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From the desk of Dean Kate Miller
October 8, 2012 

Dear Colleagues, 
Before I turn this issue's message over to Assistant Dean Eric Riggs, I am pleased to announced that Jack Falks has been named the new Director of Development. He begins Monday, Oct. 15. More information will be forthcoming.

Have a great week,

Kate C. Miller

Greetings Geosciences Colleagues,
Dr. Eric Riggs

At all levels across the university, Texas A&M is increasingly being driven by accountability and assessment data in decision making. Activities and progress related to diversity and student and faculty recruitment are no exception. In recent weeks we have completed data-gathering efforts in the Dean's office to understand quantitatively where we stand relative to our peers on undergraduate and graduate enrollment trends and faculty and staff diversity. We have also--with your help--taken a first cut at documenting aspects of our current workplace climate with respect to collegiality, freedom to express ideas and raise difficult issues, diversity, rank, gender, and job function. All of this serves as only a starting point, and significant additional analysis is required, but we do now have a set of valuable benchmarks against which we can judge the effectiveness of our ongoing efforts.

We asked for comparison data from the University of Texas, Jackson School of Geosciences; Penn State University, College of Earth and Mineral Sciences; Arizona State University, School of Earth and Space Exploration; and Oregon State University, College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences. None of these comparisons is perfect nor are the data sets complete, but we believe that structurally these are comparable equivalents by size, stature, and range of disciplines. The detailed numerical data we gathered are presented on a two-page PDF we have prepared for general distribution, available online. Below we present the main highlights of this comparative analysis.

Undergraduate students
The most complete data we have make a comparison possible between our Geosciences, UT Jackson School and Penn State EMS. As major competing institutions for undergraduates and graduate students in our fields, these comparisons are particularly useful. We find Texas A&M and UT to be virtually identical in terms of gender balance in the geosciences, at 37.7% and 39.3% women enrolled, respectively. Recent undergraduate degree completions at Texas A&M Geosciences show 41% female graduates. The national average for geoscience degrees granted runs at approximately 40%, so Texas A&M and UT Austin are effectively at the national norm.

Comparing minority enrollments, particularly under-represented minorities, Texas A&M Geosciences compares very favorably with national statistics and continues to improve, and also has caught up and will probably soon pass UT Austin in specifically attracting Hispanic students. Our current enrollment stands at 15.5% Hispanic, 2.6% Black, and 0.3 % American Indian (18% under-represented students overall), and our freshman enrollees for fall 2012 show a sharp increase in diversity, with 28% under-represented minority (URM) students enrolled. National averages (and Penn State's figures) are generally around 4% for Hispanic, 1.5% Black, and 0.7% American Indian, so we compare very well nationally, but clearly there is room for improvement to reach parity with our surrounding region and state (22% Hispanic locally, 38% statewide; ~13% Black and ~1% American Indian both locally and statewide). UT Austin shows enrollments very close to ours, at 18.6% overall URM, but the growth trends for our enrollments far outstrip theirs. We ascribe this to the efforts of our coordinated recruiting efforts both on and off campus.

Graduate students
The other student comparison possible with our current data set is in combined M.S. and Ph.D.-graduate enrollments in general. Aggregating M.S. and Ph.D. enrollments show that 42.1% of the graduate students in Texas A&M Geosciences are women, which compares favorably to the national average 41.6% for graduate degrees granted to women in the geosciences according to National Science Foundation data. UT Austin and Penn State both have slightly lower female enrollments of 36.8% and 37.1%, respectively, which suggests that the graduate environment for women at Texas A&M Geosciences is slightly more attractive or welcoming than these peers. At the M.S. level, Texas A&M Geosciences is especially successful at attracting and graduating women, with over 55% of recent degrees at this level across the College being awarded to women.

Minority enrollment at the graduate level is also above or at national averages for Hispanic, Black and American Indian graduate students, and Geosciences is consistently above UT Austin for all of these ethnicities, but again far from where we would like to be, which is closer to parity with the population. Penn State does a better job at attracting Black graduate students than we do (10 enrolled as opposed to 6), so sustained effort in recruiting is needed. College-wide we have had some recent success in attracting minority graduate students with targeted efforts, so I am optimistic this trend will continue.

