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From the desk of Dean Kate Miller
Jan. 20, 2012 

Dear Colleagues,

Welcome to the spring 2012 semester! I feel refreshed and recharged from the winter break, and I hope all of you do as well.


Dean's review

I want to thank all of you who participated in the midterm review of my performance as dean. The midterm review is an important aspect of shared governance at Texas A&M, and I was pleased to see a high level of participation in the review. For those of you who took the survey, I want you to know that I very much appreciate your constructive comments. At a recent retreat of the College Executive Committee, we integrated your comments into a focused discussion on how to improve two-way communication on the College vision and the activities we need to undertake to forward that vision.


College Annual Meeting

As a starting point to increasing communication throughout the college, I invite all of you to a College meeting on January 26 at 3:30 pm in O&M room 112. I will present a short overview of the College as it is today and a framework for future directions in the context of the university and the geosciences as a whole. I will speak for about half an hour, and then I want to hear from you. This is an opportunity for you to share your ideas of where you think we should be headed. We will have refreshments afterwards.  


SACS accreditation

Significant university activity this spring will center on the culmination of our accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS). The SACS evaluation team will come to campus in early April. As part of the process, the university has developed a Quality Enhancement Plan with the theme Aggies Commit to Learning for a Lifetime. It asks our students to make a commitment to purposefully engage in high impact learning experiences and thoughtfully reflect on their learning experiences in order to develop the habits and skills for integrative learning and lifelong learning. It calls for our institution to create a campus culture with opportunities and support for student engagement and reflection.


I recommend that you take the opportunity to view and comment on the draft plan. Our representatives to the QEP planning committee, Drs. Andrew Klein and Julie Newman, can also receive your input. Implementation of the QEP will affect our work for many years into the future.


The initial College response to QEP, Commit to Communicate, is embedded in our plans for new high impact learning experiences and an upcoming pilot to provide writing consultants to selected W classes. These new programs are supported by new reallocation funds from the provost office and were planned in conjunction with members of the College Undergraduate and Graduate Instruction and Curriculum Committees. Many thanks to them, and the faculty members who put forward proposals to support innovative new programs for our students.


Congratulations to Texas Sea Grant on the return to print of its quarterly publication Texas Shores. The first issue contains an engaging retrospective on people and accomplishments in honor of Sea Grant's 40th year of service to Texans.  


Have a great semester!


Kate Miller
Dean, College of Geosciences 
Texas A&M Announcements
For more information about university events visit TamuTimes.


 College Announcements


The American Geophysical Union (AGU) has elected ATMO professors Dr. Renyi Zhang and Dr. Thomas Wilheit as Fellows. 
According to AGU, to be elected a Fellow is a special tribute for those who have made exceptional scientific contributions. Nominated Fellows must have attained acknowledged eminence in the Earth and space sciences. Primary criteria for evaluation in scientific eminence are major breakthrough or discovery and paradigm shift. This designation is conferred upon not more than 0.1% of all AGU members in any given year. New Fellows are chosen by a Committee of Fellows.
More information and a formal announcement are forthcoming.


Annual College Meeting

Dean Address
Dean Kate Miller
3:30 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 26
Room 112 (auditorium) O&M


 Professional Activities

Dr. Oliver Frauenfeld (GEOG) was a co-author in Environmental Research Letters: Frauenfeld, O. W. and T. Zhang, 2011: An observational 71-year history of seasonally frozen ground changes in the Eurasian high latitudes. Environ. Res. Lett., 6, 044024, doi:10.1088/1748-9326/6/4/044024.


Dr. Heath Mills (OCNG), Dr. Adam Klaus (OCNG) and the rest of the IODP Expedition 336 scientists published, "The Integrated Ocean Program (IODP) Expedition 336 Preliminary Report, Mid-Atlantic Ridge microbiology: Initiation of long-term coupled microbiological, geochemical, and hydrological experimentation within the seafloor at North Pond, western flank of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge." More information about the expedition can be found here.


