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DEAN'S BRIEFING
August 2013

Mars rover
Eclipses of the sun and the moon 
from Mars

Curiosity's camera photographed both lunar and solar eclipses from Mars this month. Dr. Mark Lemmon is co-investigator for Curiosity's Mastcam.

In This Issue
Dear Colleagues,

Welcome all to the fall 2013 semester. As goes the University, so too goes the College of Geosciences with record enrollments for the fall semester. Overall student enrollment is up to 1,127 compared to 1,047 last year. We have a projected 209 freshmen up from 161 last year. New graduate student enrollment, however, declined nearly 21%. The largest single increase in an undergraduate major goes to Geology, up nearly 60%.The most popular majors for undergraduate transfer students were Meteorology and Geophysics. Many thanks and congratulations to the members of our College who have helped recruit and enroll these students, especially Sonia Garcia, Director of Recruitment, all of our academic advisors, and our faculty graduate and undergraduate directors.Your strong effort is evident.

Last week, our College played a central role in a two-day workshop on "The Natural and Built Environment: Ensuring a Sustainable Society" attended by 33 faculty and administrators from across the university. This topic is one of six "grand challenges" that Texas A&M is focusing on. The purpose of the session was to begin to shape a vision for how Texas A&M helps meet the challenge of ensuring a healthy, sustainable life for all. As the state's land grant institution, Texas A&M is the natural leader for the state in protecting natural resources, advancing our understanding of Earth systems, and linking sustainable infrastructures with government and business practices. Attendees from the College were Jack Baldauf, Michael Bishop, Christian Brannstrom, David Cairns, Steve DiMarco, Wendy Jepson, Ron Kaiser, John Nielsen-Gammon, Antonietta Quigg, and Vatche Tchakerian. During the workshop a number of creative ideas surfaced for transdisciplinary research projects, educational programs, and public outreach, as well as ways to successfully structure the initiative. As the organizer of the workshop, I will be telling you more about the plans we are developing and the opportunities members of our College will have under the umbrella of this University-wide Grand Challenge.

I am also pleased to announce that the Geography Department and the Water Management and Hydrological Science Program are in the process of renewing their memorandum of understanding. Geography has generously provided space and administrative support to these programs for a number of years now, and I am glad to see this relationship continue. We are proud to serve as the lead College for this interdisciplinary graduate program that also involves the Colleges of Agricultural and Life Sciences, Engineering, and Science.
Regards,

Kate Miller
Dean, College of Geosciences
College News

State Employee Charitable Campaign
September 1 marks the start of the annual State Employee Charitable Campaign (SECC). This year's campaign will run through October 31 with a theme of "All Aboard for a Tradition of Service." The theme ties into the SECC local facilitator, United Way of the Brazos Valley and the 75th Anniversary of the City of College Station. Mr. Chad Wootton, associate vice president for external affairs in the Office of the Provost, and Mr. Russ Wallace, associate professor and extension specialist in Horticultural Sciences, are serving as the 2013 SECC chairs for the Texas A&M System and Texas A&M University. All funds raised through the SECC campaign will go to local organizations in the College Station and Bryan community.

 

Geosciences Mixer
The College of Geosciences will host a mixer following the Sciences Career Fair, 3-5 p.m., Sept. 12, in MSC 2406. Students will have the opportunity to follow up with recruiters looking to hire Aggie geoscientists and further explore their career options. 

"The Career Fair is the next logical step in a student's progress. Students need to start looking into their future career goals, and we have the opportunity to support them in these endeavors," Dr. Sarah Bednarz.
 
Career Fair

Aglantis Population Increases
The newest member in Aglantis is a pinfish (Lagodon rhomboides), donated by a Texas A&M-Galveston student. Texas Sea Grant also recently added a queen angelfish (Holacanthus ciliaris). A contest to name the angelfish was conducted during Gig 'Em week and announced at GeosFest. The winning name is Calypso, submitted by Mitch Parma, a freshman Biomedical Sciences major.

