College of Geosciences logo

From the desk of Dean Kate Miller
November 14, 2012 

Dear Colleagues,
In this issue, Barbara Bayer, assistant dean for finance and administration, discusses the upcoming budget process. Careful planning and wise use of limited resources is critical to the future of our college.


Kate Miller


Dear Colleagues, 
 Barbara Bayer

The college is now in the planning phases for the annual ExecutiveCommittee Retreat to be held in January 2013. Among the topics that we will discuss are the budget, the budget request process, and linkages between budget requests and departmental and college strategic priorities. Our goal is to ensure the budget process is transparent, effective, and ensure resources are allocated appropriately.

The retreat in January is the first and one of the most significant steps in the budget timeline. This retreat allows the Executive Committee to begin their priority setting for the upcoming fiscal year, evaluate accomplishments over the last cycle, discuss mid-year budgetary needs, and determine the next steps. This process helps to focus efforts and resources, while setting the direction for the college and departments for the next phases of the budget process.

Following the retreat in January, departments begin developing their departmental strategic priorities and needs as well as any additional funding needs associated with these priorities or operational goals. Departments then present their department-specific strategic priorities and budget needs at a budget retreat held in March. Departments submit budget requests in March and April. Once the college receives notification of the university allocation to the college (usually mid-May), we then begin to prioritize budget requests based on linkages to the college and departmental strategic priorities and available funds. May begins the kick-off of the university's multi-phased budget process, which concludes mid to late July.

With limited personnel and fiscal resources, new mandates on existing resources, and compliance and accountability requirements, we must continue to be strategic in the use of those resources to meet our needs and continue to grow and develop our programs. We have to re-think how we do things to ensure we are operating efficiently and effectively to the meet our goals. An example might be to assess how we organize our operations, find ways to accomplish tasks more efficiently, and work to eliminate redundancies.

As your department heads and directors begin gearing up for the retreat in January, this would be a great opportunity to visit with them on suggested priorities and needs. You may also send your suggestions or ideas to me, and I will be happy to provide that information to your units. For questions and comments regarding the budget, contact Barbara Bayer, 979.862.1146, or


Barbara Bayer
Assistant Dean for Finance and Administration

College Announcements


Holiday party

Annual Awards Ceremony and Holiday Party

The College of Geosciences invites you and a guest to the Annual Awards Ceremony and Holiday Party to honor the Dean's Distinguished Achievement Awards recipients, the Association of Former Student Awards, the Class of 2012 tenured and promoted faculty members, and newly elected fellows and other honorees. The reception and buffet dinner is from 5:30-8:30 p.m., Nov. 30, at the Hilton Hotel, College Station. RSVP to Rachel Rodriguez or 979.845.3651, by 5 p.m. Friday, Nov. 23.  

GIS Day 2012

Texas A&M University Libraries, along with partners from campus and the local community, will celebrate GIS Day 2012 Tuesday, Nov. 13 and Wednesday, Nov. 14. Coordinated by the Map & GIS  Library, activities during the event will demonstrate Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technologies being used on campus and in research and development.   

Tuesday's keynote speaker was Dr. Michael P. Bishop, professor and Harold J. Haynes Chair in Geosciences, Department of Geography. He spoke on "Geographic Information Science and Technology (GIS&T): Developments, Activities and Opportunities."
Introduced locally to the Texas A&M community in 2007, the International GIS Day is celebrated worldwide. The local schedule of activities on Nov. 14 features a faculty panel, geospatial exhibits, GIS demonstrations, and a student poster exhibit. The Geospatial Career Panel includes Drs. Daniel W. Goldberg and Anthony M. Filippi (GEOG). Students can sign up for the poster exhibit and a chance to win a $100 debit card.
The campus community and the general public are invited to all events.
GIS Day is co-sponsored by the University Libraries, Map and GIS Library, the College of Geosciences and Department of Geography, the Hazard Reduction and Recovery Center, The Center for Housing and Urban Development, and the Immersive Visualization Center, as well as the City of Bryan Geographic Information Services and the City of College Station GIS Department.  


