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From the desk of Dean Kate Miller
March 20, 2012 

Dear Colleagues:



Dean Miller

Welcome back from Spring Break. In the coming months, required changes to the core curriculum in response to new guidelines from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board will loom large for us. Currently, 63% of the semester credit hours that we teach come from enrollment in courses that are included in the core curriculum. Further, 25% of our 344 graduate students are supported as teaching assistants, most of whom teach labs for courses in the core. The recommendation to faculty senate will be for 9 hours of science in the core, without a requirement for a lab. It is critical to the health of the college that our faculty be actively engaged in redesigning our core courses for the new criteria so that we continue to attract a large number of students to our introductory offerings. Although a timetable is not yet set, in all likelihood the university review process will begin in late fall 2012 to early spring 2013.


Over the next two weeks, I will visit each department faculty meeting to discuss the University Quality Enhancement Plan and the role our College will play in implementing the plan. A QEP describes a course of action for enhancing educational quality and is a required component of our decennial application for reaffirmation of accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools' Commission on Colleges (SACS). Without accreditation, the university is ineligible to receive any federal funding. The SACS team will be visiting Texas A&M April 2-5. For now the things to remember about our QEP are "Aggies commit to learning for a lifetime" and "College of Geosciences commits to communicate."


The division of research has recently established a Principal Investigator/Faculty Advisory Committee (PIFAC) to represent the interests and concerns of the research community in the arena of sponsored research administration. The committee will provide direct input to the Texas A&M System chief research officer on matters affecting OSRS operations, including enhancements to customer service and the establishment of best practices. Dr. Niall Slowey in the Oceanography department represents our College on the committee. 

Have a great week, 





Kate Miller





 Texas A&M Announcements
For more information about university events, visit TAMUTimes.


 College Announcements

Parents' Weekend

Parents' Weekend is March 31. The College of Geosciences will host a breakfast and open house for parents and students to learn more about College and University measures to enhance undergraduate education and to meet with faculty and academic advisors. 


The breakfast is from 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. in the O&M Lobby. Please RSVP to Roxanna Russell.  


"This is a great opportunity for parents to hear about College and University measures to enhance undergraduate education," said Dr. Sarah Bednarz, associate dean for academic affairs, who is coordinating the event. 


New websites

The Gulf Integrated Spill Research Consortium recently launched its new website to the public. View the site here.  


The Texas Sea Grant website was recently redesigned. View the updated site here



Professional Activities

Texas Sea Grant recently hosted the 2012 Dolphin Challenge Regional Competition of the National Ocean Sciences Bowl at Texas A&M University at Galveston. Langham Creek High School's "A" Team won the competition and advanced to the national competition.

Dr. Niall Slowey
(OCNG) was recently named to the faculty advisory committee for the Texas A&M University Office of Sponsored Research Services (OSRS). The OSRS was established to governance structure to ensure the delivery of quality services to the research community, while maintaining a responsive and cost-effective administrative environment. The Principal Investigator/Faculty Advisory Committee was created to represent the interests and concerns of the research community. Slowey will represent the College of Geosciences.

The National Academy of Sciences' National Research Council has named Texas A&M oceanographer Dr. Robert Duce (OCNG and ATMO) as chair of the Ocean Studies Board. The Ocean Studies Board, part of the National Academy of Sciences, explores the science, policies, and infrastructure needed to understand, manage, and conserve coastal and marine environments and resources. The board exercises leadership within the ocean community, and undertakes studies at the request of federal agencies, Congress, or other sponsors, or on its own initiative. Duce will also chair the National Science Foundation's Committee of Visitors, which reviews the research programs in NSF's Division of Ocean Science. He was at the Ocean Sciences meeting in Salt Lake City to discuss these duties with officials from NSF, the National Academy and National Research Council. 




GERG scientists provide training for student from Qatar University
Scientists from the Geochemical and Environmental Research Group (GERG) provided training in January and February for Shamsa Abdullah Al-Khanjari, who is attending Qatar University. Shamsa received instruction in the procedures for the extraction, silica gel/alumina purification and instrumental analysis of sediment samples collected in Qatar for polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH). The training, as well as the analysis of additional samples and interpretation of the results, continues the ongoing collaboration between Dr. Terry Wade, interim director, and Dr. Yousra Soliman. Dr. Soliman, who serves as Shamsa's advisor at Qatar University, received her Ph.D. in Oceanography from Texas A&M University in 2007. Dr. Terry Wade and Dr. Gilbert Rowe, Texas A&M University at Galveston, served as committee chairs for Dr. Soliman's dissertation.

Dr. Terry Wade with Shamsa Abdullah Al-Khanjari



Dr. Jim Mori, Dr. Frederick M. Chester (G&G), Dr. Nobu Eguchi and Dr. Sean Toczko recently published: The Integrated Ocean Drilling Program Expedition 343 Scientific Prospectus, Japan Trench Fast Earthquake Drilling Project (JFAST), doi: 10.2204/iodp.sp.343.2012. View the prospectus here.