Faculty headcount data for all four of our peer institutions shows that Geosciences is in more or less in the middle of the pack with respect to both women and under-represented minorities on the faculty. If we wish to become a leading institution, we need to be doing better on this front. This has motivated current and planned efforts to ramp up our recruiting and retention of women and minority faculty, especially in the upcoming busy recruitment season. The national average in the geosciences is 14.3% women faculty, and we are only slightly better than that at 16.1%. Penn State and UT Austin are better still at 18.5% and 19.0%, respectively, and the best among our peers is Oregon State at 25% women faculty members. Arizona State lags our performance with only 13% female faculty. With regard to under-represented minorities, Penn State is the clear leader with 7.3% faculty being URM. Arizona State has 5.6% URM faculty (all Hispanic in this category), Texas A&M Geosciences at 4.3%, and Oregon State trails us at 1.8% URM (98.1% white faculty).

These numbers show a strong disconnection between faculty composition and student (grad or undergrad) composition, in both directions. This observation with these peer institutions and a separate nationally drawn slate of peer institutions has motivated new research into why and how this is true, and what the factors actually are that increase the enrollment and success of women and minorities in the geosciences.


Eric M. Riggs
Assistant Dean
Diversity and Graduate Student Development
Research Associate Professor of Geoscience Education

University Announcements


University Staff Council

University Tobacco Rule Update
The Texas A&M University rule 34.05.99.M1 regarding the expanded non-tobacco zone has been approved and distributed. The rule now prohibits use of such substances in all areas "immediately adjacent" to buildings and other campus structures, including sidewalks, parking lots, and walkways adjacent to buildings and also applies to all vehicles owned, leased or rented by the university. A committee may be formed in the future to study the possibility of a tobacco-free campus. 


MGT of America review

Ongoing management changes across campus include the following: 

Texas A&M University will outsource the management of the University golf course to Sterling Golf Management Inc. 


The USC has responded to a request from Provost Karan Watson on the MGT Report. The USC's response can be found on the USC website.


Association of Former Students

AFS, which has graciously provided employee service pins, will no longer be able to fund these pins. A survey was recently conducted to evaluate the level of importance to employees and to seek alternative options for service recommendations. Survey results should be forthcoming. 


Council of Strategic Budgeting 

President Loftin has developed a Council of Strategic Budgeting that is charged with making recommendations to the President on all aspects of the campus budgeting environment in support of the university's core missions of teaching, scholarship and research, and engagement, as well as to support the realization of the goals contained in Vision 2020. The USC will have two representatives on this committee (one voting, one non-voting). The committee will have 22 members and three sub-councils: Student Service Fees, Tuition and Fees, and Strategic Reallocation.  

College Announcements


Dr. Ping Yang

Ping Yang is elected Fellow 

of the American Meteorological Society


Dr. Ping Yang, professor and department head in Atmospheric Sciences, has been named a Fellow of the American Meteorological Society. The election recognizes Yang's outstanding and sustained contributions to the atmospheric sciences over a substantial period of years.


Only two-tenths of one percent of the AMS membership is elected Fellow.


Yang, who has a joint appointment in physics and astronomy in the College of Science, also holds the David Bullock Harris Chair in Geosciences. He was named a Fellow of the Optical Society of America in 2010.


Yang researches the radiative budget of the atmosphere, including the scattering and absorption of cloud and aerosol particles, the transfer of solar radiation and terrestrial thermal emission, and remote sensing of cloud properties.


His other honors include recognition for his research from the National Science Foundation, NASA and the National Institute of Standards and Technology.


In addition to nearly 200 peer-reviewed articles, he is co-author of Theory of Atmospheric Radiative Transfer and writing books on light scattering by ice crystals and an introduction to satellite meteorology and atmospheric remote sensing.


All new AMS Fellows will be honored at a banquet in their honor at the AMS 93rd annual meeting, Jan. 6, in Austin. 



Department Heads meeting minutes

The Oct. 2 meeting minutes are now online.


SECC update

Geosciences' area coordinator, Rachel Rodriguez, reports that 

the winner of the Early Bird drawing was Dr. Julian Gaspar of the Mays Business School.


SECC contributions are due Oct. 31. 

Professional Activities


Dr. Achim Stoessel (OCNG) was visiting scientist at the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology at Hamburg, Germany, from mid-June to mid- August 2012. He investigated the representation of the Southern Ocean in climate models that contributed to the IPCC AR5 simulations.

