minus plus magnify speech newspaper atomic biology chemistry computer-science earth-science forensic-services globe info math matrix molecule neuroscience pencil physics pin psychology email share atsign clock double-left-chevron double-right-chevron envelope fax phone tumblr googleplus pinterest twitter facebook feed linkedin youtube flickr instagram
Kathy Licht, Ph.D.



  • Ph.D., Geological Sciences, University of Colorado, Boulder, 1999
  • M.S., Geological Sciences, University of Colorado, Boulder, 1995
  • B.S., Natural Science, St. Norbert College, 1992

Courses Taught / Teaching

I regularly teach courses at the introductory level (Oceanography and Antarctic Geology), intermediate level (Principles of Sedimentation and Stratigraphy) and the graduate level (Glacial Geology).


Overall my research focuses on understanding the history of the Antarctic ice sheet so we can better determine what causes it to advance and retreat and how that fits in with the global climate system.  I have several active grants through the National Science Foundation that have provided opportunites for us to collect field data, which provides important new data to help us determine Antarctica's history. One project builds on our previous work in the Ross Sea (Licht et al., 2014) and includes provenance analysis of glacial sediments in the Weddell Sea region of Antarctica.  A second grant provided funding for us to collect radar data that lets us see beneath the ice surface and characterize the internal structure of the ice.  The glacial deposits at this research site are unusual in that they contains a relatively continuous sequence of glacial deposits spanning more than one glacial-interglacial cycle, allowing us to document ice sheet changes on these long time scales.  If you want to know more about our field seasons, you can scroll back through our Twitter account (@IUPUIonice).

The scientific objectives of our work dovetail with an international effort strongly focused on studying and modeling Antarctic ice sheet history, in part because of its potential impact on global sea level rise. The variation of till compositions through time also allows for better down core interpretation of cores from the Ross Sea and the Southern Ocean. Additionally, till exposures at the head of some East Antarctic outlets have been shown to contain subglacial material derived from East Antarctic bedrock, providing a window through the ice with which to view East Antarctica's inaccessible bedrock.

Publications & Professional Activities

Licht, K.J., and Hemming, S., 2017.  Analysis of Antarctic glacigenic sediment provenance through geochemical and petrologic applications (Invited Review). Quaternary Science Reviews 164, 1-24.

*Bader, N.A., Licht, K.J., Kaplan, M.R., *Kassab, C., and Winckler, G., 2017. East Antarctic ice sheet stability since the mid-Pleistocene recorded in a high-elevation ice-cored moraine. Quaternary Science Reviews 159, p.88-102.

Farmer, G.L., and Licht, K.L., 2016. Generation and Fate of Glacial Sediments in the central Transantarctic Mountains based on Radiogenic Isotopes and Implications for Reconstructing Past Ice Dynamics. Quaternary Science Reviews 150, p.98-109.

*Welke, B., Licht K., *Hennessy, A., Hemming, S., Pierce-Davis, E., *Kassab, C., 2016. Applications of detrital geochronology and thermochronology from glacial deposits to the Paleozoic and Mesozoic thermal history of the Ross Embayment, Antarctica. Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems, 17, doi:10.1002/2015GC005941.

Licht, K.J., *Hennessy, A.J., and *Welke, B.M., 2014. The U/Pb detrital zircon signature of West Antarctic ice stream tills in the Ross Embayment, with implications for LGM ice flow reconstructions.  Antarctic Science 26, 687-697.

Licht, K.J., and *Palmer, E.F., 2013.  Erosion and transport by Byrd Glacier, Antarctica during the last glacial maximum.  Quaternary Science Reviews, v.62, p.32-48.

*Palmer, E.F., Licht, K.J., Swope, R.J., and Hemming, S.R., 2012. Nunatak moraines as a repository of what lies beneath the East Antarctic ice sheet, in Rasbury, E.T., Hemming, S.R., and Riggs, N.R., eds., Mineralogical and Geochemical Approaches to Provenance. Geological Society of America Special Paper 487, 97-104, doi:10.1130/2012.2487(05).

Goodge, J., Fanning, M., *Brecke, D., Licht, K., *Palmer, E., 2010.  Continuation of the Laurentian Grenville province across the Ross Sea margin of Antarctica.  Journal of Geology, v. 118, p. 601-619.

*Nelson, J.A., Licht, K., Yansa, C., and Filippelli, G., 2010. Climate-related cyclic deposition of carbonate and organic matter in Holocene lacustrine sediment, Lower Michigan, USA.  Journal of Paleolimnology. DOI: 10.1007/s10933-009-9381-0

Farmer, G.L., Licht, K., Swope, R.J., and Andrews, J.T., 2006.  Isotopic constraints on the provenance of fine-grained sediment in LGM till from the Ross Embayment, Antarctica.  Earth and Planetary Science Letters, v.249, p.90-107.

Licht, K.J., *Lederer, J.R., and Swope, R.J., 2005. Provenance of LGM Glacial Till (sand fraction) across the Ross Embayment, Antarctica.  Quaternary Science Reviews, v.24, p.1499-1520.

*Student authors



Previous & Current Graduate Students and PostDocs:

  • Liana Agrios (M.S. in progress)
  • Christine Kassab (Ph.D. in progress)
  • Joseph Graly (PostDoc)
  • Charles Goodwin - Manager at ENVIRON International Corp.
  • Nicole Bader - Geologist at Ayers Associates
  • Bethany Welke - Microscopy analysis technician, Exxon
  • Andrea (Schilling) Hennessy - Science coordinator, Club Z! tutoring
  • Emerson Palmer - Geologist, Noble Energy
  • Kate Kramer - Lecturer, McHenry County College
  • Jennifer Nelson - Senior Lecturer, IUPUI
  • Jason Lederer - Research Specialist at Summit County Open Space and Trails program
Give Now