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From the desk of Dean Kate Miller 
Feb. 1, 2013 

  Dean Kate Miller

Dear Colleagues.


Welcome to a new year and a new semester. 

This month, I have been traveling a fair bit, in my role as "ambassador" of the College. I had the honor of giving remarks on behalf of our former Dean, Bob Duce, at a symposium dinner in his honor at the American Meteorological Society Meeting in Austin Jan. 8. Master of Ceremonies at the dinner was Dr. Peter Liss, our TIAS eminent scholar for 2013, who will join OCNG/ATMO March 1 for three months. It was heartening for me to see both the great esteem and the great affection that Bob's colleagues in atmospheric chemistry have for him as a scientist and as a person.


I spent most of the second week of January in Washington, D.C., attending the NCSE Conference on Disasters and the Environment, and an associated meeting of the Council of Environmental Deans and Directors. The conference was a great mix of current thinking on policy and science related to resiliency and the deans and directors meeting helped give me context, contacts, and resources for supporting our own environmental and water programs.


I have recently joined the board of the Foundation for the American Geosciences Institute (AGI) and attended a trustees meeting in Houston last week. Once known as the American Geological Institute, the AGI serves as an umbrella organization for many of our geoscience professional society including AAG, AAPG, AGU, and ASLO (in addition AGI has an ongoing partnership with AMS). The Foundation helps AGI by supporting earth science education initiatives, building endowments, advising AGI on trends in the geosciences, and working on AGI's awards process. 


And now I am done traveling for a while!


Last week, the College Executive Committee held its annual one-day retreat at the Hagler Center. We spent the morning sharing development priorities. Each unit presented its priorities to the group with an emphasis on describing the external impact of each, in congruence with the structure of the university-wide development campaign. Development Director Jack Falks and I will now shape these initial concepts into a draft development plan for further vetting. In the afternoon, Barbara Bayer, Assistant Dean for Finance and Administration, led us in the discussion of the FY14 budget process and a plan to reorganize major business functions in the college so that individual staff members are assigned specialized business functions to promote expertise, realize efficiencies, reduce stress, and free up staff time for department administrative functions. Department Heads all agreed to move the plan forward over the next few months. No staff members will be moved. The transition is expected to be seamless from the perspective of students and faculty. We will keep departments updated as the plan evolves.


Finally, congratulations to Director Brad Clement and his team at IODP who submitted an outstanding proposal to renew our agreement with NSF to operate science services for the JOIDES Resolution for another 10 years. The IODP team received strong support from all across the Texas A&M administration including the offices of the president, the provost, the vice president for administration, the vice president for research and sponsored research services. We expect to hear the result by late spring. 


It's nice to see everyone back from the break and engaged in what we love to do -- working with students and pushing the frontiers of the geosciences forward.


Kate Miller

Dean, College of Geosciences



College News
Zhang and Duce
Dr. Renyi Zhang and Dr. Robert Duce at the AMS Annual Meeting.

AMS Syposium honors Robert Duce

Dr. Robert A. Duce was honored at the 93rd American Meteorological Society (AMS) Annual Meeting, held Jan. 6-10 in Austin. The 2013 Robert A. Duce Symposium recognized his fundamental contributions to research and innovation in the atmospheric and oceanic sciences community both nationally and internationally.


 Robert A. Duce

The symposium, "Air-Sea Exchange: Impacts on the Atmosphere and Ocean," featured a full day of presentations, Jan. 8, and highlighted Duce's research on chemical cycles of pollutant and natural substances, atmospheric transport of chemicals from the contents to the ocean, and atmospheric chemistry and climate.


A total of 55 presentations included the keynote by Dr. Joseph M. Prospero of the University of Miami, "Spatial-Temporal Aerosol Composition Trends Over the North Atlantic and the Relationship to African Dust Transport." Dr. Peter S. Liss also contributed a keynote presentation, " 'Only Connect . . .' Inspirations from the work of Robert Duce."


A banquet that evening included remarks by Dr. Kate Miller, College of Geosciences Dean, and Dr. Jerry North, Distinguished Professor of Atmospheric Sciences and Oceanography. Concluding remarks were made by Duce. 


