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September 2013

IPCC 2013

The College of Geosciences' climate change experts were called upon by the media leading up to and on the day of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Fifth Assessment Report, issued Sept. 27, in Stockholm, Sweden.

In This Issue
Dear Colleagues,

Dear Colleagues,

For the Dean's Office, fall is a time when much effort is devoted to supporting student recruitment both at the undergraduate and graduate levels. A new focus for Director of Recruitment Sonia Garcia is strategic recruitment of transfer students, thanks to a priority set by the President and Provost backed by $50,000 in one-time funds. You might be surprised to learn, as I was, that 20% of undergraduates in the College who were new to Texas A&M were transfer students this fall. In the coming year, Sonia and her team will look carefully at the characteristics and schools of origin of our current transfer students, their majors, and the keys to their to success in our College. Moreover, she will be working to establish new  lines of communications with key faculty and advisors in community colleges to increase awareness of and develop new pathways for students into the Geosciences. Initially, she will collaborate with Texas A&M's nine Prospective Student Centers and members of DIG Texas to develop strong relationships with those community colleges most likely to support transfer of students to our College. If you already have colleagues at community colleges who you think would be willing to help support transfers to our College, please contact Sonia, so that she can reach out to them.   

In October, Eric Riggs will be furthering our College-wide graduate recruiting efforts by assuring our presence at two major venues: the Big Ten+ Graduate Recruiting Expo, and the annual SACNAS meeting. The Big Ten+ Graduate Recruiting Expo is an invitation-only event that hundreds of students in the sciences, mathematics and engineering from 33 states and over 100 institutions attend each year in order to meet with graduate program recruiters from around the country. This expo has rapidly become one of the premier science and engineering graduate recruiting events in the nation, and I am pleased that Eric will, once again, be attending to make sure our graduate programs are visible and prominent at this important venue.
As part of his charge to facilitate expansion the diversity of the faculty, staff and students in the Geosciences Eric has worked to increase our presence at the national meeting of the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS). This organization has become a major force in promoting diversity in graduate programs for mostly Hispanic/Latino students, principally through the annual meeting.  It draws roughly 4,500 attendees, of which about 2,500 are students, three quarters of whom are highly qualified undergraduates looking for graduate programs. Later this week, the national meeting will take place in San Antonio. Together with Professor Miguel Mora in the College of Agriculture and OGAPS, Eric has positioned Texas A&M University as a Gold Sponsor. The College will be promoting all of our graduate programs at a dedicated booth, and is sponsoring a separate booth to promote our Oceanography programs as Ocean Sciences is a theme of the meeting. Twelve graduate students, staff and faculty members from across the College will help this year's recruiting efforts. I will also attend.  
Also on the horizon is the communications office's effort in redesigning the website to meet contemporary standards and accessibility requirements. We are being helped by a team from CIS to ensure that our website is easy to navigate, meets ADA accessibility requirements and responds to cell phone and tablet formats. We can all appreciate the importance of a friendly, attractive and informative website. It is our front door to recruit new students, disseminate information about our academic and research programs, to attract donors, to reconnect former students and to speak to countless other audiences. Our first priority is the Admissions site, and we will be testing it with student, staff and faculty groups. To do this right takes time, and we ask your patience as we go through the process.


Kate Miller
Dean, College of Geosciences

College News

Update from GERG 
Dr. Tony Knap (GERG) announces some changes and introduces new personnel at GERG. 

Dr. Terry Wade has been appointed the deputy director at GERG. Wade will be in charge of day-to-day operations and will fill in for Knap during his absence. 

Dr. Stephen DiMarco (OCNG) has been appointed the Ocean Observing team lead and will help develop some of the remote observing programs under way at GERG. 

Sandy Dunham joined GERG as the business administrator and is in charge of human resources. Sandy has many years of experience with Texas A&M, and was most recently been with Geology and Geophysics. 

John Walpert has been appointed the technical team lead and will be involved in planning, developing and implementing the ocean observing systems at GERG. John has also hired an experienced glider pilot, Karen Dreger. Dr. Ruth Mullins, who has also trained as a glider pilot and is also part of the GERG team. 

"We are busy renovating some of our existing space, building a 5,000 sq. ft. facility to house, test and pilot our gliders and AUVs as well as developing sensors for these autonomous vehicles," Knap said. "We are purchasing some new instrumentation as well for our geochemical analytical arm. I hope you will all have an opportunity to visit GERG sometime soon, and you don't need a parking permit." 