TAMU bomb hoax 

After the bomb threat that triggered the campus evacuation on Oct. 19, Texas A&M Environmental Health and Safety and the System's Safety and Security Office evaluated their response. At a meeting on Oct. 31 the directors of those offices acknowledged failings in their plan and asked for the assistance of building managers in refining and expanding the bomb threat reaction plan. Revision of the plan will continue but will not receive publicity for reasons that should be intuitively obvious. For Halbouty and O&M, however, Maureen Reap, facilities coordinator, will update the evacuation plans to reflect this new trend of bomb threats to schools. These will be posted on the college website when updated.

Maureen also will forward to EHS comments on the experience and your suggestions for improving the procedure. Send your ideas to her at To head off comments about walking not riding, that decision was made to avoid "post-game like" traffic gridlock. To get the most people away from campus buildings the fastest, it was deemed prudent to leave cars in the parking lots.

Facilities Services outsourcing
The transition from university Facilities Services to Compass Group USA continues. Most recently, the company has redrawn the maintenance areas and instituted new procedural and communication pathways. Halbouty is now in maintenance Zone B. Eller O&M, the Teague complex, and the TAES Annex are in Zone A. IODP is in Zone D. All the zones have new supervisors, with two former Texas A&M supervisors having regional oversight of the main and west campuses. The senior administrative personnel remain the same; they work for Compass now. 


iGeo 2012 
Ten future geoscientists from around Texas came to the fourth annual iGeo program came to campus Oct. 18-20. Dr. Sonia Garcia (Dean's Office_ would like to thank the following faculty, staff, and students for their support during the iGeo program: Dr. Chris Houser (GEOG), Dr. Bruce Herbert (GEPL), Dr. Rick Giardino (GEPL), Dr. Debbie Thomas (OCNG), Dr. Don Conlee (ATMO), Dr. Courtney Schumacher (ATMO), Emily Dykes (ENVP), Christine Arnold (ATMO/OCNG), Gail Rowe (GEOG), Suzanne Rosser (GEPL), Roxanna Russell (Dean's Office). The iGeo program also had a number of student volunteers for a geosciences student panel and as hosts: Rachel Seals (GEPL), Wilmer Menjivar and Damien Johnson (GEOG), Dillon Amaya, Noel Handy, Florita Rodriguez (ATMO), Amelie Berger (ENGS), Luke Furfey and Nancy Luong (ENST), and Victor Garcia (WMHS). The Water Management Program students organized the iGeo tailgate event. 


From last year's 14 iGeo participants, seven are now freshman in the College of Geosciences. The weekend is sponsored by Marathon Oil and the College of Geosciences.

iGeo students get their hands wet in Geology's stream table.


Global Faculty Ambassador Program (GFA) 

The Provost's Office is initiating the Global 

Faculty Ambassador Program (GFA).

Chris houser
Dr. Chris Houser

The first GFA is Dr. Chris Houser (GEOG). The GFA duties include interacting with faculty, administrators and staff in colleges, departments or programs as ambassadors for global engagement at Texas A&M. They will also be speaking at various meetings or colloquia to assist faculty in conceptualizing new global learning initiatives and to voice the concerns of administrators, faculty or staff. 


Up to three GFAs may be appointed to serve as liaisons between the faculty and Office of the Provost. Dr. Houser is also Texas A&M's current GFA for the Soltis Center for Research and Education where he has been instrumental to Texas A&M's global educational mission since early 2008. 


Dr. Houser encourages faculty members to contact him regarding ideas for new international programs or initiatives.

