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From the desk of Dean Kate Miller 

Dear Colleagues,

Dean Kate Miller
I am writing to you from the lower 'tween deck of JOIDES Resolution, which is currently docked in Valdez, Alaska, for port call between Expedition 341: Southern Alaskan Margin and Expedition 346: Asian Monsoon. Yesterday, I met with the co-chiefs of Expedition 341, John Jaeger and Sean Gulick, both of whom were highly complimentary of the hard work and solutions-oriented attitude of all of our IODP staff members on board. We gave the off-going crew a hardy sendoff last night. Today, we are offloading core and bringing on new supplies. We are looking forward to the arrival of the new science party tomorrow afternoon. There is nothing like visiting the ship to truly appreciate the depth and complexity of the work our IODP staff undertakes to deliver a first-class product for the international science community. An important information item requesting the launch of the new International Ocean Discovery Program will be presented to the National Science Board on August 15, by NSF officials. Keep your fingers crossed!

Last week, department heads, staff advisors, and faculty assessment liaisons from across the College gathered for a productive half-day workshop on improving our assessment of student learning outcomes that Sarah Bednarz led and that I also attended. The goals of the workshop were to finds ways that each department can better integrate its learning assessments with the university learning outcomes, and quality enhancement plan. Our assessments are answering some of the most important questions a university faculty member can ask: "Are my students really learning what I want them to learn so that they will be successful?" And: "What do I need to change to help my students to be the best that they can be?" Whereas this process is intrinsically the responsibility of all faculty members, the lively debate at the workshop showed that our department heads, staff advisors, and faculty assessment liaisons are ready and able to lead the charge.

Have you come across the two NSF-sponsored Research Experience for Undergraduate (REU) programs that our faculty are running this summer? The Costa Rica REU, headed by Chris Houser, is in its third year. It focuses on the ecohydrology of a tropical montane cloud forest. Seven students from around the country plus our own Amelia Berger from Environmental Geosciences spent time on campus and at the Soltis Center in Costa Rica. Also participating are Oliver Frauenfeld, Anita Rapp, Steve Quiring, and Andrea Dumont from Engineering.

The Atmospheric Sciences REU is off to a good start with its first-year session winding down. The program focuses on atmospheric science in the Gulf Coast region. Ten students participated from around the country. Ken Bowman is PI, and Don Conlee is site program director and faculty mentor. Other faculty mentors are Sarah Brooks, Don Collins, Craig Epifanio, Rob Korty, Mark Lemmon, Shaima Nasiri, John Nielsen-Gammon, Richard Orville, Anita Rapp, R. Saravanan, Gunnar Schade, Courtney Schumacher, and Istvan Szunyogh. 

Thanks and congratulations to everyone participating in these programs. Not only do the programs provide outstanding opportunities to integrate research and education, they showcase our programs and graduate opportunities to some of the most highly competitive undergraduates from around the country. 

Best regards,


Kate Miller

Dean, College of Geosciences


College News



In honor of Gig'em week, the College of Geosciences is hosting Geosfest from 2 to 4 p.m., Aug. 24, on the O&M lawn. The festivities will include ice cream, music, and an opportunity for new students to mix and mingle with faculty. All faculty and staff are welcome.


RSVP at or In case of rain, Geosfest will take place in the O&M lobby. 


2013 Freshman Seminar Courses 
The College of Geosciences is adding a creative flair to 10 freshman seminar courses this fall. Students can get lost in the ocean environment with Dori from Finding Nemo, discover the Hollywood of geosciences, and determine how weather can affect an athlete's performance. For a list of the courses, see the article on GeoNews




Where in the World?

Dillon Amaya


Where in the world is Carmen Miranda . . . and Dillon, and Rachele, and Nancy? Find out on our Aggie world map.

From Costa Rica to Iceland, Texas A&M students from the College of Geosciences take to land and sea to expand their research skills, experience new cultures and learn about global issues. Find out
where in the world Aggies can go with geosciences. 
University News


University Holidays for 2013-14
The Texas A&M System Board of Regents has approved the following schedule for University holidays for Texas A&M for fiscal year 2014.
* Thanksgiving: November 28-29, 2013
* Winter Break: December 23, 2013-January 1, 2014
* Martin Luther King, Jr. Day: January 20, 2014
* Spring Break: March 13-14, 2014
* Memorial Day: May 26, 2014
* Independence Day: July 4, 2014





Dr. Brendan Roark (GEOG) participated in the NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research cruises as part of the Northeast U.S. Canyons Expedition. Dr. Roark conducted exploratory investigations on the diversity and distribution of deep-sea habitats and marine life along the Northeast U.S. Canyons and at Mytilus Seamount on the NOAA ship Okeanos Explorer.


Scientists and technicians from Oceanography, GERG, and Texas A&M Galveston tested two Slocum Gliders, June 28, in the Gulf of Mexico. For more about the story and a video of the successful launch, see the article in GeoNews.  


Drs. Piers Chapman (OCNG) and Ethan Grossman (GEPL) visited NASA's Johnson Space Center July 10 to talk with Michael Evans, planetary scientist and former student of Chapman, and his mentor, Paul Niles. On their visit, they were able to see moon rocks and space dust. 

From left: Dr. Ethan Grossman, Paul Niles, Michael Evans, and Dr. Piers Chapman at NASA's historic mission control.

Jennifer Hertzberg, a graduate student in Dr. Matthew Schmidt's (OCNG) paleo lab, is sailing Aug. 1-22 on R/V Ron Brown from Reykjavik, Iceland, to Funchal, Portugal, on the A16N line as part of the GO-SHIP/CO2 Repeat Hydrography Cruise. Follow the ship track here.  




