting, and that overlap with your research goals. I have provided some options below for ways to join.

Postdoc research: EAPS has a Distinguished Postdoctoral Fellowship (applications due each fall).

Undergrad research: Look through MIT’s UROP or MSRP programs and contact me or any group member with your CV and interests.

Graduate research: MIT EAPS accepts PhD applications each fall. Students willing to secure their own funding are welcome to reach out.