Analyzing the Story of Earth

January 27, 2020

Counting Back Billions of Years

Professor Hystad’s research focuses on solving statistical problems in the new and emerging fields of mineral evolution and mineral ecology. This research effort is an ongoing collaboration with mineralogists, geoscientists, and data scientists from several academic institutions, to characterize Earth in terms of the evolution of minerals.

In particular, her work focuses on applying statistics to the analysis of deep time events (billions of years ago) that relate to the co-evolution of the geosphere and biosphere. The National Research Council has identified the co-evolution of the geosphere and biosphere as one of the 10 major research questions for 21st century Earth Science.

The contributions in the papers she and her research group have published so far are the first in an anticipated series of studies that attempt to apply large mineralogical data resources and statistical methods to understand the diversity and distribution of mineral species on Earth, as well as other terrestrial planets and moons. Hystad is widely published and is invited to be a keynote speaker for the inaugural Women in Data Science Earth Workshop at Stanford University in November 2019.

Hystad thoroughly enjoys working with students on research and has mentored five undergraduate students at PNW. As a result of this research, two of her students have given talks at national conferences.