Professional Activities




Texas A&M Agrilife Awards go to Texas Sea Grant employees 

The Texas Sea Grant Extension Team to Establish and Implement Trade Adjustment Assistance for Gulf and South Atlantic Shrimp Fisherman received the Texas A&M Agrilife Extension Superior Service Award. Team members are:


Terrie Looney, CEA-Coastal and Marine Resources (CMR), Chambers and Jefferson Counties 

Julie Massie, CEA-CMR, Galveston County

John O'Connell, CEA-CMR, Matagorda County
Rhonday Cummins, CEA-CMR, Calhoun County
Ginger Easton Smith, CEA-ANR, Aransas County
Edward Reisinger, CEA-CMR; Cameron County
Micheal Haby, Professor and Extension Seafood Economist
Gary Graham, Senior Research Associate, Sea Grant Extension
Russell Miget, Senior Research Associate, Sea Grant Extension


Extension Superior Service Award 

Dr. John Jacob, agriculture and life sciences faculty, has been selected to receive the annual Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Superior Service Award. 

Dr. Jacob is one of 16 individuals on six teams and one unit chosen from the nominations submitted. He will be recognized on Tuesday, Jan. 8, during the general session of the Texas A&M AgriLife Conference in College Station. The presentation at 3:30 p.m. will be followed by a reception in Dr. Jacob's honor. 



JOIDES Resolution going through the Panama Canal. IODP Expedition 344: Costa Rica Seismogenesis Project began Oct. 23 in Balboa, Panama, and is scheduled to end Dec. 11 in Puntarenas, Costa Rica. For the daily and weekly Science Reports, see the website
Giese, Benjamin
Benjamin Giese 



Benjamin Giese (OCNG) and Hank Seidel (OCNG), research scientist, were awarded 2.4 million hours of computer time on NSF's new supercomputer Yellowstone to study climate change from 1845 to the present using an ocean reanalysis system. Located in Wyoming, Yellowstone is a 1.5 petaflop machine, one of the 10 fastest computers in the world. 




Dr. Matt Howard (OCNG) and Ph.D. candidate, Ruth Mullins-Perry, presented three papers at the MTS/IEEE OCEANS 2012 meeting at Hampton Roads, Virginia. An expert in cyberinfrastructure and data management, Dr. Howard presented "U.S. IOOS Program Office Quality Assurance of Real-time Ocean Data Project," and "Integrating Observing Systems to Benefit Stakeholders: A Case Study in the Gulf of Mexico" on behalf of Dr. Ann Jochens (OCNG), who directs the Gulf of Mexico Coastal Ocean Observing System Regional Association. Both talks were part of the U.S. Integrated Ocean Observing session. 


Mullins-Perry also presented "From Rivers to the Coastal Ocean: A Model for Integrating Observing Systems on the West Florida Shelf" in the session on Integrated Ocean Observing Science and Technology Applications. All three talks were well-received by the MTS/IEEE OCEANS audience. Texas A&M is a leader in the Gulf of Mexico for ocean observing systems that benefit decision-making by the public, educators, resource managers, academics, and business. Inquiries on GCOOS and IOOS should be directed to Dr. Jochens.  


Dr. Ethan Grossman (GEPL) presented an invited lecture at the Paleontological Society Short Course at the National Geological Society of America meeting, "Reconstructing Earth's Deep-Time Climate - The State of the Art in 2012," and another invited presentation, "The Oxygen Isotope Record of Earth History."

At the GSA Meeting, Dr. Grossman and his students presented the following:  


Grossman, E.L. The oxygen isotopic record of Earth history. Geol. Soc. America Abstracts with Programs, v. 44.  


Robbins, J.A.,* Tao, K.,**  Grossman, E. L., and O'Dea, A., 2012. Exploring the delayed overturn in Caribbean fauna using gastropod stable-isotope profiles to quantify seasonal upwelling and freshening of coastal waters. Geol. Soc. America Abstracts with Programs, v. 44.  


