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From the desk of Dean Kate Miller
August 20, 2012 

Dean Miller


Dear Colleagues,


Welcome to the fall semester. The signs that a new academic year is beginning are all around us. If you happened to have made a run into the O&M building on Sunday, then you know that "move--in" was in full force. With Bizzell Drive, and even lots 15 and 55 awash in cars and heavily laden parents and students moving belongings into the southside dorms. Thanks to the cool front that moved through Saturday night--temperatures were cooler than normal for this event, for once.


As a College, we will kick off the semester with our annual ice cream social on at 4 p.m., Sunday, Aug. 26. Please join us in welcoming our record crop of 152 freshmen and their parents over ice cream and toppings. This event follows freshman convocation at Reed Arena, which starts at 2:30 p.m.   


In addition, we will enroll about 52 undergraduate transfer students, another record, and four master's and 30 doctoral candidates. New faculty members are Dan Goldberg and Michael Bishop in the Department of Geography. New staff includes Suzanne Rosser, advisor in Geology and Geophysics. Welcome all.


The University Academic Convocation is from 4-6 p.m., Sept 6, in Rudder Exhibit Hall. This is a completely redesigned and refocused convocation--no regalia, no march, no formality. The convocation also honors new and newly tenured faculty. Heavy hors d'oeuvres and a range of beverages will be served. The intent is to celebrate our accomplishments and renew our shared common purpose as faculty members. Faculty, your invitation is available here. I strongly encourage you to attend.


Congratulations to Mike Tice, assistant professor in Geology and Geophysics who is this year's Montague Scholar from the College. More about Mike's achievement is in the Awards section below.


The search for a new development director continues. The search is led by Larry Zuber, director of development in the College of Architecture. We have already conducted three preliminary interviews and plan three more in the next couple weeks.  


As you will see, this is a particularly long edition of the BWB, reflecting our incredible productivity over the summer.  


Have a great week,


Kate C. Miller






College Announcements

Sea Grant information is now in Spanish

Sea Grant has launched the Spanish version of its website. "Our goal is to reach out to the Hispanic-speaking population that Sea Grant serves," said Dr. Pam Plotkin, director. 


University Staff Council  

The next USC meeting is from 1:30-3:30 p.m., Tuesday, Aug. 21, 101A General Services Complex. Ron Steedley of Transportation Services will speak on the new DIRC (Dangerous - Irresponsible - Reckless - Careless) Program.  


The Texas A&M University Staff Council meets on the third Tuesday of each month. All staff members are encouraged to attend. Schedule information can be found on the USC website.

Professional Activities


Mike Tice Dr. Mike Tice
(G&G) has been selected as the Center for Teaching Excellence's Montague Scholar 2012-13.
The Montague-CTE Scholar award is given annually to a tenure-track faculty member from each College based on their early ability and interest in teaching. Awardees receive a $6,500 grant to encourage further development of undergraduate teaching excellence.


In selecting Tice as this year's honoree, Dr. Rick Giardino, department head, wrote that Tice is "a consummate scholar. Mike Tice combines the best of the research world with the best of the teaching world to provide outstanding experiences for the students in his courses." In particular, Giardino notes that Tice has provided numerous research experiences for undergraduates through mentoring, innovative curriculum development in Geology 101, and inclusion in his research group.




The Mechanisms Controlling Hypoxia project cruise MS6 (6th survey cruise) on the R/V Manta returns to port Aug. 21. Mobilization was in Galveston Aug. 14, with departure Aug. 15. The crew surveyed the Louisiana-Texas shelf to monitor and measure the coastal hypoxia.  

Professors and students from Texas A&M University are Drs. Steven DiMarco, Piers Chapman, and Matt Howard (OCNG), and graduate students Ruth Mullins-Perry, Laura Harrad, Emma Cochran, and Allyson Burgess Lucchese, who is from Texas A&M Galveston. Sailing from GERG are Andrew Dancer and Eddie Webb, electronics technicians.


Tyler Miffen and Alex Miffin, who have a TV show in Canada, The Water Brothers, are producing an episode about hypoxia and filmed a portion of the expedition.

Colonias program 

Dr. Wendy Jepson (GEOG) returned from four weeks of field work in the Lower Rio Grande Valley where she collaborated with community health workers (promotoras) from the Texas A&M Colonias Program (Architecture) on an NSF-funded household water security survey in the region's colonias, low-income rural and peri-urban subdivisions. The survey measured and assessed how adequate, reliable, and affordable water is for colonias households. Working with Dr. Genny Carrillo of the Texas A&M Health Sciences Center in McAllen, Jepson is translating her research results into educational materials on water and drinking water safety for the community health workers training program offered by the Colonias Program.  


Coral cruise

Dr. Brendan Roark (GEOG) is on the cruise, Deepwater Canyons and Deep-Sea Corals on board NOAA RV Nancy Foster. According to the NOAA website, an international team of scientists are studying the biology, geology and oceanography of a series of canyons off the middle Atlantic coast off Maryland and Virginia. 


The project comprises scientists from the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), Continental Shelf Associates (the BOEM contractor), Texas A&M University, NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research (provider of ship time and equipment), and the U.S. Geological Survey (in support of BOEM's energy-development responsibilities).  