Dr. Kathryn Gillis, Dr. Jonathan E. Snow and Dr. Adam Klaus (IODP) recently published: The Integrated Ocean Drilling Program Expedition 345 Scientific Prospectus, Hess Deep Plutonic Crust: Exploring the plutonic crust at a fast-spreading ridge: new drilling at Hess Deep, doi: 10.2204/iodp.sp.345.2012. View the prospectus here.


(Right) JOIDES Resolution at sea.  






Dr. Matthew K. Howard (OCNG) attended the Gulf of Mexico Pilot Prediction Project Workshop (GOMEX-PPP) Feb. 17-18 and the TOS/ASLO/AGU Ocean Sciences 2012 Conference Feb. 20-24 in Salt Lake City, Utah.GOMEX-PPP is an effort to improve operational modeling in the Gulf of Mexico.Eight modeling teams submitted various hindcast/forecast runs from their models for side-by-side comparisons to each other and to observed data.  


In attendance were top Gulf of Mexico modelers and reviewers from academia, Navy, industry, and NOAA. The workshop marked the end of phase one of the project.A second, 12-month phase is being planned.Howard is the lead of Texas A&M's part of the model-data evaluation team. Howard presented a poster for this work on Feb. 23 titled "Gulf of Mexico Pilot Prediction Project (GOMEX-PPP): Model-Data Comparisons," co-authored by E. Zaron, C. Mooers, Y. Chao, B. Cornuelle, R. He, D-S Ko, L Oey A. Mehra and R. Patchen.  


On Feb. 22, Howard and Dr. Cyndy Chandler (WHOI) co-chaired a poster session titled "Data Systems that Support the US National Policy for the Stewardship of the Ocean, Coasts, and Great Lakes." Howard also presented "The Gulf of Mexico Coastal Ocean Observing System (GCOOS): A Data Stewardship Cooperative Supporting a Healthy Gulf." The poster was a showcase of the multitude of data, products, and services hosted by the GCOOS-RA websites and co-authored by A.E. Jochens, S. Kobara, F.C. Gayanilo, S.K. Baum and C. Simonello.    

GoMex poster
GoMex Pilot Prediction Project

Students in the College of Geosciences participated in Student Conference on National Affairs Feb. 23-25. The winning team included four Geosciences students, as well as eight other students from other Colleges at A&M and Universities across the nation. They won best policy proposal in the theme, "Reviving an Exhausted America." The winning team included the following Geosciences students: Stephanie Grotte (ENVP), Cody Hebert (ATMO), Sarah Logan (G&G), and Nancy Luong (ENVP).     





Dr. Michael Waters (GEOG) and his work to restore Camp Hearne was featured in a Feb. 24 article in the Houston Chronicle. Camp Hearne housed 50,000 German Prisoners of War during World War II.    


Dr. Mahlon "Chuck"  Kennicutt (OCNG) was interviewed on the Earth Sky 22 podcast on Feb. 12. Kennicutt commented on the drilling of Lake Vostok in Antarctica.   


Dr. Kennicutt was also recently quoted in the Los Angeles Times about the invasion of alien plant species brought into the Antarctic climate. The article was also picked up by The Boston Herald, Chicago Tribune and other media outlets around the country.


The American Meteorological Society is now featuring Texas A&M's Weather Whys in their News You Can Use newsletter. Weather Whys is a weekly news item about the weather, written by Texas A&M's Marketing and Communications office and the Office of the Texas State Climatologist.    


Dr. Richard Orville (ATMO) was recently featured in a TAMUTimes article about lightning rods. From his personal experience and from his research, Orville believes that lightning rods are useful tools for negating the positive power of a lightning bolt. See the article  here.  


Dr. John Nielsen-Gammon (ATMO), the State Climatologist, was recently profiled in the New York Times. He has garnered national attention as a drought expert. For more information, visit GeoNews.   


The Bryan-College Station Eagle recently printed a photo of local students viewing a scale model of the JOIDES resolution research ship, part of the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program, at the Brazos Valley Museum of Natural History's Spring Mini Camp. The research ship will be featured at the museum through April 28.   



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


March 21

11:30 a.m., Halbouty 104: "Mountain building, fault structure, and seismic hazard in the Tibetan Plateau and Southern California." Dr. Judith Hubbard, Harvard University.     


March 23

3:30 p.m., Halbouty 101: "Experience Development." Dr. Tony Bebbington, Clark University.


March 26

4 p.m., O&M 112: "Corking and coring: Geomicrobiology aboard IODP Expedition 336." Dr. Heath Mills, Texas A&M University.  


March 27

3:55 p.m., O&M 112: "Fast Processes in Climate Models, Their Parameterization and Evaluation." Dr. Yangang Liu, Brookhaven National Laboratory, Atmospheric Sciences Division.     


March 30

3:30 p.m., CSA 303: "DIY bio phenomenon." Dr. Christopher Kelty, Center for Society and Genetics, University of California, Los Angeles.   

The next issue is April 9. Please submit items of general interest to the College to Karen Riedel no later than Wednesday, April 4.   
 Featured Article
Message by Kate Miller
Parent's Weekend 
Duce named chair to Ocean Studies Board


 and Programs