Tao, K.,** Robbins, J.A.,**  Grossman, E.L., and O'Dea, A., 2012. Quantifying upwelling and freshening in nearshore tropical environments using stable isotopes in modern Tropical American gastropods. Geol. Soc. America Abstracts with Programs, v. 44.  


Woodard*, S.C., Thomas, D.J.,  Grossman, E.L., Olszewski, T.D., Yancey, T.E., Raymond, A., and Miller, B.V., 2012. Nd isotopes reflect eustatic and climatic change during Late Paleozoic Ice Age: a record from the Bird Spring platform, western U.S. Geol. Soc. America Abstracts with Programs, v. 44.   

*graduate student


At GSA, the following presentations were given by new GEPL graduate students based on projects at their undergraduate institutions:

Fresh water Mussel Shells (Chambardia Wissmanni) as Archives of Past African River Biogeochemistry, Lauren Graniero, et al.


Tracking Whole Rock Geochemical Changes Driven by Diagentic Recrystallization of Carbonates: An Analysis of the Ordovican Chickamauga Limestone (North-Central Alabama), Andrew P. Roark, et al.  


Dr. Matthew Schmidt (OCNG) presented "Current Research in Earth, Impact of Abrupt Deglacial Climate Change on Tropical Atlantic Subsurface Temperatures," Nov. 1, at Rice University. Schmidt discussed his findings that both instrumental data analyses and coupled ocean-atmosphere models indicate that Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) variability is tightly linked to abrupt tropical North Atlantic (TNA) climate change through both atmospheric and oceanic processes. 


Dr. Thomas Yancey (GEPL) and Jennifer Hendricks (GEPL), graduate student, attended the annual meeting of the Gulf Coast Association of Geological Societies in Austin, Oct. 19-22 and presented talks and poster sessions:

Hart, M. B., Yancey, T. E., Leighton, A. D., Miller, B., Liu, C., Smart, C. W. and Twitchett, R. J., 2012, The Cretaceous-Paleogene boundary on the Brazos River, Texas: New stratigraphic sections and revised interpretations; Gulf Coast Association of Geological Societies, GCAGS Journal, v. 1, p. 69-80.  


Yancey, T. E., Dunham, A. and Durney, K., 2012, Paleocene-Eocene marine transgression in the Upper Calvert Bluff Formation, Wilcox Group, Bastrop County, Texas; Gulf Coast Association of Geological Societies, Transactions, v. 62, p. 491-502.  


Hendricks, J. K., Yancey, T. E., Flis, J. E., Flis, C. J. and Grossman, E. L., 2012, Formation of barrel concretions around methane seepage pathways in Upper Middle Eocene shelf sediments, Stone City Bluff, Texas; Gulf Coast Association of Geological Societies, Transactions, v. 62, p. 179-188.  


McBride, E. F., Folk, R. L. and Yancey, T. E., 2012, Silica-cemented sandstones (groundwater calcretes) in outcrops of the Jackson Group, Texas coastal plain; Gulf Coast Association of Geological Societies, Transactions, v. 62, p. 273-285.  


Folk, R. L., McBride, E. F. and Yancey, T. E., 2012, Proposed microbial origin of kaolinite in Simsboro Sandstone (Upper Paleocene), Limestone County, Texas; Gulf Coast Association of Geological Societies, Transactions, v. 62, p. 117-129.  




Dr. Thomas Bianchi (OCNG) has been named Editor-in-Chief of Elsevier. This is a multidisciplinary journal devoted to the analysis of saline water phenomena ranging from the outer edge of the continental shelf to the upper limits.  


Dr. Bruce Herbert (GEPL) has been appointed associate editor of the

Herbert, Bruce
 Bruce Herbert

Journal of Geoscience Education. The journal is the premier peer-reviewed publication for geoscience education research and curriculum and instruction at the undergraduate and pre-college levels. JGE is the publication of record for the National Association of Geoscience Teachers (NAGT), and serves as the only international forum for research concerning the pedagogy, assessment, and philosophy of teaching and learning about the geosciences.


