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From the desk of Dean Kate Miller 
April 2013

  Dean Kate Miller

Dear Colleagues,

The academic year is accelerating to a close and, I am pleased to report, both the accomplishments and landmarks for our College have been accelerating as well.

We are excited to report that the 

College of Geoscience Undergraduate Recruitment Team (URT) was selected to receive the 2013 Texas A&M Team Diversity Service Award. More about this university-wide award can be found in the College News section below. Please join me in celebrating our URT's contributions at the Diversity Awards Ceremony at 2 p.m., April 24 in in room 2300 A&B of the Memorial Student Center.

Recently, President Loftin notified me that he will allocate an additional $2 million to upgrading university supercomputing capacity as a result of a long-standing effort on the part of the college to to make a quantum leap in our capacity to interact with the energy industry through research and education in computational geophysics. For about a year-and-half now, the College and the department of Geology and Geophysics, with significant engagement from Chevron and Pierce Cantrell, vice president and associate provost for information technology, have been working to develop a roadmap for next-generation high performance computing in the Geosciences at Texas A&M. The plan is designed to benefit all supercomputer users across campus, with our College to receive a relative priority proportional to our success in fundraising with energy companies. Lee Panetta, professor of atmospheric sciences and chair of the Texas A&M Supercomputing Facility Steering Committee, has been particularly helpful in bridging between College priorities and other supercomputer users on campus. For additional information, contact Jack Baldauf.

Our College Advisory Council met on April 5 in conjunction with our annual scholarship dinner. We welcomed Bill Read '71, retired director of the U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC) and currently serving as hurricane expert for KPRC-TV Houston, as a new member. Highlights of the meeting included a presentation by Michael Bishop, professor of geography on that department's ambitious plans for expanding Geographic Information Science and Technology at Texas A&M as well as presentations from our student leaders about the myriad professional activities they pursue through geoscience student organizations. Rick Giardino told the group about geology programs in Costa Rica and at the Texas A&M center in Mexico, an AGI proposal for Geosciences Without Borders, and other initiatives in Geology and Geophysics. In addition, Sarah Bednarz and Jack Baldauf updated the council on our academic and research initiatives. A significant portion of the meeting was devoted to engaging council member in helping us set fund raising priorities for the upcoming Capital Campaign.

Finally, don't forget to mark your calendars for the College of Geosciences graduation reception at 9 a.m., May 10, in Halbouty 101, followed by our university commencement ceremony at 2 p.m. in Reed Arena.

Have a great week,
Kate Miller
Dean, College of Geosciences 

College News


Undergraduate Recruitment Team receives Diversity Award


The College of Geosciences Undergraduate Recruitment Team (URT) received the 2013 Team Diversity Service Award. The Diversity Awards ceremony is 2 p.m., April 24, in the Memorial Student Center 2300 A&B.
Geosciences' Undergraduate Recruitment Team (URT) helps recruit high school students and supports retention, particularly among diverse students. "Since its inception in 2009," Dr. Sonia Garcia said, "URT students have completed more than 700 hours of volunteer work each year." Dr. Garcia is director of undergraduate recruitment and advisor to the URT team. Janet Torres (WMHS) is the graduate assistant.


Volunteer activities include calling admitted and prospective Geosciences students, especially from under-represented groups. They also help with weekend recruitment programs, host prospective students and their families, encourage minority students to become geoscientists or other STEM fields, help guide juniors and seniors duringthe iGeo and GeoX programs, mentor incoming freshmen to help with the transition into college and serve as panelists at Aggieland Saturday and recruitment events.   
"URT students are selfless, hard-working Aggies who are committed to Texas A&M and the College of Geosciences, ensuring that our college is at the forefront both academically and ethnically," Dr. Garcia said.
Twenty-seven students representing all four departments and the Environmental Geosciences program comprise the team for 2013. 


Atmospheric Sciences professor receives
the SEC Faculty Achievement Award 


Dr. John Nielsen-Gammon (ATMO) has been named Texas A&M's inaugural recipient of the Southeastern Conference's Faculty Achievement Award. Dr. Nielsen-Gammon will represent Texas A&M along with the professors from the other 13 conference universities. The SEC Faculty Achievement Awards honor professors with outstanding records in teaching and scholarship who serve as role models for other faculty and students. Each university, based on the Provost's recommendation, selects its SEC Faculty Achievement Award winner. The SEC Professor the Year Award will be selected from the 14 nominees and announced April 24.  