Dr. Heath Mills (OCNG) has a paper accepted, Characterization of microbial populations shifts during sample storage, Frontiers in Extreme Microbiology: Deep Subsurface Microbiology," Mills, H.J., B.K. Reese, and C. St. Peter 


AGU 2011
The College was well-represented at the AGU conference, Dec. 5-9, in San Francisco with representatives from all the departments participating in multiple sessions. 


Former Geosciences dean, Dr. Robert Duce, participated in the AGU Awards Ceremony as a co-citationist for Dr. Jarvis Moyers, who was awarded the Edward A. Flinn III Award for "unselfish cooperation in research through facilitating, coordinating, and implementing activities." Dr. Duce reports that "Dr. Moyers, who passed away last summer, was my first graduate student in the 1960s at the University of Hawaii and was director of the Division of Atmospheric and Geospace Sciences at the National Science Foundation until shortly before his death."   


Dr. Heath Mills (OCNG) attended the U.S. Science Advisory Committee (USSAC) and IODP Town Hall meetings at AGU. Dr. Mills is one of 12 members of the national advisory committee for U.S. participation in the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program and wider issues in scientific ocean drilling.


POSTER SESSIONS  Dr. Robert Duce (ATMO and OCNG): "A New NRC Report on Scientific Ocean Drilling: Accomplishments and Challenges," Duce, R.A., Goldstein, A., Glickson, D., Banerjee, S.K., Curry, W.B., Friberg, M., Huber, J.A., Jackson, M.E., Millheim, K., Mukasa, S.B., Naish, T., Olsen, P.E., Summa, L.L., Trehu, A.M.


Dr. Oliver Frauenfeld (GEOG): "Observe Station-based 1956-2000 Soil Flux Anomalies at 423 Sites Across the Eurasian High Latitudes," O.W. Frauenfeld and T. Zhang.


Dr. Chris Houser (GEOG), Dr. Sarah Brooks (ATMO), Dr. Oliver Frauenfeld (GEOG), Ph.D. student Kelly Lemons (GEOG), Dr. Steve Quiring (GEOG), Dr. Anita Rapp (ATMO), Dr. Brendan Roark (GEOG), Dr. Gunnar Schade (ATMO) and Dr. Courtney Schumacher (ATMO), with Drs. Anthony Cahill and Gretchen Miller of the Civil Engineering Department, Dr. Kevin McInnes of the Department of Soil and Crop Sciences, and Drs. Georgianne Moore, Mark Tjoleker and Robert Washington-Allen of the Department of Ecosystem Science and Management:"Eco-Hydrology of a Tropical Montane Cloud Forest: A New REU Site Hosted by Texas A&M University." 


Dr. Kate Miller (Dean), Dr. Chris Houser (GEOG), and Dr. Sonia Garcia, (director of recruitment):  "A New Pre-college Program to Attract Underrepresented Minorities and First Generation Students to the Geosciences." 


Dr. Matthew Howard (OCNG): "The Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative: Managing a Multidisciplinary Data Explosion," M.K. Howard, J.C. Gibeaut and D. Reed.


Dr. Heath Mills (OCNG) and graduate students Brandi Reese (OCNG) and Alicia Shepard (OCNG)
  • "Exploring how to characterize the subsurface biosphere by drilling beneath the Great Barrier Reef" by H.J. Mills, B.K. Reese, C. St. Peter, A. Shepard and IODP Expedition 325 Scientists
  • "Biogeopgraphy of metabolically active microbial populations within the subseafloor biosphere" by B.K. Reese, A. Shepard, C. St. Peter and H.J. Mills
Dr. John Nielsen-Gammon (ATMO)
  • "Inclusion of Climate Dynamics in the American Meteorological Society's Bachelor's Degree Statement." 
  • "AASC Recommendations for the Education of an Applied Climatologist," J.W. Nielsen-Gammon, D. Stooksbury, A. Akyuz, L. Dupigny-Giroux, K.G. Hubbard and M. M. Timofeyeva.
Dr. William Sager (OCNG)
  • "Analysis of marine multi-channel seismic data using 2D continuous wavelet transform,"  A.K. Vuong, J. Zhang, R.L. Gibson and W.W. Sager 
  • "Magnetic properties and paleointensity determinations on basalts from Shatsky Rise,"  C. Carvallo, P. Camps, M. Ooga, W.W. Sager and M. Tominaga
  • "Crustal structure of Shatsky Rise from joint refraction and reflection seismic tomography," J. Krenaga and W.W. Sager
  • "Magma variety and geochemical stratigraphy of Shatsky Rise," T. Sano, K. Shimizu, A. Ishikawa, R. Senda, C. Qing, J. I. Kimura, M. Widdowson and W.W. Sager