Duce is Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Oceanography and Atmospheric Science and former dean of the College of Geosciences, 1991 to 1997. He is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, American Geophysical Union, American Meteorological Association and the Oceanography Society. He is the chair of the National Academy of Sciences and National Research Council's Ocean Studies Board.


Food drive produces results

The College of Geosciences food drive and food sales over the past year yielded $150 and 165 pounds of food donated to the Brazos Valley Food Bank. In its thank-you note, the Brazos Valley Food Bank noted, "Please know that we value your support of Brazos Valley Food Bank and the vital anti-hunger work that we do." 

Professional Activities

Dr. Mahlon C. Kennicutt II (OCNG) was a member of the National Science Foundation's Science and Technology Center (STC) Blue Ribbon Panel, Jan. 17-18, in Washington, D.C. STCs are one of NSF's most prestigious grants with potential funding per center of $50 million over 10 years. The finalist proposals reviewed by the Blue Ribbon Panel covered all areas of science and engineering supported by NSF and each had undergone extensive and detailed reviews over the past 18 months. The Blue Ribbon Panel made final funding recommendations to NSF and announcment of finalists is expected within two months after further internal NSF review. 


Dr. Achim Stoessel (OCNG) was invited to visit the Climate, Ocean, and Sea Ice Modeling (COSIM) group at the Los Alamos National Laboratory Jan. 16-17. He gave a seminar on issues regarding the high-latitude Southern Ocean in climate models, and he established ties for a collaborative NASA proposal. 


GIS Meet and Greet

GIS faculty and students hosted a meet and greet at Evans Library Jan. 22. Students, faculty and staff from Geography, Landscape Architecture, Urban Planning, Water Resources Engineering, Ecosystem Science and Management, Oceanography, Epidemiology and Biostatistics came together to share their backgrounds in GIS. 


The GIS group invites Geosciences to like the new GIS Facebook page


Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill

Researchers from Oceanography and GERG represented Texas A&M at the Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill and Ecosystem Science Conference in New Orleans, Jan. 20-24. The Gulf Integrated Spill Consortium met before the meeting. All consortia also gave their annual reports on progress to the Research Board.

Attending were Drs. Piers Chapman, Tom Bianchi, Kristen Thyng, Matt Howard, Shari Yvon-Lewis, Steve DiMarco, Rob Hetland, and graduate student Laura Spencer, all from OCNG, and Drs. Joe Kuehl and Terry Wade from GERG.

Chapman and DiMarco co-chaired a session on the physical oceanography of the Gulf of Mexico, while Wade, DiMarco, Hetland, and Howard gave oral presentations. Laura Spencer presented a poster. 


Dillon Amaya, Amelie Berger, Dr. Debbie Thomas and Zach Rolewicz at AGU 2012.

Dr. Debbie Thomas (OCNG) and four Geosciences undergraduate students presented their original research at AGU. Dillon Amaya is a junior Meteorology major and Oceanography minor. Amelie Berger is a sophomore Environmental Geosciences major and Oceanography minor. Zach Rolewicz is a senior in Environmental Geosciences with an Oceanography minor. Mindy Nicewonger is a senior Meteorology major.


Poster sessions


"Reconstruction of South Pacific Dust Accumulation during the Early Paleogene Greenhouse,"  Dillon Amaya, Debbie Thomas, Franco Marcantonio, Robert Korty, Matthew Huber, Gisela Winckler, Carlos Alvarez Zarikian


"The Paleogene record of South Pacific Deep Water: Nd isotopes from IODP Site U1370," Amelie Berger, Debbie Thomas, Carlos Alvarez Zarikian


"Seawater Osmium Isotope Records from Pacific ODP and IODP Sites: refining the Paleogene curve and dating red clay sequences," Zach Rolewicz, Debbie Thomas, Franco Marcantonio


"The Late Paleogene Evolution of Southern Ocean Deep-water Formation: the Onset of Global Thermohaline Circulation,"  Debbie Thomas, Robert Korty, Matthew Huber, Mitch Lyle