G&G students win regional Imperial Barrel Award  


A team from Texas A&M won first place in the Imperial Barrel Award (IBA) regional contest, qualifying them for global competition. The team comprises graduate students from the Department of Geology and Geophysics. Texas A&M competed against eight other schools in the Gulf Coast region for the honor, and the students will compete internationally at the AAPG convention in Pittsburgh in May. Dr. Yuefeng Sun is the faculty advisor. 


More about the team win can be found on GeoNews.  


barrell award
From left: Ilaan Shtaygrud, Robert Schelstrate, David Tilghman, Mitch Blakeley, and Dr. Yuefeng Sun


Welcome reception for GERG Director Tony knap

The College of Geosciences will hold a reception from 3:30 to 5 p.m., Tuesday, April 23, at GERG to meet the new GERG director, Dr. Tony Knap. Contact Sandra Dunham for more details on the event or to RSVP. More information on Dr. Knap can be found here.  



Professional Activities




Geosciences' students have a banner year

Several students have recently been honored and awarded for outstanding work. In addition to the Geology and Geophysics students mentioned above, the College has also been notified of several other honors. 


Two students, Christopher Labosier (GEOG) and Justin Stachnik (ATMO), have been awarded the prestigious Gramm Fellow designation. They were two out of the 10 selected campuswide. Labosier's advisor is Dr. Steven Quiring, and Stachnik studied under Dr. Courtney Schumacher. Labosier is the their Geography student in a row to receive this designation. 


Audrey Joslin has been awarded an NSF Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement (DDRI) grant to continue her studies of watershed conservation in Ecuador. She is a student of Dr. Wendy Jepson. Joslin is the sixth geography student to receive a DDRI since 2006. 


Dr. Kathleen O'Reilly (GEOG) announced that her post-doctoral student, Dr. Elizabeth (Cedar) Louis won the student paper award in the Cultural and Political Geography division at The Association of American Geographers (AAG). She presented on her dissertation fieldwork about food sovereignty in the rural Telangana region of India. Dr. Louis is part of Dr. O'Reilly's Gates Foundation grant.   


Graduate student Christy Swann (GEOG) received the student paper award for the Geomorphology Special Group section at AAG. She presented findings from her field experiment in Jericoacoara, Brazil, which was designed to separate the fluid and dynamic thresholds of aeolian sediment transport.  More importantly, she presented her successful design for a bedload trap to separate bedload from saltation transport. The abstract is on the AAG program.  




Dr. Robert Duce (OCNG/ATMO) participated in a meeting of the Scientific Steering Committee of the National Science Foundation's GEOTRACES program, March I3-15, at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Va. GEOTRACES is an international program that aims to improve the understanding of bieogeochemical cycles and large-scale distribution of trace elements and their isotopes in marine environments.  


Dr. Duce chaired a meeting of the National Academy of Sciences' Ocean Studies Board in Washington, D.C. He also presided over the National Academies' 14th Annual Roger Revelle Lecture, presented by Dr. John Walsh from the University of Alaska, at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington. 


Dr. Duce participated in a review of the School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology at the University of Hawaii, April 15-19. 


Dr. Bruce Herbert (GEPL) was part of panel featured at the the National Research Council's (NRC) half-day symposium on the NRC report Improving Undergraduate Science and Engineering Education: The Role of Discipline-Based Education Research. The event featured a keynote address by Tobin Smith of the Association of American Universities, and panel discussions related to the major sections of the report:
  • The implications of DBER and related research for improving science and engineering education.
  • Promoting research-based instructional practices in undergraduate science and engineering.
  • Advancing DBER as a field of inquiry. 
Participants included discipline-based education researchers and representatives from government agencies, private foundations, disciplinary societies in the sciences, and higher education organizations. Click here for the agenda and video recording of the event. 



Dr. Rick Giardino (GEPL) has received an additional $1.3 million grant from NASA to manage Space Explorers Academy. This program provides upper-level undergraduate and first-year graduate students with cutting-edge research opportunities with NASA scientists, engineers, and educators.


Dr. Giardino and his team will also manage the HUNCH (High school Students United with NASA to Create Hardware) program, which is an innovative school-based program that partners NASA Johnson Space Center and Marshall Space Fight Center with high schools and middle schools in states across the nation. The students receive hands-on experiences in developing training hardware for the International Space Station Astronaut crew members.  



South-Central Section 47th Annual Meeting  

The College was well represented at the GSA South-Central-Section 47th Annual Meeting, April 4-5, in Austin, Texas, with representatives from oceanography, geography, and geology and geophysics departments participating in multiple sessions.


