About Rachel Glade's Work
Earth’s surface is constantly changing as water, wind and gravity sculpt landscapes via the transport of sediment in rivers and on hillslopes. These natural systems can exhibit dynamics and pattern formation similar to those found in soft materials such as toothpaste, biological tissue, and food products. My research focuses on an emerging frontier at the intersection between Geoscience and Soft Matter Physics, or “the study of all things squishy.” Using a combination of physical experiments, numerical modeling, and fieldwork, I strive to understand how properties of sediment-fluid mixtures on Earth’s surface influence landscape change by carefully drawing analogies with soft matter systems. For example, my recent work shows that patterns developed in frozen arctic soils and on Mars are quantitatively similar to paint or cake icing drips, with implications for our ability to predict landscape response to climate change and our understanding of soft materials in general.