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From the desk of Dean Kate Miller
April 9, 2012 


Dear Colleagues,

This week, Jack Baldauf updates the College on recent research initiatives, including a successful start to future alliances with two Brazilian universities, and ongoing projects involving GERG, Sea Grant and cross-university collaborations.

Kate Miller 



Recent research highlights include both international and domestic activities. The Brazil-Texas A&M University Science and Education Internationalization conference and workshop was held in Porto de Galinhas, Brazil, March 26-29. These meetings brought 23 colleagues and students from the colleges of Geosciences and Agriculture and Life Sciences together with their counterparts from the Universidade Federal De Pernambuco and the University Sao Paulo to discuss potential research and academic collaborations. A total of 91 presentations (33 oral and 58 posters) composed the scientific program during the day-and-a-half conference. Discussions highlighted significant areas of common interest on which to build future collaborations. Most notable themes were ocean modeling, climate variability, biogeochemical cycling, reef communities and reef conservation, fisheries, sedimentary processes, coastal geomorphology, pollution, resource exploration, technology, biodiversity, and hydrology. A workshop following the conference focused on building collaborations based on the strengths of each institution. Thirteen concept papers were grouped into four themes: coastal and near-shore processes, climate and ocean, ecosystems, and academics.


Conference participants from Texas A&M and two universities in Brazil meet to identify common research and educational exchange opportunities. 


Other international efforts include developing a Texas A&M and Brazil research agreement similar to that with CONACYT in Mexico and finalizing the MOA renewal with Ecuador for research and academic collaboration.


Numerous domestic activities continue. Several significant efforts include: (1) finalizing the GERG strategy with members of the Office for Vice President of Research to determine the way forward, (2) strengthening collaborations with Texas A&M Galveston and Texas A&M Corpus Christi by establishing quarterly conference calls and an annual meeting among administrators, (3) completing the first phase in efforts to work with industry to support high-power computational capacity within the college, (4) relocating Sea Grant to campus, (5) ensuring college compliance with commencement of a college-wide risk assessment and implementation of center reviews, (6) exploring possible intellectual property opportunities within college divisions (specifically G&G and GERG), and (7) exploring collaborations with Petroleum Engineering, Coastal Engineering, and Offshore Engineering.




Jack Baldauf

Executive Associate Dean and Associate Dean for Research  




 College Announcements


Dr. Renyi Zhang

Dr. Renyi Zhang
 (ATMO) received the Distinguished Achievement Award for Research from Texas A&M and the Association of Former Students. Six university-wide awards were given in the research category. The 2012 Distinguished Achievement Awards will be formally presented April 25 during ceremonies in Rudder Theater. In recognition of their achievements, each recipient will receive a $4,000 cash gift, an engraved watch and a commemorative plaque. More details about Dr. Zhang's accomplishments are here. 


Dr. Michael Waters (ANTH), who has a joint appointment with Geography, also received one of the research awards. 



Student researchers are the headliners at this year's Berg-Hughes Center Research Conference, April 12, at Pebble Creek Country Club. The conference, Graduate Student Research Accomplishments in Sedimentary and Petroleum Systems in Recognition of Dr. William Bryant, will feature the research of 23 students grouped under six themes. 


The conference is a dialogue between the academic community and industry, explains Dr. Ernest Mancini, director of the Berg-Hughes Center. "We will learn about the major research programs in sedimentary and petroleum systems from the faculty and graduate students and, in turn, hear from petroleum industry about opportunities and challenges in these same systems."  


The conference also honors Dr. William Bryant (OCNG) for his outstanding teaching, research and service record of many years at Texas A&M University and for his significant contributions to furthering the understanding of the marine geology and geophysics of the Gulf of Mexico.  



Debz DeFreitas (GERG), Geosciences representative to the University Staff Council (USC), notes that terms for 14 USC members, including her position, end Aug. 31. Details for those interested in running for the position will be provided at a later date. 


The USC represents the interests of and the issues impacting both classified and non-classified staff employees at Texas A&M. The council meets on the third Tuesday of each month, and all staff are welcome to attend. Details for upcoming meetings can be found here. 


For the April meeting, Les Williams, associate director for energy and utilities management, will present the Energy Action Plan 2015, 1:30 p.m., April 17, in 101 GSC.


Chancellor Sharp was the featured speaker at the USC Spring Forum, March 21. Chancellor Sharp addressed the recent RFPs issued outsourcing some university services. He also shared his vision of the role that staff play in the success of the Texas A&M University System. The presentation is available on MediaMatrix.


Texas A&M and the Association of Former Students offer staff scholarships to qualified individuals. Applications will be accepted until May 31 and are available here.


The Texas Sea Grant College Program is asking Texans to help it chart its course in the areas of coastal and marine research, outreach and education by participating in an online survey. As a "thank you," five people who complete the survey will be chosen at random to win $100 gift cards. The program that bills itself as "Science at Work for Texans" is currently developing its strategic plan for 2014-17. The survey takes just a few minutes to complete and gauges participants' interest in issues concerning coastal community growth and development, jobs and the economy, coastal and marine education, and coastal health, safety and beauty. Individuals interested in voicing their opinions can find a link to the survey on Texas Sea Grant's homepage. All responses are anonymous.


