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From the desk of Dean Kate Miller 
March 2013

  Dean Kate Miller

Dear Colleagues,


It's that time of year when candidates for faculty positions come to visit. We have five searches at the assistant professor level under way across the college. Every time I meet with a candidate, and I have met with nearly all of them, I also see the strong work of the search committees in recruiting top talent to our College. The candidates are all energetic, excited about their research, and about the future of teaching and research at Texas A&M. Competitive offers are in the works, and I am looking forward to seeing a strong "freshmen class" of assistant professors join us this fall. 


I am pleased to announce that we do have a terrific new hire. Dr. Anthony Knap has accepted our offer to be director of GERG and professor in Oceanography. Dr. Knap will be here April 15, and more information will be forthcoming. 


I am currently serving on a couple key university councils at the moment: the Strategic Reallocation sub-council of the Council for Strategic Budgeting, and the Engineering 25x25 subcommittee. The work of the sub-council involves making recommendations to the President on campus budgeting priorities in support of the university's core missions. The work of the Steering Committee is to give advice and study the impacts of the College of Engineering's initiative to increase accessibility to engineering education at all levels. 


A number of us were in China the first week of March on a mission to visit a number of Chinese universities in an effort to foster research collaborations and scientific exchanges. A highlight of the trip was a signing ceremony for a Memorandum of Understanding between our College and the School of Atmospheric Physics at Nanjing University.


The next six weeks, as usual, are extremely busy for us all. Please mark these important dates on your calendar.


April 5: Geosciences College Advisory Council

April 5: Scholarship Banquet 

April 10: Berg-Hughes Center Symposium 
Register by April 3 

April 13: Parents' Weekend

May 10: Geosciences' Graduation Reception 
Please note that the awards ceremony begins at 9 a.m. since the Geosciences' graduation ceremony is at 2 p.m. 





Kate Miller

Dean, College of Geosciences


College News

Aggieland Saturday attracts prospective students

The College of Geosciences participated in Aggieland Saturday on Feb. 16. This campus-wide open house for prospective students and their families welcomed an estimated 12,000 people. The College hosted various information sessions about the geosciences as well as general sessions for Admissions and Financial Aid. The Geology and Geophysics and the Atmospheric Sciences departments also hosted tours for students and their families. The College of Geosciences had over 100 students show interest by registering at the information tables set up in the O&M lobby. 

Thank you to the Aggieland Saturday Committee and all of the volunteers for helping make the event a success.


Committee members were: Dr. Don Collins (ENVP), Dr. Sarah Bednarz, Roxanna Russell, and Janet Torres (Dean's Office), Missy Mathews and Dr. Courtney Schumacher (ATMO). Dr. Debbie Thomas (OCNG), Dr. Chris Houser and Gail Rowe (GEOG), Dr. Rick Giardino and Suzanne Rosser (GEPL) and Dr. Katerina Petronotis (IODP). Emily Dykes (ENVP) organized the event.


Sea Grant appoints two new members to the team

Rhonda Patterson is Texas Sea Grant's new outreach specialist, who will be responsible for raising awareness of ocean issues and Texas Sea Grant both on the Texas A&M campus and in the surrounding communities. Patterson '91 graduated with a degree in biology. 

Among her more immediate and visible projects will be supervising operation of a 300-gallon saltwater aquarium that Texas Sea Grant will place in Texas A&M's Memorial Student Center. The aquarium will be located immediately beneath the "Memory Cloud" that was just installed. The aquarium is scheduled to be installed by early summer.

For more about Texas Sea Grant's Brazos Valley outreach program, please contact Patterson at or 979-845-3857.


Dr. Mona Behl was named research coordinator for the Texas Sea

Grant College Program Feb. 4. She will oversee the program's research grant, scholarship and fellowship opportunities, and will contribute to Texas Sea Grant's state and federal reporting efforts. 


Dr. Behl is based at Texas Sea Grant's headquarters at Texas A&M. To learn more about Texas Sea Grant's research grant, scholarship or fellowship opportunities, contact Dr. Behl by phone (979-458-0449) or email (

(adapted from news releases by Jim Hiney, Texas Sea Grant)


IT staff adds a new member

Tim Barnes joined the IT Staff as a Microcomputer/LAN Administrator March 1. Tim is learning about the College's IT operations and can be found in the Help Desk office in O&M 802B. He has an associate's degree in Computer Information Systems from North Harris Montgomery Community College. Tim was most recently with the College Station Independent School District supporting the IT needs of the Special Services Department. 