Dr. Eric Riggs, assistant dean and research associate professor (G&G), along with colleagues at the University of Northern Colorado, has been awarded funding from the National Science Foundation to study recruitment and retention of undergraduate women in the geosciences. The team has been funded by the Gender in Science and Engineering program at NSF for a three year study examining individual and environmental factors that influence the decisions of female students to join majors in the geosciences and stay through graduation. The study will take place at six research universities, including Texas A&M, and will initially focus on students in the geology major specifically. The universities were selected for their large overall numbers of graduates in this field, comparable status as public research universities, similarities in overall geoscience degree offerings, and their specific records of graduating undergraduate women in the geosciences. The study starts with a broad quantitative study in introductory and advanced geology courses this fall, and then will add a complimentary qualitative study involving interviews and focus groups as the study progresses. The goal is to uncover and understand individual factors as well as programmatic and other environmental factors that interact and contribute to the successful recruitment and retention of women in the geosciences. Ultimately the team aims to share these results widely with the broader community in support of efforts to enhance diversity in the geosciences nationwide. 


Riggs has also received funding from the NSF Geoscience Education Program with colleagues from the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Texas at El Paso. This project expands previous work by this team to develop the DIG TEXAS (Diversity and Innovation for Geosciences in Texas) alliance using cybertechnology to support activities designed to strengthen earth science education in Texas, share educational resources, and promote collaboration among members. DIG TEXAS is a newly created alliance of earth scientists and educators at higher education institutions, science and geography teachers, and other stakeholders across the state with a shared vision to elevate the stature of the geosciences in Texas and attract individuals from groups underrepresented in STEM fields to pursue geosciences as a career. The project specifically seeks funding to support activities related to two DIG TEXAS goals: (1) strengthen earth science education in Texas by ensuring that the state's Earth and Space Science capstone course is taught at the appropriate level by teachers who are aided by online, well-defined and standards-aligned course roadmaps, including recommended high quality, research-based learning activities and teacher resources, and (2) expand the DIG TEXAS website to make earth science teaching resources tailored for use in Texas available online to teachers throughout Texas.



Dr. Alex Orsi (OCNG) was a co-convener of a session on "Natural and Anthropogenic Forcing on the Antarctic and Southern Ocean Climate System" at the XXXII Scientific Committee on Scientific Research (SCAR) biannual Open Science Conference, held in Portland, Ore., in July. He also gave a talk on "Decadal Variability in the Southern Pacific."



Dr. Mahlon Kennicutt II (OCNG) completed his four-year term as president of SCAR at the conclusion of the meetings in Portland in July. His final presidential note summarizes the highlights of the conference and outlines future goals.   


Dr. Alex Orsi (OCNG) has been appointed to the editorial board of the journal Ocean Dynamics. He was also appointed to membership on the CLIVAR/CliC/SCAR Southern Ocean Panel.


Dr. Ping Chang (OCNG and ATMO) and his former graduate student Dr. Karthik Balaguru, now at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, published "Ocean barrier layers' effect on tropical cyclone intensification," in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 10:1073/pnas.1201364109) Other contributors from Geosciences are Dr. R. Saravanan (ATMO), Zhao Xu (OCNG) and Dr. Jen-Shan Hsieh (ATMO).


Drs. Wilf Gardner and Mary Jo Richardson have published an article in the Journal of Oceanography: Son, Y.B., W.D. Gardner, M.J. Richardson, J. Ishizaka, J.H. Ryu, Y.H. Ahn, H.-C. Kim, S.H. Kim, S.H. Lee, 2012. Tracing offshore low-salinity plumes in the northeastern Gulf of Mexico during the summer season by use of multispectral remote-sensing data. 

J. Oceanography (doi: 10.1007/s10872-012-0131-y). 


Dr. Wendy Jepson, Dr. Christian Brannstrom, and former graduate student Nicole Persons (GEOG) published results from their wind energy project in an article, " 'We don't take the pledge': Environmentality and environmental skepticism in the epicenter of U.S. wind energy development," Geoforum (43): 851-863.Their previous article on wind energy published in the Annals of the Association of American Geographers (2011) is one of the top five "most read" articles this year.   


Dr. Adam Klaus (IODP) is a co-author of the paper, "Persistent near

tropical warmth on the Antarctic continent during the early Eocene epoch,"

in the Aug. 2 (online date) of the journal Nature (v. 488, n7409, 73-77). The paper is based on results from the 2010 IODP Expedition 318, which explored the glacial history off Wilkes Land in eastern Antarctica. Cores recovered date back to the early Eocene and contain fossilized evidence of palm and other tropical trees, evidence of an intense warming period.  


Dr. Alex Orsi (OCNG) is a guest editor of Oceanography (September 2012, Vol. 25, no. 3) special issue on Antarctic Oceanography in a Changing World. In addition to being co-author for the introductory notes, he also co-authored two of the edition's articles: "The Ross Sea in a Sea of Change" and "Sixty-four Days of Hydrography and Storms: RVIB Nathaniel B. Palmer's 2011 S04P Cruise."


Dr. Matthew Schmidt (OCNG), Dr. Ping Chang (OCNG and ATMO), Dr. Link Ji (ATMO) and oceanography graduate students Jennifer Hertzberg and Teddy Them II, along with Bette L. Otto-Bliesnerc, have published an article, "Impact of abrupt deglacial climate change on tropical Atlantic subsurface temperatures," in the Aug. 20 (online date) early edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (doi:10.1073/pnas.1207806109).



Calendar items are also posted on the College of Geosciences' 

Facebook page.


Sunday, Aug. 26

2:30 p.m. Freshman Convocation, Reed Arena


Sunday, Aug. 26

4 p.m., College of Geosciences Welcome Reception, Class of 2016, O&M Lobby

The next issue is Sept. 3. Please submit items of general interest to the College to Karen Riedel by Thursday, Aug. 30.
Featured Articles
Geosciences welcomes Class of 2016

Mike Tice, Montague Scholar

Research cruises, journal papers and more

and Programs