Also, please note, Dr. Stoessel was mistakenly listed as having Faculty Development Leave in fall 2012; his leave is spring 2013.   



McLane Research Laboratories is now marketing the Imaging Flow Cytobot. An article in the McLane newsletter mentions the work of Dr. Lisa Campbell (OCNG and BIOL) with the instrument's developers. 




Dr. Robert Duce (ATMO and OCNG) attended the United Nations Environment Programme/Global Environment Fund (UNEP/GEF) International Waters Conference, Sept. 24-26, in Bangkok, Thailand. The theme was "Setting the international water science priorities for the next decade." Dr. Duce served as chair for the open oceans session. 




Dr. Mitch Lyle (OCNG) published a paper in ScienceMitchell Lyle, Linda Heusser, Christina Ravelo, Masanobu Yamamoto, JJohn Barron, Noah S. Diffenbaugh, Timothy Herbert, Dyke Andreasen, "Out of the Tropics: The Pacific, Great Basin Lakes, and Late Pleistocene Water Cycle in the Western United States," Science 28 September 2012: vol. 337, no. 6102, pp. 1629-1633, DOI: 10.1126/science.1218390. 

Dr. Terry Wade (GERG) and Stephen Sweet (GERG) recently co-authored a publication that appeared in Marine Pollution Bulletin. Barakat, A.O., A. Mostafa, T.L. Wade, S.T. Sweet, N.B. El Sayed, 2012. "Assessment of persistent organochlorine pollutants in sediments from Lake Manzala, Egypt." Marine Pollution Bulletin 64: 1713-1720. 


The Integrated Ocean Drilling Program 2012 Ocean Drilling Citation Report was published Sept. 28. The report covers more than 28,000 citations related to Deep Sea Drilling Project, Ocean Drilling Program (ODP), and Integrated Ocean Drilling Program research from 1969 through 2011. The study is available online. For more information about accessing and searching the Ocean Drilling Citation Database, a subset of the American Geological Institute's GeoRef database, see this site. 


The Integrated Ocean Drilling Program Expedition 339 Preliminary Report, Mediterranean outflow: environmental significance of the Mediterranean Outflow Water and its global implications, was published Monday, 17 September 2012. 




From drought, fall weather and El Nino, to future urban expansion and ancient American deserts, from the Gulf of Mexico's methane-loving bacteria and unexploded bombs to the continue-to-amaze photos beamed back from Mars, College of Geosciences' research has been seen around the world. In September, Geosciences research stories received more than 700 million unique views.


Placement in major news outlets included CBS News, Associated Press, Reuters, Science Daily, all Texas dailies, major U.S. papers as well as the Cambodia Times, Kenya Star and Wetaskiwin (Canada) newspapers. 


Media stars this month include: Drs. John Nielsen-Gammon (ATMO), Burak Guneralp (GEOG), Mitch Lyle (OCNG), Bill Bryant (OCNG) and Mark Lemmon (ATMO). Email for the complete report.


Calendar items are also posted on the College of Geosciences' 

Facebook page.


Tuesday, Oct. 9

"Stratospheric Ozone and Southern Hemisphere Climate Change," Lorenzo Polvani (Columbia University), 3:55 p.m., O&M


Friday, Oct. 12

"The Geographic Revolution: Geographers Tackling 'Big Data' Problems in Multiple Domains," Geoffrey Jacquez (President, BioMedware, Inc.), 

4 p.m., 112 O&M


Tuesday, Oct. 16

"What Controls Stratospheric Water Vapor," Andrew Dessler (Texas A&M University), 3:55 p.m., 112 O&M


Thursday, Oct. 18

"Aquifer Storage and Recovery AWRA," James Dwyer (CH2M Hill Engineering), 5:15 p.m., 118 CE


Monday, Oct. 22

"Molecular Paleotemperature Proxies: How Biochemical Responses in Marine Organisms Furnish Records," Simon Brassell (Indiana University Bloomington), 4 p.m., 112 O&M


Also check the Geosciences Seminar site.

The next issue is Oct. 22. Please submit items of general interest to the College to Karen Riedel by Thursday, Oct. 18.
Featured Articles
Update on diversity

Ping Yang selected as AMS Fellow

Over 700 million views for September research news
Departments and Programs