Wireless network upgrades are under way

Network Installers from Texas A&M Network and Information Security will be around the O&M building upgrading and adding additional wireless access points (WAPs) for the TAMULink wireless network. Since the last upgrade, the number of wireless devices has exploded, according to Paul Stine, senior IT manager. "Early in March a survey was conducted to determine where best to locate the additional WAPs. We tried to eliminate those corners where the signal was the weakest. The goal is to add more WAPs per floor and to increase the bandwidth available through each. An installer said that the new loads are estimated by doubling the number of seats in a classroom, one laptop and one cell phone connection per seat," Stine said. 

Professional Activities


Major NSF project charts future for geography education

The Road Map Project for 21st Century Geography Education, developed in part under the leadership of Dr. Sarah Bednarz, (Dean's Office) is available for download at


Funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation, the Road Map Project responds to the growing recognition among business leaders and policy makers that Americans lack the critical geographic understanding and reasoning skills that will be required for careers and civic life in the 21st century. Over the course of two years, the Road Map Project brought together experts in geography, science, education, and research from across the U.S. to create a set of landmark reports focusing on key issues for educational improvement: instructional materials for students, education of teachers, assessment in geography, and a research agenda for geography education. Dr. Bednarz co-chaired the Geography Education Research Committee that produced the report on that subject.


These road map reports chart a course for the large-scale improvement of geography education in the United States.


Geographer appointed to national GIS board

Dr. Daniel Goldberg (GEOG) has been named a delegate to the University Consortium for Geographic Information Science. He will serve on the board until June 2014. Texas A&M is the organization's newest member. The UCGIS mission is to advance research in the field of Geographic Information Science, expand and strengthen Geographic Information Science education, advocate policies for the promotion of the ethical use of and access to geographic information and technologies, and build scholarly communities and networks to foster multi-disciplinary GIS research and education. 


Geosciences strengthens ties
with scientific community in China

Several College of Geosciences administrators and professors were in China over spring break for to investigate further future scientific collaborations, including student and faculty exchanges and international agreements. 


The group visited the following: 

Shanghai: School of Ocean and Earth Sciences at Tongji University 

Hangzhou: Departments of Ocean Sciences and Engineering, Earth Sciences, Information Sciences and Electronic Engineering at Zhejiang University 

Nanjing: Nanjing Institute of Meteorology and the Colleges of Atmospheric Physics and of Oceanography at the Nanjing University of Information Science and Technology 

Xi'an: Institute of Earth Environment, Chinese Academy of Sciences  

Beijing: Chinese National Science Foundation, and the Institutes of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research and of Remote Sensing Applications at the Chinese Academy of Science


Representatives from Nanjing University signed an MOU with Texas A&M which includes an Atmospheric Sciences summer session, and student and faculty exchanges.


Attending for all or part of the five-city trip were Drs. Kate Miller, Jack Baldauf, Ping Yang, Piers Chapman, Andrew Dessler, Steve DiMarco, and Brenden Roark. Dr. Yang made the arrangements with the universities and research institutes and also served as host and guide. 


Geosciences' group at Tongji University in Shanghai. 



Dr. Kate Miller will receive the Baldwin School Alumnae Award, May 3, in Bryn Mawr, Penn. She will be honored during the annual alumnae weekend. The Baldwin School is an independent college preparatory school for grades pre-kindergarten through 12. Its mission is develop  "talented girls into confident young women with vision, global understanding, and the competency to make significant and enduring contributions to the world."





The Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP) will host the pre-expedition meeting for South China Sea Expedition 349 on April 10 and 11. Scheduled to attend this meeting are the co-chief scientists, Dr. Chun-Feng Li (Tongji University, China) and Dr. Jian Lin (Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute), the expedition project manager, Dr. Denise Kulhanek (IODP), and the logging staff scientist, Dr. Trevor Williams (Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University). The expedition is scheduled as the first science program of the new International Ocean Discovery Program. The program's science plan, Illuminating Earth's Past, Present, and Future, addresses pressing scientific priorities and social concerns within four themes: climate and ocean change, biosphere frontiers, Earth connections and Earth in motion.


Dr. Robert Duce (ATMO/OCNG) co-chaired, along with Dr. Peter Liss, currently Geosciences' Eminent Scholar at the Texas A&M Institute for Advanced Studies, a workshop on "The Atmospheric Deposition of Nitrogen and Its Impact on Marine Biogeochemistry." The workshop included 27 people from 12 countries and was held at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, UK. The workshop was sponsored by NSF, SCOR, and the United Nations and will result in a number of peer-reviewed publications.