 Professional Activities
 
AWARDS AND HONORS

Zhang and Duce Dr. Robert Duce (OCNG/ATMO), former dean and Distinguished Professor, was appointed to the National Academy of Sciences' Gulf of Mexico program's advisory group. The 24-member group is charged with creating a strategic vision and guiding the program's development and implementation in the first three to five years. 
 
Members of the group represent the science, engineering, and health expertise of the National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, Institute of Medicine, and National Research Council.  
 
The NAS Gulf of Mexico program focuses on human health, environmental protection, and oil system safety in the Gulf of Mexico and the United States' Outer Continental Shelf, and will fund and carry out studies, projects, and activities in research and development, education and training, and environmental monitoring.
 
The group will conduct a series of in-person and virtual meetings in Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas, and Washington, D.C., to identify how the NAS program can make useful and lasting contributions.

EXPEDITIONS AND FIELD WORK

DR. NORTH
Dr. Terry Wade was on board R/V Acadiana.
Dr. Terry Wade
 (GERG) participated in a multi-university expedition to the
Hercules rig blowout. Dr. Steve DiMarco (OCNG) aided in locating a ship and providing logistics so that the scientific team could reach the rig in four days time.
 
Dr. Brendan Roark (GEOG) was a member of the scientific team for the NOAA-sponsored Northeast U.S. Canyons Expedition. 

Dr. Wendy Jepson (GEOG) and her doctoral student Yolanda McDonald (GEOG), completed her NSF-funded study on household water security in low-income rural and peri-urban communities in South Texas (Hidalgo County) with a presentation to the residents at the San Carlos Community Resource Center. She presented the survey development and results of her study, which found that over half of the households surveyed could be classified as "water insecure" even though water corporations serviced their community. She also discussed how residents could engage water supply corporations and political leaders to increase adequate, reliable, and affordable drinking water for a healthy life. Dr. Jepson also hosted a workshop to exchange ideas about the project with the community health promoters (promotoras) who helped with the project.
Dr. Wendy Jepson, second from left, back row, is shown with the promotoras and the director for the project.  
 
Dr. Jepson is also supervising graduate student Emily Vandewalle (GEOG) as she implements the household water security survey in several colonias of El Paso County. Working with a team from UTEP, her project investigates the role of household point-of-use technologies as a water development "solution" to chronic household water insecurity. Emily is also working as an intern for the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) in El Paso. 

Dr. Jepson's project results are under review for geography and policy journals. They will also be presented to Texas legislators in a forthcoming white paper, and she will create a bilingual poster for the public at the San Carlos Community Center.

CONFERENCES AND PRESENTATIONS

Goldberg, Dan Dr. Daniel Goldberg (GEOG) represented the Texas A&M Department of Geography at the first Google Geo for Higher Education Summit 2013 on the Googleplex in Mountain View, Ca.

Dr. Mike Tice (GEPL) participated in the Astrobiology Roadmap workshop jointly sponsored by NASA and the NAS from June 17-20 and will be jointly responsible for soliciting and incorporating community feedback on a white paper on evolution of the atmosphere, biosphere, and geosphere system. The new Roadmap will be published in 2014 and will guide NASA astrobiology priorities for the next 10 years.
Mike Tice
Dr. Mike Tice in his lab with a student.

Dr. Lisa Campbell (OCNG) attended an NSF Workshop on Ocean 'Omics: Genomics Research Needs in the Next Decade, held at the Wrigley Institute's Marine Center, Catalina Island, Calif., 
Aug. 21-23.

Drs. Wilford Gardner and Mary Jo Richardson (OCNG) attended the NSF-sponsored Ocean Carbon and Biogeochemistry meeting, July 22-25, at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Woods Hole, Mass.

Dr. Gardner Dr. Wilford Gardner (OCNG) gave an invited lecture at the 2013 Chemical Geography of the Sea, a Gordon Research Conference, August 4-9, at the University of New England in Biddeford, Maine. The meeting focused on GEOTRACES, an international program, funded by NSF and member-country research foundations, that aims to improve the understanding of biogeochemical cycles and large-scale distribution of trace elements and their isotopes in marine environments. Gardner's lecture was "Global Nepheloid Layers and Benthic Storms."

