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From the desk of Dean Kate Miller 

Dear Colleagues,
Dean Kate Miller

Summer is here, giving us an opportunity to consider and evaluate the goals for the College. We need to be constantly active in seeking opportunities to improve how we do research, how we teach and how we interact with the wider world.
With this in mind, I am involved in two efforts to gain a better understanding of how we can help our students and the community. First, I participated in a three-day workshop sponsored by InTeGrate from June 26-28 to discuss the role of our undergraduate programs in preparing our students for the world. The workshop gave important ideas describing robust employment areas for geoscience students, identifying employers' needs for geoscience students and articulating how geoscience programs strengthen students' readiness for the workforce.

Second, I am leading the effort to fully define one of the university's six Grand Challenge themes: "The Natural and Built Environment: Ensuring a Sustainable Society." In this section, we will make recommendations on the ways in which the university can best contribute  a sustainable, healthy future for human society and the environment. A workshop is being planned for late August, so keep an eye out for upcoming information on how to participate.

We also seek a critical assessment of our productivity and impact. Towards this end, we are advertising for a data analyst who will assist us in identifying how we are doing and where we need to improve.
Finally, we are in the process of setting our priorities for the Capital Campaign. In this context, we are exploring the possibility of introducing student learning centers within the College to help our students reach their potential. These centers would help students develop good study habits, manage time and write clear assignments. The centers would also provide resources for internships, study abroad and career planning.  



Best regards,


Kate Miller

Dean, College of Geosciences


College News


 Dean Kate Miller and GeoX students































GeoX comes to campus

The College hosted 20 junior and senior high school students from all over Texas and across the United States, June 7-14, in the third annual GeoX program. Organized by Director of Recruitment Dr. Sonia Garcia, the program introduced the students to the geosciences. 


Dr. Chris Houser (GEOG), faculty lead, organized faculty and graduate students from across to help the students learn about what geoscientists do and how they impact the world. In addition to classroom activities in O&M, Halbouty and Wolf Pen Creek, students visited the IODP Gulf Coast Repository, the Eddie Gray Nature Center in Baytown and BP headquarters in Houston. BP, Marathon Oil and Eddie Gray '57 helped fund the program. 


Special thanks go to the following people who helped make GeoX a success. 


Faculty members and scientists: Drs. Michael Bishop (GEOG), Kara Bogus (IODP), Don Collins (ENVP)Don Conlee (ATMO), Rick Giardino (GEPL), Chris Houser (GEOG), Denise Kulhanek (IODP), Kate Miller, Dean, Courtney Schumacher (ATMO), Debbie Thomas (OCNG)


Academic advisors: Emily Dykes (ENVP),  Missy Matthews (ATMO), Suzanne Rosser (GEOL), Gail Rowe (GEOG), Roxanna Russell (Dean's Office)


Graduate students:  Brad Weymer (GEOL), Jonathan Strand (GEOG), Ryan Arnett (GEOG)


GeoX counselors: Janet Torres, lead counselor (WMHS), Elora Arana (ENST), Pablo Banda (ENGS), Nicholas Kiker (ENGS), Melinda Nicewonger (ATMO), Florita Rodriguez (ATMO), Loes Van Dam (GEPL)  


Also thank you to Dr. Steve Johnson (MATH) for his help.  




Dr. Ping Yang



Dr. Ping Yang (ATMO) received the American Geophysical Union's 2013 Atmospheric Sciences Ascent Award for his research in transfer and remote sensing. The award recognizes Dr. Yang's excellence as a leader and researcher in Atmospheric Sciences.


It is the latest in a series of awards Dr. Yang has received for his research, dating back to 2000 when he won the award for best paper at the Climate and Radiation Branch at the NASA Goddard Flight Center, 2003 when he won an NSF CAREER Award, and 2004 when he was recognized by the college for his distinguished research. Dr. Yang will receive his award at the Atmospheric Sciences Section Banquet at the AGU fall meeting in December. He will receive a certificate and $1000 for his achievement. He is the second consecutive winner of the Ascent Award from Texas A&M. Dr. Andrew Dessler (ATMO) won the award in 2012.


Dr. John Nielsen-Gammon (ATMO) was named Outstanding Science Communicator by the Texas A&M University chapter of Sigma Xi. The award is presented annually to faculty members who demonstrate research and teaching excellence, make significant contributions to their profession and general science and exhibit superior skill and dedication in improving science education. Dr. Nielsen-Gammon won the award for his research on drought monitoring and forecasting as well as for his service as the Texas State Climatologist and writing about climate issues. The award was presented May 24 at the Sigma Xi Annual Induction and Awards Banquet.  





Dr. Steven DiMarco (OCNG) completed the 28th research trip, and the first of this season, investigating the dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico. The crew, on board R/V Manta, sampled from East Matagorda Bayto the Southwest Pass on the western side of the Mississippi delta. The project is funded by NOAA.

Participants were: research scientist Drs. Matthew Howard and Ruth Perry (OCNG); graduate students, Laura Harred, Jordan Young, Yan Zhao, Heather Zimmerle, and Nicole Zuck, and marine technicians, Eddie Webb and Andrew Dancer (GERG). On shore investigators were oceanographers Drs. Lisa Campbell, Wilford Gardner, Shari Yvon-Lewis, and Ethan Grossman (GEPL), and Antonietta Quigg (TAMUG).


For more information about the cruise, see the news story at TAMUTimes. 