As part of his faculty development leave Dr. Achim Stoessel (ATMO) visited the Finnish Meteorological Institute, Helsinki, from February 4 to March 1, mainly to work on a joint paper and to discuss future collaborative projects with Dr. Vihma, an expert in high-latitude meteorology. 


Dr. Debbie Thomas (OCNG/GEPL) served as a mentor for the Marine Geosciences Leadership Symposium held March 11-15 in Washington, D.C. Other Texas A&M participants were Drs. Mona Behl (Sea Grant) and Leah Schneider (IODP).  


The annual symposium, sponsored by Ocean Leadership, provides leadership and communications training and begins the process of forming interdisciplinary research collaborations.




Dr. Terry Wade (GERG) and Stephen Sweet (GERG) presented "Atmospheric Deposition of Pesticides, PCB, PAH, Nutrients and Metals to Texas Coastal Estuaries" at the Robert A. Duce Symposium, Air-Sea Exchange: Impacts on the Atmosphere and Oceans, 93rd American Meteorological Society Meeting. Austin, Jan. 6-10.


The following presentations were given at the Gulf of Mexico: Oil Spill & Ecosystem Science Conference, New Orleans, La., January 21-23.


Dr. Terry WadeStephen Sweet, Dr. José Sericano (GERG), D. Shi and Dr. Norman Guinasso, Jr. (GERG/OCNG) presented "Total Scanning Fluorescence (TSF) Determination of Petroleum in the Vicinity of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill." 


Dr. Terry Wade (GERG) was an author of the following presentation: Hyland, J., Cooksey, C. Fulton, M. Wirth, E. and Wade T. 2013. "Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill: Assessment of Potential Impacts to the Offshore Benthos along the Northeastern Gulf of Mexico Shelf."  


Zeynep Dincer (GEPL and GERG), M. Pendergraf, Dr. José Sericano (GERG), Dr. Franco Marcantonio (GEPL), Dr. Terry Wade (GERG), Dr. Thomas Bianchi (OCNG), B.E. Rosenheim, and A.S. Kolker presented the poster, "Relating PAH Content to Overall Stability of Organic Matter Containing DWH Oil."  


Dr. Terry Wade (GERG) was an author of the following presentation: Hyland, J., Cooksey, C. Fulton, M. Wirth, E. and Wade T. 2013. "Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill: Assessment of Potential Impacts to the Offshore Benthos along the Northeastern Gulf of Mexico Shelf." 




Dr. Eric Riggs (Dean's Office/GEPL) has two recent publications:


Herrera, J. S., and Riggs, E. M. (2013). Identifying students' conceptions of basic principles in sequence stratigraphy. Journal of Geoscience Education, 61(1), pp. 89-102. DOI: 10.5408/12-290.1


Herrera, J. S., and Riggs, E. M. (2013). Relating Gestures and Speech: An analysis of students' conceptions about geological sedimentary processes. International Journal of Science Education, DOI: 10.1080/09500693.2013.775609


The Integrated Ocean Drilling Program Expedition 341 Scientific Prospectus, Simple Cabled Instrument for Measuring Parameters in situ (SCIMPI) and Hole 858G CORK replacement, was published Feb. 7: doi:10.2204/iodp.sp.341S.2013




Dr. Norman Guinasso (OCNG and GERG) received a contract, "2013 Supplement to Texas Automated Buoy System," for $290,000 from the Texas General Land Office. This contract provides funds to build an additional 2.25-meter buoy for the Texas Automated Buoy System (TABS). Drs. Steve DiMarco (OCNG) and John Walpert (GERG) are co-PIs. 


The researchers anticipate that this buoy will be installed next fall at a new TABS site near the shelf break south of Port Aransas and will bring the total number of TABS sites to 10.


The buoy will contain an Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler (ADCP) to allow measurements of current profiles in the water column. The contract also provides funds for an additional ADCP to be installed on an existing TABS buoy.  


Geography has recently received the following grants:


Dr. Chris Houser (GEOG) was awarded a $60,000 NSF grant for studying nearshore processes and morphological change on beaches with a specific focus on boundary conditions on the supply and transport of sediments within the swash zone. The project has a field component in Brazil.  


Dr. Michael Ewers (GEOG) received NSF funding of about $99,000 for his participation in the project, "Building Religious Epistemic Capital: Islamic Wall Streets in Malaysia and Bahrain." It is a collaborative grant between Michael and Jessie Poon at University of Buffalo. 