Zuck, Nicole A.* (OCNG, presenter), Cochran, Emma (OCNG), Gardner, Wilford D. (OCNG), Richardson, Mary Jo (OCNG/GEPL), Dimarco, Steve F. (OCNG): "Particulate Matter and Hypoxia on Texas/Louisiana Shelf During Summer, 2012."

Richardson, Mary Jo (OCNG/GEPL), Gardner, Wilford D. (OCNG): 
"High Impact Educational Practices: Geoscience Field-Based Learning During a Texas A&M Study Abroad Semester in Italy."

Miller, Kate C., Ellins, Katherine K., Riggs, Eric M., Bednarz, Sarah W., Mosher, Sharon, Richardson, Mary Jo (presenter): "Dig Texas: An Alliance to Promote the Geosciences and Diversify its Workforce."

Miller, Kate C., Ellins, Katherine K. Riggs, Eric M., Mosher, Sharon: "Dig Texas Instructional Blueprints for Teaching Earth and Space Science."

Pertermann, Dana L.* (GEPL): "The Effects of Iron Degradation on Electromagnetic Geophysical Signatures and Detectability of Corroded Iron Products."


Ahmad, Shan*: "Cenozoic Dust Accumulation in the South Pacific Recorded at IODP Site U1369."


Pekowski, Andrew* (GEPL), Thomas, Deborah (OCNG/GEPL): "Cenozoic Dust Accumulation in the South Pacific from 232th Analyses of IODP Site U1371."


Musgrove, Amanda* (GEPL), Thomas, Deborah J. (OCNG/GEPL): "Neogene Evolution of Atlantic Deep-Ocean Circulation from Walvis Ridge ODP Sites 1262 and 1264."


Tilghman, David S. (GEPL); "Late Cenomanian-Early Turonian Reconstruction of Intermediate-and Deep-Water Circulation in the Proto-Indian Ocean."


Irham, Muhammad* (GEPL), Giardino, John R. (GEPL): "Two Dimensional Morphological Dynamic Modeling of a Complex Fluvial System: The Spatial Distribution of the Bed Sediment of the Brazos River, Texas." 


Lee, Adam A.* (GEPL), Giardino, John R. (GEPL): "Evolution of Oxbow Lakes along the Brazos River, Texas."


Weymer, Bradley A.* (GEPL), Giardino, John R. (GEPL): "Profile Sequence and Sediment Distribution of an Embayed Beach: Freshwater Beach Queensland, Australia." 


Tilghman, Katherine A. (GEPL), Miller, Brent V. (GEPL): "Topping off the Capstone- Detrital Zircon Ages from Metasedimentary Rocks Associated with Archean Gneisses, Southwest Montana."


Nguyen, Stephen (GEPL), Miller, Brent V. (GEPL): "Topping off the Capstone- Zircon, Monazite, and Titanite Ages from Two Generations of Dikes, Highland Mountains Gneiss Complex, Southwest Montana."


Price, Amy E.* (GEPL): "Comparing Effluent Quality Across Municipal and On-Site Wastewater Treatment Systems."


Houser, Chris (GEOG), Weymer, Bradley A.* (GEPL); Jewell, Mallorie Elizabeth* (GEOG), Rentschlar, Elizabeth* (GEOG): "Geologic Framework Controls on Island Response to and Recovery from Extreme Storms."


Schroeder, Carolyn, Giardino, Rick (GEPL), Vitek, John D. (GEPL), Gamache, Kevin R.* (WMHS): "G-Camp: A New Approach to Bringing Earth Science Comprehension to Classroom Teachers."


Van Winkle, R. Scott* (GEPL), Pope, Michael C. (GEPL), Giardino, John R. (GEPL): "G-Camp for Students: A Unique Approach to Teaching First-Year Geology."


Aydin, Tuba* (GEPL), Yancey, Thomas E. (GEPL): "Dinoflagellate Cyst Palynofacies and Paleoenvironmental Analysis of the Maastrichtian and Basal Danian, Brazos River Section, Texas."


Heintz, Mindi L.* (GEPL), Yancey, Thomas E., Miller, Brent V., (GEPL), Grigsby, Jeffry D.: "Geochemical Characterization of Eocene and Oligocene Volcanic Ashes of East and Central Texas."


Mohamed, Ahmed* (GEPL), Sparks, David W. (GEPL), Zhan, Hongbin (GEPL): "Approximate Solutions for Pressure Build-Up During CO2 Geo-Sequestration in Brine Aquifers." 