Mindy Nicewonger presented her summer REU research "Carbonyl sulfide hydrolysis in polar ice cores and the feasibility of recovering a paleoatmospheric history," Melinda R. Nicewonger, Kamil M. Aydin, Eric S. Saltzman, Tyler J. Fudge, Edwin D. Waddington, Kristal R. Verhulst


AMS Annual Meeting

Dr. Don Conlee and several atmospheric sciences undergraduate and graduate students lead the daily weather briefings at the American Meteorological Society's annual meeting. Texas A&M participating students were Erik Nielsen, Lacy Pakebusch, Michael Koletsos, Ashley Demko, Chris Wuenscher, Grayson Almond, Jared Pocock, Hannah Upton, Brandon Bookman, Mark Benoit, and Ayrton Bryan. 


   AMS2AMS 1

(Above, from left) Atmospheric Sciences students Kristen Brewer, Jonathan Rivas, Amanda Robinson and Mariel Ruiz were among the students who presented posters at the AMS Annual Meeting.


Students, mostly from the summer SOAP program, also presented posters. Presenters were: Chris Bradley, Mariel Ruiz, Mark Benoit, Jon Rivas, Kristen Brewer, Rachel Sodowsky, Cody Webb, and Jessica Wang. One of the posters was among the competition finalists and another was solicited by a BAMS editor for submission. 


Several students also volunteered as official AMS student assistants: Camille Manning, Carlee Wood, Staphanie Oviedo-Moreno, Mark Benoit, Avery Tomasco, and Will Hatheway. 


Jon W. Zeitler '91, science and operations officer for the National Weather Service who led the daily briefings, noted that "We received very positive comments, including one from a representative of the Meteorological Service of New Zealand, who inquired about the 'training regimen' that produced such quality briefings."


Dr. Steven Quiring (GEOG) along with six graduate and five undergraduate students attended the 93rd Annual Meeting of the American Meteorology Society Meeting of the American Meteorological Society in Austin. The presentation list can be found here




Dr. Andrew Dessler (ATMO) was quoted in over 75 publications including the Washington Examiner, the Charlotte Sun, NPR and WOAI-AM for his prediction of extreme heat waves in the near future. 


Dr. Gerald North (OCNG) was quoted in Space journal about how small variations in solar activity can bring about abrupt changes in Earth's temperatures. To view the full article click here


Dr. Nielsen-Gammon (ATMO) was quoted in regarding what he referred to as the second worst water year (2011) in the 11-county region since 1893. The full article can be accessed here.




The NSF GSS program has recommended to fund Audrey Joslin's Doctoral Dissertation Improvement grant proposal, "Labor in Environmental Governance Regimes for Water and Biodiversity Conservation in Ecuador's Paramo." She joined recent NSF DDRI awardees including Adam Naito and Anna Santos.  Her proposal was chosen by the GSS DDRI Advisory Panel and was one of the 15-25 selected out of the 110 high quality competitors. 





Dr. Ernest Mancini (GEPL) was selected as this year's (2013) Doris Malkin Curtis Medal Award winner of the Gulf Coast Section Society for Sedimentary Geology (SEPM). This award recognizes geologists for their career contributions in the development of new concepts for understanding the geology of the Gulf of Mexico Basin and other basins globally. Mancini's scientific contributions to Gulf Coast geology have made a great impact in the overall understanding of sequence stratigraphy and basin modeling of the (Eastern) Gulf Coast. Previous medalists include Bill Galloway, Arnold Bouma, Harry Roberts, John Armentrout, Jim Coleman, and Frank Brown. 


Academic advisors Emily Dykes, Gail Rowe and Roxanna Russell presented Etiquette 101: Teaching Students Etiquette They Will Use Now and After College at the 2012 NACADA (National Academic Advising Association), an annual conference for advisors and counselors. On the post-evaluation, their presentation received a significant majority of the votes for being the most valuable out of more than 350 sessions. Their session had more than 250 participants and rated an approval score of 4.7 out of 5. The event coordinator noted, "It is easy to pull a high score when the attendance is low but much more difficult when you are talking that high of attendance."