Dr. Christian Brannstrom (GEOG) and his co-Pi, Dr. Matt Fry, University of North Texas, received an NSF grant, "New Geographies of Shale Gas: Distance Regulation and Policy Mobilities in Texas." The study will focus on determining reasons for variation in setback distances for hydraulic fracturing in north-central Texas. Part of the data will support a future GeoX module and a future field trip for Geog 309. The budget includes funds for hiring two undergraduate researchers who will be trained in qualitative data analysis. The total grant is a little bit under $100,000.


Drs. Anthony M. FilippiBurak Güneralp (GEOG), and Dr. Lee Tarpley (Texas AgriLife Research and Extension Center, Beaumont, received funding from Ocean Optics for "Bidirectional Reflectance Distribution Function Effect on Arsenic and Water-Stress Detection in Rice." Dr. Filippi noted that these Phase I grants are issued to fund initial evaluation and development of ideas and technologies to the proof-of-concept phase. "These 10K awards help applicants design and develop new photonics technologies and applications," he said.


"To get three NSF grants, one Ocean Optics and one DDRI (Ms. Audrey Joslin) in this cycle is a major accomplishment and congratulations to all," said Dr. Vatche Tchakerian, department head. "It looks like Geography might have gotten slightly more than 12% of all NSF Geography grants in this cycle."




Dean Kate Miller has selected three students to receive the Thomas S. Gathright Academic Excellence Award. This award was established in 1973 by Texas A&M Student Government to give University-wide recognition for academic achievement of individual students. Each academic college chooses the top sophomore, junior and senior who excel academically in his or her class to receive the Gathright Award.


Recipients are Amelie Berger, sophomore in Environmental Geosciences, Cody Henry, junior in Geology and Geophysics, and Erik Nielson, senior in Meteorology. 


Geography graduate student Fiona Wilmot won two awards. She was selected as one of three Brown-Kruse Fellows for 2013-14 at the Glasscock Center for Humanities Research, and she received second place in the AAG Human Dimensions of Global Change Specialty Group Competition. She is a student of Dr. Christian Brannstrom.


Heather Lee, Geography graduate student, will travel to Chile this summer for the NSF-funded water security training institute. NSF Pan-American Studies Institutes (PASI) will financially support Heather to participate in the Training Institute on Adaptive Water-Energy Management in the Arid Americas under the auspices of the AQUASEC Center of Excellence for Water Security. She was selected to be one of 25 participants in the 10-day training session held in La Serena, Chile, this July. The overall objective is to strengthen water and energy security through joint management in the context of adaption to global change in the arid Americas. She is a student of Dr. Wendy Jepson. 




Dr. Mahlon C. Kennicutt II (OCNG)  has made five podcasts for the website The multi-part segment topics are Oil and the Environment, Antarctica and the Southern Ocean, Antarctic Treaty, Human Impact on Polar Regions, and Global Warming.


See the Geosciences Seminar site for future spring 2013 seminars.


Monday, April 1

"CO2 and HO2 on Mars: Characterizing the Carbon Cycle," Paul Niles Mars Lab NASA, 4 p.m., O&M 112. 


Tuesday, April 2

"Twomey Effect of Shallow Trade Wind Cumuli," Manfred Wendisch, University of Leipzig, 4 p.m. O&M 112.


Friday, April 5
Geosciences Scholarship Banquet. For information, contact Rachel Rodriguez (


Tuesday, April 9

"Biophysical Feedbacks in Barrier Island Transgression: Implications for Managing Change for National Seashores," Chris Houser, Texas A&M University, 4 p.m., MSC 1400.


Saturday, April 13
Parents' Weekend at Geosciences 


Tuesday, April 16

"The Surface Forcing of ATMO Aerosols: From Local Observations to Regional Circulation," Allison Steiner, University of Michigan, 4 p.m. O&M 112.


Friday, April 19

"Self-Organization of Periodic Landforms: Case Studies of Ripples/Dunes and Vegetation Bands in Dryla," Jon Pelletier, University of Arizona, 4 p.m. O&M 112.


Friday, April 26

"Decisive Places: Magnum Photos' Geographic Imagination," Steven Hoelscher, University of Texas, 4 p.m. O&M 112.

The next issue will be April 15. Please submit items of general interest to the College by April 11 to Karen Riedel.
Featured Articles

Spring Events

Grants and Funding

New Staff Members

Departments and Programs