Dr. Inci Guneralp (GEOG): "River meandering in heterogeneous floodplains," Inci Guneralp (presenter), Bruce L. Rhoads 


Dr. Benchun Duan (G&G): 
  • "Using dynamic rupture models to explore physical controls on the 2011 Mw 9.0 Tohoku-Oki earthquake rupture." 
  • Co-presented with graduate student Jingqian Kang (G&G), "Dependence of residual displacements on the width and depth of compliant fault zones: a 3D study." 
Dr. William Sager (OCNG): "The Shatsky Rise Supervolcano and the Formation of Oceanic Plateaus," by W.W. Sager, T. Sano, J. Korenaga and Expedition 324 Scientists.

Dr. Zhankun Wang (OCNG) presenting and co-authors, Dr. Steve DiMarco (OCNG), Marion Stoessel (OCNG) and Dr. Xioqian Zhang (OCNG): "Oscillation Responses to an Extreme Weather Event from a Deep Moored Observing System," Z. Wang, S.F. DiMarco, M. Stoessel and S. Ingle.



Dr. Heath Mills (OCNG) co-chaired "Novel Microbial Process in the Deep Biosphere." 


Dr. William Sager (OCNG) chaired "Structure, Origin and HIstory of Oceanic Plateaus" oral and poster sessions.



Dr. John Nielsen-Gammon (ATMO) blogged about AGU for his column Climate Abyss in the Houston Chronicle (entries from Dec. 5 to Dec. 9).

Lisa Reichert, Eddie Webb, and Sylvia Mendez-Pitts received pins in recognition of their service to Texas A&M
GERG employees receive service pins.

Lisa Reichert, Eddie Webb and Sylvia Mendez-Pitts (GERG) were recently honored for their service to Texas A&M University. Eddie received a pin for his 25 years of service, and Lisa and Sylvia both received 20-year pins.

Dr. Oliver Frauenfeld 
(GEOG) was elected president of the U.S. Permafrost Association.
Texas A&M Marketing and Communications division selected the College of Geosciences as its first major ad buy in the Texas Tribune. The ad, "Protecting the Texas Coastline," leads the reader to an article in TAMUTimes, which features a video interview with Dr. Steve DiMarco (OCNG) and interviews with Dr. Norman Guinasso (GERG) and Bill Walpert (GERG).
Dr. Oliver Frauenfeld (GEOG) was featured for his research on permafrost in an article on the website Environmental Research Web.


A news release written by Texas Sea Grant's Jim Hiney about giant shrimp and tiger fish invading the Gulf of Mexico appeared in major news outlets throughout the world, including all major newspapers in Texas, the Washington Post and CNN News


AAG SmartBrief reported on Dr. Kathleen O'Reilly (GEOG) receiving a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to study sanitation practices in rural India.

Calendar items are also posted on the College of Geosciences Facebook page. 


Jan. 26
College Annual Meeting, 3:30 p.m., 112 O&M Building


Jan. 27
3:30 p.m., O&M 1209, ATMO Special Seminar, The Effect of Dust Aerosol on Semi-arid Climate, Jianping Huang, Lanzhou University


Jan. 30

4 p.m., O&M 112, OCNG, Part 1: Teaching an online course and Part 2: Teaching field-based lab courses in Italy, Mary Jo Richardson, OCGN and G&G


Jan. 31
3:55 p.m., O&M 112, ATMO, Atmospheric Aerosols and Climate: Optical Properties, Chemical Composition & Open Challenges, Jon Thompson, Texas Tech  


The next issue is Feb. 3. Please submit items of general interest to the College to Karen Riedel no later than Wednesday, Feb. 1.   
 Featured Article
College Annual Meeting
3:30 p.m., Jan. 26
112 O&M


 and Programs