Dr. Ethan Grossman (GEPL) presented an invited keynote address, "The future of sclerochronology-constraining under-constrained systems," at the 3rd International Sclerochronology Conference in Caernarvon, Wales, in May. 


As part of his Faculty Development Leave, Dr. Achim Stoessel (OCNG) visited the Universite Catholique de Louvain (UCL) in Belgium, the Institut Pierre-Simon Laplace (IPSL) in Paris, and the Eidgenoessische Technische Hochschule (ETH) in Zurich, in March. Since April, he has been at the Max Planck Institute (MPI) for Meteorology to identify the reasons for improved simulations of the Southern Ocean in coupled versus uncoupled climate models. All visits included seminar presentations on this topic. 






Dr. Ken Bowman (ATMO) et al. have published an article in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society that proposes better cooperation between modelers and operational weather forecasting systems. The article is also featured on the editorial page.   

Bowman, Kenneth P., John C. Lin, Andreas Stohl, Roland Draxler, Paul Konopka, Arlyn Andrews, Dominik Brunner, 2013: Input Data Requirements Lagrangian Trajectory Models. Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc., 94, 1051-1058.


T.C. Malone, P.M. DiGiacomo, E. Gonvalves, A.H. Knap, L. Talue-McManus, S. de Mora (2013), A global ocean observing system framework for sustainable development, Marine Policy, 42, 1-11.



Yancey, T.E., Mustoe, G.E., Leopold, E.G., and Heizler, M.T., 2013, Mudflow disturbance in latest Miocene forests in Lewis County, Washington; Palaios, v. 28,p. 343-358 





Dr. Piers Chapman (OCNG) attended the University of Texas Marine Science Institute in Port Aransas, Texas, July 16, for a meeting about the RESTORE Act that is said to bring hundreds of millions of dollars to Texas as a result of fines levied on BP following the 2010 Deepwater Horizon blowout. 


Dr. Tony Knap attended the annual meeting of the Texas Coastal Ocean Observing Network, July 18, in Austin. Knap discussed ways to better integrate ocean-observing assets into a cooperative program. 




Drs. Daniel Goldberg (GEOG) and Chris Houser (GEOG) received funding from the Innovation Fund for Global Education for their projects in Australia and Costa Rica respectively. The fund seeks to encourage new ideas in how to engage students in experiences beyond the College Station campus. Dr. Goldberg's project will create a new graduate and undergraduate course on GIS programming that includes a post-course field trip to Australia. Dr. Houser's project will develop a new international field experience in Costa Rica for an on-campus course that requires field experience. 


Texas Sea Grant, in partnership with the Texas General Land Office,has produced English and Spanish versions of the Texas Homeowner's Handbook to Prepare for Coastal Natural Hazards.

Both are available on the Texas Sea Grant website.

Sea Grant also has available other hurricane preparedness publications.





Laura Graniero (GEPL) won a Short Term Fellowship from the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) for her study, "Nitrogen isotopes as indicators of wastewater nitrate in coastal ecosystems in Bocas del Toro, Panama." Working with Aaron O'Dea of STRI and her advisor, Dr. Ethan Grossman (GEPL), Graniero began her research in Panama on July 1 and will return August 16 after completing her laboratory and fieldwork. Field work will take place July 18-26. 


Chris Labosier (GEOG) has received a Texas A&M University Dissertation Fellowship for the 2013-14 academic year. The $15,000 fellowship supports Ph.D. students who are in the final stage of writing their dissertation.  


Ben Skrla (GEPL) made the all-SEC Honor Role for his performance in the spring 2013 semester. Click here for a more detailed list of high-achieveing student-athletes.




Texas A&M was noted by the American Geosciences Institute for the number of geoscience students who transfer to the university from Texas community colleges. Texas A&M leads all public universities with students coming from 32 community colleges. 


Dr. Steve DiMarco (OCNG) has been featured in several stories regarding this year's hypoxia formation in the Gulf of Mexico. In his latest cruise off the Texas-Louisiana coast at the end of June, Dr. DiMarco found large pockets of oxygen-depleted water, or "dead zones," at the mouth of the Mississippi and off the coast of Galveston Island. The area of the hypoxia covers approximately 3100 square miles, an area double the size of Rhode Island. According to NOAA, these findings were expected in a summer that may produce the largest dead zone on record. 


Dr. John Nielsen-Gammon (ATMO) and the study he co-authored on the effects of climate change on the 2011 Texas drought in the Journal of Climate were featured in USA Today's series on how climate change is affecting Americans


Dr. Richard Orville (ATMO) has been featured in several news outlets, including the Wall Street Journal, for his overhaul of the Lightning Mapping Array (LMA), a system that detects lightning strikes in the Houston area. 


Dr. Richard Orville (ATMO) was interviewed by an AP reporter on the danger of lighting strikes. This story, Being Outdoors Perilous During Thunderstorms, appeared in over 150 publications including ABC News, Houston Chronicle, and Fort Worth Star Telegram.


Dr. John Nielsen-Gammon was featured in Popular Mechanics for his story on the strange weather patterns we have been experiencing lately. 


The next issue will be in August. Please submit items of general interest to the College to Karen Riedel. To help ensure inclusion, use Dean's Briefing in the subject line.

Each fall the Association of Former Students honors faculty members for their dedication to teaching. The college-level Distinguished Teaching Awards include a $2,000 honorarium. Read about this year's recipients by clicking on their names below. 

For past recipients, see GeoStars. 

Dr. Oliver Frauenfeld has been named a Montgue Scholar-Center for Teaching Excellence. Scholars are selected from tenure-track faculty, one from each college, based on their early ability and dedication to teaching. 


Texas A&M Geosciences Glider Launch
Texas A&M Geosciences Glider Launch