Dr. Kimberly Huppert

Kimberly Huppert
Dr. Kimberly Huppert
Building A 27, Room 101
14473 Potsdam
+49 331 288-27522


2019 - present: Senior research scientist, GFZ
2017 - 2018: Postdoctoral research scientist, GFZ
2011 - 2017: Graduate student research & teaching assistant, MIT


2017: PhD Geology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
2011: BS Civil Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology


Climate and landscape evolution on volcanic ocean islands 
Volcanic ocean islands provide an exceptional natural laboratory for studying the influence of climate on landscape evolution because they typically have homogenous bedrock, dramatic rainfall gradients, and remnant surfaces that constrain their age, initial topography, and vertical motions relative to sea level. My thesis research examined the influence of mean annual rainfall on bedrock river incision and landscape evolution on the Hawaiian island of Kaua'i. I am currently examining the influence of rainfall and discharge variability on Kauaian bedrock river incision.
  • Huppert, K.L. (2017), Climatic and geodynamic influences on ocean island geomorphology: PhD Thesis, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences, http://hdl.handle.net/1721.1/108915.
  • Ferrier, K.L., Perron, J.T., Mukhopadhyay, S., Rosener, M., Stock, J.D., Huppert, K.L., Slosberg, M. (2013), Covariation of climate and long-term erosion rates across a steep rainfall gradient on Kaua'i. Geological Society of America Bulletin 125(7-8), 1146 - 1163, doi:10.1130/B30726.1
  • Ferrier, K.L., Huppert, K.L., Perron, J.T. (2013), Climatic control of bedrock river incision. Nature 496, 206 - 209, doi:10.1038/nature11982. [Press: MIT News]
Island vertical motion
Geologic evidence of island uplift and subsidence can provide important observational constraints on the rheology, thermal evolution, and dynamics of the lithosphere and mantle, in addition to constraining the boundary conditions for the topographic, climatic, and biogeographic evolution of island landscapes. My thesis research examined mechanisms of island vertical motion at ocean hotspots, using dated paleoshorelines, bathymetric analyses, and modeling to understand the relative contribution of lithosphere and mantle processes to surface deformation. In ongoing projects, I am comparing geophysical models to high-resolution records of relative sea level change in the Hawaiian Islands.
  • Huppert, K.L., Perron, J.T., Royden, L.H. (submitted), Hotspot swells and the lifespan of volcanic ocean islands.
  • Toomey, M.R., Sandstrom, R.M., Huppert, K.L., Taylor, F.W., Cronin, T.M. (in review), Subsidence of Oahu, Hawaiian Islands, during the past two million years.
  • Huppert, K.L., Royden, L.H., Perron, J.T. (2015), Dominant influence of volcanic loading on vertical motions of the Hawaiian Islands. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 418, 149 - 171, doi:10.1016/j.epsl.2015.02.027.
Oscillatory flow sand ripples 
Because the spacing of orbital sand ripple formed by shallow water waves scales with wave conditions and water depth, ripples preserved in sedimentary rocks can be used to infer paleoenvironmental conditions. However, modern and ancient ripple fields often contain defects - deviations from straight, evenly spaced crests - whose formation and evolution are not well understood. As an undergraduate, I performed a series of experiments in a field-scale laboratory wave tank to characterize the response of a rippled bed to changing wave conditions. 
  • Perron, J.T., Myrow, P.M., Huppert, K.L., Koss, A.R., Wickert, A.D. (2018), Ancient record of changing flows from wave ripple defects. Geology 46, 875-878, doi:10.1130/G45463.1. [Press: MIT NewsAtlas Obscura]
  • Perron, J.T., Myrow, P.M., Huppert, K.L., Koss, A.R., Wickert, A.D. (2016), Wave Ripple Time-Lapse Experiments. SEAD Internal Repository, doi:10.5967/M0QR4V39.


2013 - 2016: NASA Earth and Space Science Fellowship
2013: National Center for Airborne Laser Mapping Seed Project Grant
2011 - 2012: MIT Presidential Graduate Fellowship
2011: AGU Outstanding Student Paper Award, Earth & Planetary Surface Processes
2010: Chi Epsilon Civil Engineering Honor Society
Invited talks:
 2018:   AGU Fall Meeting, Earth & Planetary Surface Processes Focus Group
               GFZ - PIK Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research Workshop
               GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences, Earth Surface Process Modelling Seminar
               EGU General Assembly, Geomorphology Program
               University of Wyoming, Department of Geology & Geophysics Colloquium
               Washington University in St. Louis, Department of Earth & Planetary Sciences Colloquium
2017:    GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences, Geomorphology Seminar
               UCLA Department of Earth, Planetary, and Space Sciences, Tectonics & Seismology Seminar
               Sediment Experimentalists Network Workshop, Tsukuba, Japan
2016:    AGU Fall Meeting, Volcanology, Geochemistry, & Petrology Focus Group
Teaching, service, & outreach: 
MIT graduate student teaching assistant
2016: Introduction to Geology (12.001)
2015: Geomorphology (12.163/12.463)
2014: Introduction to Geophysics and Planetary Science (12.002)
2013-2015: Incoming Freshman Field Trip to Yellowstone & Grand Teton National Parks
ReviewerGeology, The Journal of Geology
Conference session co-convener
2019: EGU General Assembly GM8.2/HS9.2.3 Sediment transport and channel morphology in mountain rivers
2018: AGU Fall Meeting EP21: The role and relevance of thresholds, event variability, and disturbance across landscapes
Seminar organizer
2018 - present: GFZ Earth Surface Process Modelling Seminar
2018 - present: GFZ Earth Surface Dynamics Lecture Series
2018 - present: MIT Educational Council undergraduate admissions alumni interviewer
2018 - present: Letters to a Pre-Scientist pen-pal to a middle school prospective scientist
2018 - present: Skype a Scientist classroom video chat guest scientist