Proffitt, Tiffany Ainsley* (GEPL) and Giardino, John R. (GEPL): "Development of a New Geothermal Database for the Illinois Basin."


Dr. Sonia Garcia (Recruitment): "Broadening the Participation of the Next Generation of Underrepresented Students in Geosciences."


Other recent presentations 

Dr. Chris Houser (GEOG) presented "Biophysical Feedbacks in Barrier Island Transgression: Implications for Managing Change in the National Seashores," April 9, as part of the Texas A&M Applied Biodiversity Science NSF-IGERT Program. Houser is the newest member of the biodiversity program.   


Dr. Sonia Garcia (Recruitment) was a presenter for the Professional Hispanic Network's Storytelling: Stories of Identity During a Particular Moment in Time. The panel presentation was April 10 in Rudder Tower.




Drs. Robert Hetland and Xiaoqian Zhang (OCNG) have two papers accepted for publication. The first paper focuses on the skill assessment of a model of the Texas-Louisiana shelf, nested in a variety of parent models using hydrographic salinity data. The second paper focuses on the development of the oil spill modeling and forecast using the combination of the operational hydrodynamic model and General NOAA Operational Modeling Environment (GNOME).  


Martinho Marta-Almeida, R. D. Hetland, and X. Zhang (OCNG): Evaluation of model nesting performance on the Texas-Louisiana continental shelf. Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans, in press. 


Marta-Almeida, M., M. Ruiz-Villarreal, J. Pereira, P. Otero, M. Cirano, X. Zhang, and R.D. Hetland: Efficient tools for marine operational forecast and oil spill tracking. Marine Pollution Bulletin, in press. 


Dr. Mark E. Everett (GEPL) recently published the book, Near-Surface Applied Geophysics (Cambridge Press)and an article, Electrical Resistivity Imaging of Unknown Bridge Foundations. The book is set to appear in press May 2013, while the article was accepted into Near-Surface Geophysics, April 2013.  


Dr. Thomas Yancy (GEPL) has two publications:

Yancey, T.E., Dunham, A. and Durney, K.: Depositional history of the upper Calvert Bluff and lower Carrizo formations, Bastrop, Texas, in Hunt, B.B., ed., Geological Society of America Field Guide 30, pp. 43-52

Yancey, T.E. and Liu, C., Impact-induced sediment deposition on an offshore, mud substrate continental shelf, Cretaceous-Paleogene boundary, Brazos River, Texas, U.S.A.; Journal of Sedimentary Research, v. 83, 3, pp. 1-14 


Dr. Hongbin Zhan (GEOG) has three articles recently published. 

Gao, G., Fu, B., Zhan, H., and Ma, Y., Contaminant transport in soil with depth-dependent reaction coefficients and time-dependent boundary conditions, Water Research, 47(7), 2507-2522, 2013.

You, K. and Zhan, H., New solutions for solute transport in a finite column with distance-dependent dispersivities and time-dependent solute sources, Journal of Hydrology, 487, 87-97, 2013.

You, K. and Zhan, H., New solutions for solute transport in a finite column with distance-dependent dispersivities and time-dependent solute sources, Journal of Hydrology, 487, 87-97, 2013. 


Drs. Caleb W. Holyoke, Andreas K. Kronenberg, and Julie Newman (GEPL) published: Dislocation creep of polycrystalline dolomite, Tectonophysics v. 590, 1 April 2013, pp. 72-82.


Drs. Ajay Singh, Franco Marcantonio, Mitch Lyle (GEPL) published:
Singh, A.K, Marcantonio, F., Lyle, M: Dissolved 230Th-232Th Dynamics in the Eastern Tropical Pacific Ocean, Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 362, 294-304. 


Dr. Duan Liu (GERG) is an author on the following publication in Proteome Science: Qin, J., F. Gu, D. Liu, C. Yin, S. Zhao, H. Chen, J. Zhang, C. Yang, X. Zhan and M. Zhang, 2013. Proteomic analysis of elite soybean Jidou17 and its parents using iTRAQ-based quantitative approaches. Proteome Science 11 (12):1-11. 


The following from OCNG and GEPL recently published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

Bianchi, T.S., Garcia-Tigreros*, F., Yvon-Lewis, S., Shields*, M., Mills, H.J., Butman, D., Osburn, C., Raymond, P., Shank, C., DiMarco, S.F., Walker, N., Reese*, B., Mullins*, R., Quigg, A., Aiken, G.R., Grossman, E.L. . Enhanced transfer of terrestrially-derived carbon to the atmosphere in a flooding event, Geophysical Research Letters, v. 