Dr. Wilford Gardner (OCNG) attended a two-day University-National Oceanographic Laboratory System (UNOLS) Council meeting and the annual UNOLS member meeting at NSF in Arlington, Virginia, Oct. 23-24, to consider issues regarding the U.S. academic rese

arch vessel fleet. NSF will retire Cape Hatteras next year. Point Sur is going to work at Palmer Station for the "summer" season and will be retired if there is insufficient funded work when they return. Progress is being made on the construction of three new ships and a submersible Alvin. Dr. Gardner was re-elected for another 3-year term on the UNOLS Council. 

Orsi, Alejandro
Alejandro Orsi

Oct. 22-25,  


Dr. Alejandro Orsi (OCNG) gave an invited talk and contributed to working groups during the first Seeing Below the Ice Workshop held in Hobart, Australia. A key objective of the Southern Ocean Observing System (SOOS) International Project Office is to develop a strategy for a sustained network of observations in the Antarctic sea-ice zone.


Dr. Sonia Garcia, Director of Recruitment, attended the Biennial Association of American Geographer's meeting, Race, Ethnicity, and Place Conference in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Oct. 24-26. Partners for this conference included Texas State University, Binghamton University in New York, University of Miami, Cameron University, the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI), and University of Puerto Rico, with more than 700 in attendance. Dr. Garcia was able to introduce the Geosciences program to undergraduates from the University of Puerto Rico. She said that there was much interest in GIS, geomorphology, geoinformatics, oceanography, and the REU opportunities through Dr. Chris Houser. 




Dr. Bruce Herbert recently collaborated with his two Ph.D. students Omar Harvey (WMHS) and Li-Jung Kuo(GEPL) in the following publications:


Harvey, O.R., B.E.  Herbert, L.-J. Kuo, and P. Louchouarn, "Generalized Two-Dimensional Perturbation Correlation Infrared Spectroscopy (2D-PCIS) reveals Mechanisms for the Development of Surface Charge and Recalcitrance in Plant-derived Biochars." Environ. Sci. & Technol. 10.1021/es302971d.   


Harvey, O.R., L.-J. Kuo, A. Zimmerman, P. Louchouarn, J. Amonette, and B.E. Herbert . "An index-based approach to assessing recalcitrance and soil carbon sequestration potential of engineered black carbons (Biochars)."Environ. Sci. & Technol. 46(3): 1415-1421.

Dr. Herbert also has three chapters in the new book, Strengthening Science Education Leadership: An Information Technology-based Learning Ecology Model, J.F. Schielack and S.L. Knight (eds.), Teacher College Press, New York, N.Y., 2012.


Herbert, B.E., S. Pedersen and .F. Schielack, 2012. "Creating synergy through a focus on technology-based inquiry," pp. 35-38.


Wu, X.B., L. Griffing, B. Herbert, G. Acheson, and S.L. Knight. 2012. "Bridging current science and classrooms: The science learning community perspective," pp. 95-106. 


Nickles, G.L., and B.E. Herbert. "Connectivity in the IT-based learning ecology: A system perspective. pp. 83-94. 


Former dean and Distinguished Professor Emeritus Dr. Robert Duce (OCNG/
ATMO) published "Atmospheric Transport and Deposition of Mineral Dust to the Ocean: Implications for Research Needs," was published in the Journal of Environmental Science and Technology, Volume 46, pps. 10390 to 10404. The article is a result of a UN workshop session that Dr. Duce chaired in Malta in 2011.


Sosdian*, S., Lear, C., Tao*, K.,  Grossman, E.L., O'Dea, A., Rosenthal, Y., 2012. Cenozoic Seawater Sr/Ca evolution: Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems (G3) v. 13, Q10014, doi:10.1029/2012GC004240.  