Kai Gao* (GEPL) presented a poster paper at the KAUST-IAMCS Workshop on Modeling and Simulating Wave Propagation in May. The paper, "A Multiscale Method for Elastic Wave Equation Modeling," was also co-authored by Dr. Richard Gibson (GEPL), Shubin Fu, Yalchin Efendiev, and Eric Chung.


Dr. Reagan Errera (Post-doc, OCNG) and Darcie Ryan (OCNG) attended the Gordon Research seminar on Mycotoxins and Phycotoxins, June 15-16, at Stonehill College. Ryan presented "Karenia brevis reference transcriptome assembly and putative transmembrane protein discovery," while Dr. Errera served as a discussion leader. 


*graduate student




Atmospheric Sciences

Sun, B., A. Reale, S. Schroeder, D. J. Seidel, and B. Ballish, 2013: Toward improved corrections for radiation-induced biases in radiosonde temperature observations.  J. Geophys. Res. Atmos., 118, doi:10.1002/jgrd.50369.


Geology and Geophysics


Yancey, T.E., and Liu, C., 2013: 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, n. 4, p. 354-467.


Texas Sea Grant

Davis, C., J. Jacob, C. Powell, T. Sempier, R. Price, L. Bowier, D. Hwang, and D. Okimoto. Texas Homeowner's Handook to Prepare for Coastal Natural Hazards. (TAMU-SG-13-401).




Dr. David Cairns (GEOG) was elected to serve a three-year term on the Board of Directors of the Arctic Research Consortium of the United States (ARCUS). The consortium of educational and scientific institutions--including Texas A&M---has a significant commitment to Arctic research and seeks to facilitate discussion on important developments in the field.


Dr. Robert Duce (OCNG/ATMO) participated in a meeting of the Ocean Research Advisory Panel (ORAP) in Washington, D.C., May 21 and 22. The ORAP is an advisory committee under the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA) and is the only FACA body chartered to advise all ocean agencies.


Dr. Piers Chapman (OCNG) participated in a meeting between BP-funded researchers and the American Petroleum Institute to discuss his project's progress. The Center for Integrated Modeling and Analysis of the Gulf Ecosystem (C-IMAGE) organized the meeting.




Dr. Michael Tice (GEPL) is part of a team led through Rice University that won an NSF FESD grant for $4,210,000 over five years. As the Texas A&M PI, Dr. Tice received $410,991 over five years. The project, "Continent-siland arc fluctuations: linking deep Earth dynamics to long-term climate," examines linkages between deep Earth processes, tectonic cycles, climate and biogeochemical cycles in the Cretaceous. Dr. Tice and a graduate student will develop a high resolution record of volcanic ash input and carbon burial in the southern Western Interior Seaway in order to test for connections between arc volcanism and carbon burial.




Jeremy Johnson (GEOG) was awarded an NSF DDRI grant for his proposal, "Doctoral Dissertation Research: A Genetic Approach to Dispersal at the Alpine Treeline Ecotene." 


Allison Myers-Pigg (OCNG-TAMUG) won the Chateaubriand Scholarship to study at the Polytechnic Institute in Toulouse, one of the premier polytechnic institutes in France. The Chateaubriand Scholarship is awarded each year by the government of France to approximately 40 Ph.D. students across all disciplines at American universities who wish to study for up to nine months at a university in France. Allison will be in Toulouse for five months.


Alicia Shepard (OCNG) was one of 21 students in the Texas A&M University System to receive a grant from the new Texas Sea Grant Grants-in-Aid of Graduate Research Program. The program gave out a total of $30,000 in grants to doctoral students whose marine- and coastal-related research is relevant to Texas.


The students in Wendy Jepson's (GEOG) Geography 430: Environmental Justice class developed and maintained a blog on the course throughout the spring semester. The blog discusses the impact of environmental issues on local communities and how local communities have responded to issues such as the Keystone XL pipeline. It is part of an initiative to commit to communicate about social justice issues.


Dehen Zhou (GEPL) received the 2013-2014 Texas A&M Energy Institute ConocoPhillips Fellowship.




Drs. Chris Houser and Christian Brannstrom's (GEOG) research on rip currents and the ability of beach goers to identify those currents was profiled on the website of NOAA's Office for Oceanic and Atmospheric Research. The project surveyed beach goers in Galveston, Port Aransas and Corpus Christi to see if they could identify the most dangerous waters for rip currents and the rip currents themselves. While beach goers were adept at finding the most dangerous waters, they had difficulty identifying the currents. Dr. Houser and Dr. Brannstrom hope to use the data to make informative warning signs.


Texas A&M University recently released a video featuring Texas Sea Grant's regional project to develop a hurricane surge model that accounts for sea level rise. It is one of five projects featured by the university focusing on how Texas A&M is improving water.


Dr. Steve Quiring (GEOG) was on the Weather Channel's Secrets of the Earth series, discussing the nature of rain. The trailer for the episode can be found on the Weather Channel website.


Dr. Mahlon Kennicutt (OCNG) discussed the role of horizon scans in directing future Antarctic research on the Nature News Blog. Scientists submit questions to be considered for research and a committee of researchers determine which ones can most compellingly be answered by Antarctic research. The best 100 or fewer questions will become the focus of Antarctic research to be developed over the next two decades.


Dr. Mona Behl (Texas Sea Grant) was profiled in the magazine

Oceanography. In the profile, she discusses her education as an oceanographer and how she came to do research at Texas Sea Grant. 

The next issue will be in July. Please submit items of general interest to the College to Karen Riedel.
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