Dr. Wendy Jepson (GEOG) presented her paper "Legal geography, subject-making, and the state" in the session "Frontiers in Legal Geography" at the International Meeting of the Royal Geographical Society in London, Aug. 27-30, 2013. Her paper, drawing on her empirical work with legal geography of water governance in south Texas, introduces a new theoretical line of analysis (the "legal subject") to refine how scholars conceptualize the political economy within legal conflicts over environmental resources. 

 

Kathryn Wedemeyer, Dr. Joseph Bernardo and Dr. Pamela T. Plotkin (Texas Sea Grant) were authors on a poster presented at the 50th annual conference of the Animal Behavior Society, July 28-Aug. 1, in Boulder, Colo. Wedemeyer presented the poster "Ecological Niches as Underlying Mechanisms of L. olivacea female alternative reproductive tactics.  

STUDENTS

  

Jenny Torres and Victoria Lopez, first-year M.S. students in the Water Management and Hydrological Science program, have been offered the Bridge to Doctorate (BTD) Fellowship by the National Science Foundation (NSF), Texas A&M University System Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation, Bridge to the Doctorate Fellowship Program in partnership with the Dwight Look College of Engineering, the College of Science, the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, and the College of Geosciences. The Bridge to the Doctorate Fellowship provides financial assistance for the first two years of graduate studies in a STEM field. 
Geosfest 2013
The College of Geosciences welcomed new students at GeosFest as part of 
Gig 'em Week. Students met faculty and current students while enjoying tunes from DJ Don Conlee and cooling down with shaved ice. Pictures from the event can be found on the Geosciences Shutterfly account. You will need to make an account to access the photos. 

Pablo Granados-Dieseldorff, Geography graduate, presented at the 26th International Congress for Conservation Biology on Aug. 12, and was awarded a $1,500 travel grant by the Society for Conservation Biology and $2,000 presentation award by the WWF Russell E. Train Education for Nature Program. The competition for both grants included applicants from all over the world and the conference is the largest scientific meeting dealing with conservation science. 

 

Granados-Dieseldorff, P., Heyman, W. D. and Azueta, J. 2013. Persistence and management of the mutton snapper (Lutjanus analis) aggregating fishery at Gladden Spit, Belize. Paper presented at the 26th International Congress for Conservation Biology, July 21-25, Baltimore, Md. 

 

IN THE MEDIA

  

Nielsen-Gammon Dr. John Nielsen-Gammon (ATMO) was cited in several media outlets including NPR and the Southwest Farm Press for his presentation, "Water Woes," during the panel discussion at the annual Texas Produce Convention Aug. 8 in San Antonio, Texas. 

 

In a report published in media worldwide, scientists noted that for the first time sea levels dropped in 2010 and 2011. Odd rainfall patterns, including drought in Australia and the Americas, mean more rain is falling into the oceans and less on land, seems to be culprit.

 

In the article, Nielsen-Gammon agrees that's a likely answer. 

 

"It's not something you can go to the beach and notice, but we can detect it now," he says.

 

Dr. Mark Lemmon (ATMO) has been noted in media outlets worldwide, including NBC News, Science Daily, Science World Report, and Rueters for his contributions to NASA's Mars rover Curiosity snapping images of both lunar and solar eclipses this month. Rover scientists stitched the images together to make a 30-second video of the lunar eclipse, marking the first time an image of two Martian satellites--called Phobos and Deimos--has been captured from the vantage point of the planet's surface.

 

Dr. Andrew Dessler (ATMO) was noted in The Guardian for his expertise in climate change policy.

Dr. Gerald North Dr. Gerald North, Distinguished Professor (ATMO) was quoted in over 50 news outlets including NPR, The Gulf Today, and New England Public Radio for his statement on scientists' increased confidence in climate model accuracy. Dr. North spoke as chairman of a panel of 14 AGU scientists. 