Professional Activities

Dr. Will Sager with 2011 graduates Joe Hill and Kimbra Quezerge and graduate students Maggie Pueringer and Justin Nitz
Dr. Will Sager
(OCNG) and Geology and Geophysics graduate and recently graduated students returned March 29 from a cruise on R/V Melville, a UNOLS ship from Scripps Institution of Oceanography. They spent 49 days at sea investigating the Walvis Ridge Seamounts that begin on the African continental shelf and extend to the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. The overarching goal was to test a "hotspot" hypothesis, which proposes that Walvis Ridge Seamounts formed like the Hawaiian islands. "In particular," Sager said, "we are looking to see if there is a linear progression in age as there is with Hawaii. We surveyed and dredged 62 seamounts during the cruise." The cruise began and ended in Cape Town, South Africa.
Sager and graduate student Justin Nitz (G&G) will look at the magnetic anomalies of the surrounding seafloor to identify where the Mid-Atlantic Ridge was located when each seamount was formed. Sager worked with two other senior PIs, Anthony Koppers, Oregon State University, and Cornelia Class, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. 
Dr. Jose Sericano (GERG) published"Swallows as Indicators of EnvironmentalPollution of the Rio Grande/Rio Bravo Basin: Are Persistent Organic Pollutants a Concern?" Mora, M.A., J.L. Sericano, C. Baxter, Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology, 2012,62: 512-518.

Dr. Terry Wade (GERG) and Stephen Sweet (GERG) were authors for the article "Spatial distribution and temporal trends of persistent organochlorine pollutants in sediments from Lake Maryut, Alexandria, Egypt," Barakat, A.O., A. Mostafa, T.L. Wade, S.T. Sweet, N.B. El Sayed, Marine Pollution Bulletin, 2012, 64 (2): 395-404.


Cedric John, former staff scientist with IODP, is bringing 54 graduate students from Imperial College London to teach a lab on carbonates at the Gulf Coast Repository, April 9. 

Dr. Tom Yancey (G&G) received an honorable mention from the 2010 Journal of Paleontology Best Paper Award for the article "The Middle Eocene Belosaepia ungula (Cephalopoda: Coleoida) from Texas: structure, ontogeny and function," by Yancey, Garvie and Wicksten.

Geosciences graduate students score prestigious awards
William Flatley
and Kathryn Schreiner have been selected for 
a 2012 U.S. Senator Phil Gramm Doctoral Fellowship. 


Flatley is a doctoral student in geography, advised by Dr. Charles Lafon. His research seeks to understand spatial and temporal patterns of fire disturbance in southern Appalachian forests and fire suppression effects on community composition and diversity.


Schreiner is a doctoral student in oceanography, who is completing her Ph.D. work with Dr. Tom Bianchi. Schreiner's research focuses on chemical oceanography.

This prestigious University-level fellowship recognizes well-rounded Ph.D. students. It also carries a $5000 cash award.  

The Association of Former Students honors graduate students in three categories: doctoral research, master's research and teaching

Dr. Chen Xu (OCNG) received the award for doctoral research. Gemma Barrett (GEOG) received the award for master's research, and Kelly K. Lemmons (GEOL) received the award for teaching. 
Heather Lee (GEOG) received the CONACYT-TAMU Exchange Program for Visiting Student Researchers Award. The program supports graduate students for five months of research in Mexico. The award includes a $10,000 fellowship, a $1000 travel scholarship, medical insurance, and tuition and fees for out-of-residence study. Heather will be working on her doctoral dissertation project that examines groundwater governance in Guanajuato, Mexico. Her in-country collaboration will be with Dr. Flavia Echanove of the Institute of Geography at UNAM (Mexico City). She is a student of Dr. Wendy Jepson (GEOG).   
An article featuring John Nielsen-Gammon (ATMO) was recently reprinted extensively across the country and world. The article, "Why No Winter In 2012? Blame The Jet Stream, Says Texas A&M Weather Expert," was featured in the Boston Globe, Anchorage Daily News, Cincinnati Enquirer, Columbus Dispatch, Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Kansas City Star, Lexington Herald-Leader, Miami Herald and various other business journals, educational news sources and television stations.

Aggie Don Walsh was recently featured in an article about movie director James Cameron becoming the third person to descend to the Marianas Trench, lowest point of the ocean. Walsh, who served as Cameron's adviser, made his own trip to the bottom of the ocean in 1960 and earned two degrees from Texas A&M. See the article here.


April 9

4 p.m., room 112 O&M

NSF's Ocean Observatories Initiative: Long-term research infrastructure for the oceanographic community, Dr. Edward Dever, Oregon State University


April 10 

3:55 p.m., room 112, O&M

Tropical cyclones and climate: Insight from paleoclimate simulations, Dr. Robert Korty, Texas A&M


April 12

8 a.m. (all day), Pebble Creek Country Club

Berg-Hughes Third Annual Conference


April 16

4 p.m., room 112, O&M

Windows into the deep: Advances in deep-sea coral proxy development, Dr. Brendan Roark, Texas A&M


April 24

3:55 p.m., room 112, O&M

Observational Insights into Atmospheric Chemistry: NO x Trends and the Role of Organic Nitrates

Ronald Cohen, University of California, Berkeley   

The next issue is April 23. Please submit items of general interest to the College to Karen Riedel no later than Wednesday, April 18.   
 Featured Articles
Research update
Berg-Hughes Conference
Renyi Zhang AFS Award


 and Programs