E.L. Grossman, 2012. Applying Oxygen Isotope Paleothermometry in Deep Time. In L. C. Ivany and B. T. Huber (eds.), Reconstructing Earth's Deep-Time Climate - The State of the Art in 2012. Paleontological Society Papers. Paleontological Society, p. 39-67.

*graduate student   


The Integrated Ocean Drilling Program Expedition 342 Preliminary Report, Paleogene Newfoundland Sediment Drifts, was published Oct. 29, 


breast cancer IODP
IODP Expedition 344 scientific party walked for a cure against breast cancer on JOIDES Resolution helipad.



TAMU experts have a word or two about Hurricane Sandy


Dr. Steven Quiring (GEOG) and Seth Guikema, a former Texas A&M engineering professor now with Johns Hopkins University, were cited by various media sources, including NBC, CNN, USA Today and Discovery Channel, for their computer model used to estimate how many people on the East Coast would lose power. 


Drs. John Nielsen-Gammon (ATMO) and Dr. Robert Korty (ATMO) were interviewed by KBTX local news regarding their predictions of the extent and damage done by Hurricane Sandy. Meteorology students in the Wall of Weather Room also commented on the storm for the broadcast. Click to view the interview with KBTX.


Or, to view the the full story on the TAMU experts and their predictions about Hurricane Sandy click here.


Also, Dr. Chris Houser (GEOG) was interviewed about Hurricane Sandy's post-tropical cyclone tracking by Scientific American Oct. 1. The full interview and story can be seen here.     


On Oct. 17, Janet Torres, Krittika Govil and Alan Lewis, (WMHS) and Jaime Ricci (GEPL) and Adam Lee (GEPL) led several demonstrations for educational outreach to sixth graders from the Kor Education School in College Station. Dr. Sonia Garcia thanks Dr. Sam Feagley (Agriculture), Dr. Thomas Yancy (GEPL), Dr. Rick Giardino (GEPL) and Dr. Eric Riggs (GEPL) for lending materials and a lab room for the students to work with. Dr. Garcia said the parents where very satisfied with the learning activities and have contacted the Dean's Office about planning future field trips to learn more about other Earth systems.  


Calendar items are also posted on the College of Geosciences' 

Facebook page.


Also see the Geosciences Seminar site for all fall 2012 seminars.


Wednesday, Nov. 14

GIS Day 2012, GIS Focus Panel, 10-11:30p.m., MSC 2400


Thursday, Nov. 15
"Wetland Regulation and Delineation: AWRA," Rex McAliley, Turner Biological Consulting, 5:15 p.m., CE 118 


Friday, Nov. 16
"Our Pappies Burned the Woods": Tree-Ring Studies of Appalachian Fire History and Its Relations with Land Use and Climate," Charles Lafon, Texas A&M University, 4 p.m., O&M 112 


Tuesday, Nov. 20
"The Three Laws of Climate Change," Bruce Wielicki, NASA Langley Research Center, 3:55 p.m., O&M 112 


Monday, Nov. 26

"Uranium-Series Isotopes in Eastern Equatorial Pacific Sediments," Franco Marcantonio, Texas A&M University, 4 p.m. O&M 112.


Tuesday, Nov. 27

"The Science and Politics of Motor Vehicle Emissions," Donald Stedman, University of Denver, 3:55 p.m. O&M 112.


Thursday, Nov. 29

"Sea Otters, Kelp Forests, and Coastal Communities: Ecosystem Services Amongst Trophic Cascades," Dr. Kai Chan, University of British Columbia, 4:05 p.m., MSC 2404.


Friday, Nov. 30

Annual Awards Ceremony and Holiday Party, The Hilton Hotel, College Station, 5:30-8:30 p.m. RSVP to Rachel Rodriguez or 979.845.3651, by 5 p.m. Friday, Nov. 23.   

Please submit items of general interest to the College to Karen Riedel.
Featured Articles

GIS week

Annual Awards and Holiday Party

Departments and Programs