  

SERVICE

  

Texas A&M researchers Drs. Daniel Goldberg (GEOG) and Tracy Hammond (Computer Science) helped the Swedish research group Future Position X

(FPX) to win a bid from the Swedish government for 10-year funding to develop innovative Geographic Information Science solutions for public health. 
  

 

Texas A&M is a member of the University Consortium for Geographic Information Systems (UCGIS). UCGIS and FPX are among the founding members of the Global Spatial Network. 

  

PUBLICATIONS

  

Geology and Geophysics

Dr. Tom Yancey's article, "Mudflow Disturbance in Latest Miocene Forests in Lewis County, Washington," is the featured story in PALAIOS for August on the BioOne site.

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

Eric Riggs Dr. Eric Riggs co-authored a NRC report, "Preparing the Next Generation of Earth Scientists: An Examination of 25 Federal Earth Science Education Programs." This publication will be advertised at the fall 2013 AGU meeting.The publication can be found at the National Academies Press.  


Geography

Granados-Dieseldorff, P., Heyman, W. D., and Azueta, J. 2013. History and co-management of the artisanal mutton snapper (Lutjanus analis) spawning aggregation fishery at Gladden Spit, Belize, 1950-2011. Fisheries Research 147:213-221.  

 

GRANTS 


Dr. Mike Tice (GEPL) is a Texas A&M PI on an NSF grant. The funded project, $4,210,000 over five years, is led through Rice University (Cin-Ty Lee, PI), $410,991 to Tice and addresses "Continent-island arc fluctuations: linking deep Earth dynamics to long-term climate." This is a large interdisciplinary project to examine linkages between deep Earth processes, tectonic cycles, climate, and biogeo-chemical cycles in the Cretaceous. Tice and a graduate student will be developing a high resolution record of volcanic ash input and carbon burial in the southern Western Interior Seaway to test for connections between arc volcanism and carbon burial. 

Grossman, Ethan Dr. Ethan Grossman (GEPL), in collaboration with Dr. Aaron O'Dea of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, received a grant from the National Science Foundation (Sedimentary Geology and Paleobiology program) for their project that explores the relationship between extinction and environmental change associated with the uplift of the Isthmus of Panama. The three-year project, "Elements of an extinction: Exploring the delayed Caribbean extinction with stable isotopes and trace elements," is funded for $290,714 (Texas A&M $246,371) and will include a study abroad opportunity in Panama for geoscience undergraduates.  

Calendar

Monday, Sept. 9
"Global Synthesis of Nepheloid Layers and Benthic Storms," Dr. Wilf Gardner, Texas A&M University, 4- 5 p.m., O&M 112.

Friday, Sept. 13
"Investigating Land-Atmosphere Interactions Using the North American Soil Moisture Database," Dr. Steve Quiring, Texas A&M University, 4-5 p.m., O&M 112.

Monday, Sept. 16
"Plio-Pleistocene Deglacial Global Barrier Reef Establishment, Basin-to-Shelf Carbonate Fractionation," Dr. Andre Droxler, Rice University, 4-5 p.m., O&M 112.

Friday, Sept. 20
"No-Win Waterscapes: A Study of Household Water Security in South Texas Colonias," Dr. Wendy Jepson, Texas A&M University, 4-5 p.m., O&M 112.
 
Monday, Sept. 23
"Productivity and Carbon Cycling in the Neogene Equatorial Pacific: the View from Scientific Drilling," Dr. Mitch Lyle, Texas A&M University, 4-5 p.m., O&M 112.
 
Thursday, Sept. 26
"Groundwater Dependent Ecosystems," Dr. Gretchen Miller, Texas A&M University, 4-5 p.m., O&M 112.

Friday, Sept. 27
"Climatic Impacts of Land Cover Change," Dr. Rezaul Mahmood, Western Kentucky University, 4-5 p.m., O&M 112.
 
Monday, Sept. 30
"Wither are Abrupt Transitions in Climate," Dr. Charles Jackson, University of Texas, 4-5 p.m., O&M 112.
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