Computer Access Competitive Grant Proposals 

The College of Geosciences' IT group had two of their three proposals selected for full funding by the University: the Computing Lab Network Upgrade ($21,600) and the Digital Capstone Pilot Program in the Geology and Geophysics program ($14,300). 


The proposal, "Geographic Information Science and Technology for Introductory Human Geography Core Courses," has been fully funded by the Provost's Office. Dr. Wendy Jepson is PI, and co-PIs are Drs. Michael Bishop, Christian Brannstrom, Michael Ewers, and Dan Goldberg (GEOG). The $75,00 grant helps the geography faculty integrate technology into the core curriculum.




Dr. Steve Schroeder (ATMO) paper has been accepted and published in AMS. His article can be accessed online through the AMS website www.ametsoc.orgTschudin, M. E., and S. R. Schroeder, 2013: Time constant estimates for radiosonde temperature sensors. J. Atmos. Ocean. Tech., 30, 40-56. doi: 10.1175/JTECH-D-11-00181.1 


IODP Expedition 346

The Integrated Ocean Drilling Program Expedition 346 Scientific Prospectus, Asian Monsoon: Onset and evolution of millennial-scale variability of Asian monsoon and its possible relation with Himalaya and Tibetan Plateau uplift, was published Jan. 10. The Scientific Prospectus can be viewed heredoi:10.2204/iodp.sp.346.2013 


Dr. Lisa Campbell (OCNG) and post-doc Dr. Darren Henrichs have published four papers available online. 


Lisa Campbell, Darren W. Henrichs, Robert J. Olson and Heidi M. Sosik. 2013. Continuous automated imaging-in-flow cytometry for detection and early warning of Karenia brevis blooms in the Gulf of Mexico. Environ Sci Pollut Res. doi: 10.1007/s11356-012-1437-4  


Darren W. Henrichs, Mark A. Renshaw, John R. Gold, Lisa Campbell. 2013. Genetic diversity among clonal isolates of Karenia brevis as measured with microsatellite markers. Harmful Algae, 21-22 (2013): 30-35. doi: 10.1016/j.hal.2012.11.003 


Darren W. Henrichs, Mark A. Renshaw, John R. Gold, Lisa Campbell. 2013. Population-genetic structure of the toxic dinoflagellate Karenia brevis from the Gulf of Mexico. J. Plankton Res. (2013) 0(0): 1-6. doi:10.1093/plankt/fbs103 


Darren W. Henrichs, Paula S. Scott, Karen A. Steidinger, Reagan M. Errera, Ann Abraham, and Lisa Campbell. 2013. Morphology and phylogeny of Prorocentrum texanum sp. nov. (DINOPHYCEAE): A new toxic dinoflagellate from the Gulf of Mexico coastal waters exhibiting two distinct morphologies. Journal of Phycology.



Friday, Feb. 1

"Modeling Civil Violence with Optimization, Simulation and GIS," Justin Yates, Texas A&M University, 4 p.m., O&M 112


Friday, Feb. 8

"High Altitude Climate Change: The Survival Struggle of our Earth's Alpine Glaciers," Andrew Bush, University of Alberta, 4 p.m., O&M 112


Tuesday, Feb. 12

"Indigenous Knowledge, Climate Change, and Building Anticipatory Capacity: An Interdisciplinary Cha," Karim Kassam, Cornell University, 4 p.m., MSC 1400


Friday, Feb. 15

"On the Causes of the Shrinking of Lake Chad," Huilin Gao, Texas A&M, 4 p.m., O&M 112


Saturday, Feb. 16

Aggieland Saturday


Friday, Feb. 22

"Ways Forward for GIS&T Education," David DiBiase, ESRI, 4 p.m., O&M 112


Friday and Saturday, Feb. 22-23

David V. Wilschko Symposium, Halbouty


Calendar items are also posted on the College of Geosciences' 

Facebook page.


See the Geosciences Seminar site for future spring 2013 seminars.

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