40, p. 1-7, doi:10.1029/2012GL054145. 


The following publications are from GEPL.

Lin, W., M. Conin, J.C. Moore, F. M. Chester, et al. (2013), Stress state in the largest displacement area of the 2011 Tohoku- Oki Earthquake, Science, 339, 687-690, doi:10.1126/science.1229379 

Tao, K.*,* O'Dea, A., Grossman, E.L., and Robbins, J.A. 2013. Quantifying upwelling and freshening in nearshore tropical environments using stable isotopes in modern Tropical American mollusks. Bull. Marine Science (in press).

Henkes, G.A.*, Passey, B.H., Wanamaker, A.D, Grossman, E.L., Ambrose, W.G., and Carroll, M.L., 2013. Carbonate clumped isotope compositions of modern marine mollusk and brachiopod shells. Geochim. Cosmochim. Acta, v.106 , p. 307-325.  

Woodard, S.C.*, Thomas, D.J., Grossman, E.L., Olszewski, T.D., Yancey, T.E., Raymond, A., and Miller, B.V. (GEPL). Radiogenic isotope composition of Carboniferous seawater from North American epicontinental seas. Palaeogeog., Palaeoclim., Palaeoecol., v. 370, p. 51-63.

Wenwu He*, David Sparks, and Andrew Hajash (GEPL), Reactive transport at stressed grain contact and creep compaction of quartz sand, Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth, vol. 118, 1-14, doi:10.1002/jgrb.50064, 2013

Gao, G., Fu, B., Zhan, H., and Ma, Y., Contaminant transport in soil with depth-dependent reaction coefficients and time-dependent boundary conditions, Water Research, 47(7), 2507-2522, 2013.
You, K. and Zhan, H., New solutions for solute transport in a finite column with distance-dependent dispersivities and time-dependent solute sources, Journal of Hydrology, 487, 87-97, 2013.
You, K. and Zhan, H., New solutions for solute transport in a finite column with distance-dependent dispersivities and time-dependent solute sources, Journal of Hydrology, 487, 87-97, 2013. 


*student or recent former student




Dr. Bruce Herbert (GEPL) toured the Smectite Mines operated by Southern Bruce Herbert Clay products in Gonzales. He was a guest of Charles Smith, mining and exploration manager. The smectite mine yields is a special low-Fe bearing smectite that formed down dip of volcanic ash found in the Jackson group. The smectite is used to make different types of organoclays.

Dr. Herbert related that "Charles is a graduate of the geology program at the University of Texas. So when he handed me a pink hard hat, I questioned whether this is some UT teasing of Texas A&M (which of course it was). I answered that I felt secure wearing a pink hard hat, especially since Texas A&M is doing so well in the SEC, and we have Johnny football. That seemed to end the discussion." 





Texas Sea Grant Scholars Cyrenea Millberry, a senior at Texas A&M University, and the team of Josh Carter and Raven Walker, both seniors at Texas A&M University at Galveston (TAMUG), will represent their respective campuses at Texas Undergraduate Research Day at the state capitol in Austin on April 26.  


The event is designed to showcase the research experiences of undergraduate students for Texas legislators and the public through poster displays.   


Millberry, with guidance from Dr. Masami Fujiwara in Wildlife and Fisheries Science, looked at how river discharges and tidal fluctuations affected commercially valuable shrimp populations, particularly juvenile shrimp, in Texas estuaries.

Carter and Walker, working with Dr. Glenn Jones, used the economics principle of supply and demand and "Ephemera" like newspaper ads and restaurant menus to infer the health of commercially valuable species around Chesapeake Bay through a timeline of their prices going back to 1850. They found that the price for most of the species rose faster than the rate of inflation, indicating that these populations were in decline long before official government records began in 1950.   




Aggie Storm Chasers Ready to Track Tornadoes 

The Texas Aggie Storm Chasers is believed to be the only student-run storm chasing team in the state. See the full story here


See the Geosciences Seminar site for future spring 2013 seminars.


Tuesday, April 16

"The Surface Forcing of Atmospheric Aerosols: From Local Observations to Regional Circulations," 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 19

"Do Birds Matter? A 'Natural' Experiment Demonstrates the Ecological Functions Provided by Birds," Haldre Rodgers, Rice University, 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.


Friday, May 10

Graduation Awards Ceremony and Reception, 9 a.m., Halbouty Lobby and auditorium. 

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

Diversity Awards

AGI reports

Student honors

Departments and Programs