Emmy Hughes, a Ph.D. candidate in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at Georgia Tech has been selected as a recipient of the Achievement Rewards for College Scientists (ARCS) Scholar Foundation award. Hughes, who specializes in planetary science, will join 11 returning scholars from Tech who were previously recognized by ARCS as outstanding doctoral students.

Scholars are selected annually by qualifying departments of science, engineering, and medical research within the ARCS Foundation’s 51 academic partner universities. Hughes was nominated by her advisor, Professor James Wray

“It is a tremendous honor,” said Hughes. “It is an amazing thing to have your advisor nominate you for something like this because it’s a great vote of confidence in your ability.”

“Emmy is a truly exceptional young scientist,” said Wray. “She has a broad scientific skillset that she capably applies to a range of projects, driven by innate curiosity and immense enthusiasm. Her talent, passion, and positivity have hugely reinvigorated my research group; I am so proud to be her advisor. She is an outstanding representative for our School and College within Georgia Tech and for the Institute as a whole.”

Hughes is a planetary geologist primarily focused on the history and surface of Mars.  

“There’s a lot of things that tell geologists today that there was once water on Mars,” said Hughes. “I’m particularly interested in the geologic history of Mars and the surface of Mars and what that can tell us about the ancient history of water on the Martian surface.”

Hughes’ work is focused on using salts and other materials like amorphous silica to learn about the temperature of the water that was present and how long it was there. This involves using data from the surface of Mars. The ARCS award provides scholars $7,500 in unrestricted funding. These funds will support Hughes in conducting experiments required for her thesis.

“This is something that I have been wanting to do,” said Hughes. “I proposed it in my thesis proposal draft, and we hadn’t figured out a way to fund it, and I’m totally going to be able to do it now. I am appreciative of the fact that it doesn’t have strings attached. I think that gives people great flexibility.”  

A scholars’ award ceremony will be held in November to honor the Atlanta chapter’s recipients. 

The ARCS fellowship is made possible each year by way of the fundraising and continuous generous support of the ARCS Foundation Atlanta Chapter.