Major Safety Upgrade in Halbouty Buildings Begins this Fall

Maureen Reap, facilities coordinator, reports the following updates. 

  • The university has ordered an upgrade in the fire and life safety systems for both Halbouty buildings. This job began Sept. 26, and will continue for 90 days, including the December break. To bring the buildings into compliance with current fire code, more than 120 smoke and particulate detectors, lights, and klaxons will be replaced. A single "fire panel" located in Old Halbouty will report for both buildings in future.
  • Drilling through concrete supports will be inevitable and will be scheduled during class changes. Locations with sensitive apparatus have already been marked for the contractors. Individuals who have asked to be present during the work in their areas will be contacted by the project manager or the contractor. "We hope to be given a detailed calendar shortly so that we can predict where the electricians will be throughout the project. At this time, it is not anticipated that any classes will be moved or disrupted," Reap said. 
  • Britt-Rice Electric is doing the job, under the supervision of SSC Services' EDCS and Fire and Life Safety Divisions and Texas A&M's Environmental Health and Safety Department. The EDCS project manager is Deborah Hardt. Maureen Reap is your local contact for all questions and comments. 


Old Halbouty Front Doors 

Both EDCS and the building proctor were dissatisfied with the final appearance of the thresholds under the newly refurbished front doors of Old Halbouty. The Stanley Corp. has been told to replace them as soon as parts can be fabricated.


To the chagrin of those whose job it is to lock and maintain them, it appears that for some students the "tradition" of pulling on these ornate, irreplaceable front doors until they give way is just too engrained. Signage and appeals during class not to pull on the doors after hours have been ignored. Therefore, at the request of the department, horizontal sliding deadbolts will be fitted just below the panic bars on all three sets of double doors facing Ross Street. These will not be attractive or in keeping with the historic look of the doors, but it must be done to protect them from being irretrievably broken by careless users.

Get Your Posters Ready: Student Research Week is in November
The second annual Student Research Week is Nov. 18-19. Registration opens Oct. 1, and the deadline to register is Nov. 11. 

"Last year's inaugural event was highly successful," said Dr. Sarah Bednarz (GEOG and associate dean for academic affairs). We had 27 poster presentations by both graduates and undergraduates." 

Bednarz said that the College of Geosciences' Student Research Week is good practice for Texas A&M's Student Research Week, March 24-28. 2014. "The experience is also helpful for students participating in regional and national conferences. They can get feedback and make any adjustments before taking their presentations on the road." 

Complete information and the registration form can be found on the Student Research Week website. 

 Professional Activities

Two Atmospheric Scientists Receive Awards for Writing and Research 

The American Meteorological Society (AMS) announced that two of its awards for 2014 will go to Department of Atmospheric Sciences' faculty members. 
Andrew Dessler will receive an AMS award for his book on climate change.

Courtney Schumacher will receive a 2014 AMS award for research.

Texas Sea Grant's WaterSmart Demonstration Rain Garden at the University of Houston-Clear Lake has been selected to receive a Keep Houston Beautiful Mayor's Proud Partner Award.

Texas Sea Grant recently received a donation of an extensive seashell collection from the McDonnell Family. The shells, the majority of which are from the Philippines, are displayed in four large cabinets in the halls of the Texas Sea Grant office in the TAES Annex.


Gary Graham, Texas Sea Grant Marine Fisheries Specialist, and Tony Reisinger, Texas Sea Grant's Cameron County Agent, embarked on a 30- to 40-day cruise under a NOAA Fisheries research grant to test the efficacy of prototype finfish by-catch reduction devices (BRDs) for shrimp trawls.


Dr. Mona Behl (TXSG) presented a talk at the Bureau of Economic Geology at University of Texas in Austin, Sept, 13, 2013.


Dr. Matthew Schmidt (OCNG) and his graduate students, Jennifer Hertzberg and Andrew Parker, attended the International Conference of Paleoceangraphy in Sitges, Spain, Sept. 1-6. 
  Hertzberg presented "Comparison of TEX86 and foraminiferal Mg/Ca SSTs reflects changes in glacial nutrient dynamics of the Eastern Equatorial Pacific."

Parker presented "Tropical North Atlantic temperature anomalies linked to AMOC variability across Dansgaard-Oscheger events."

Schmidt presented "Foraminiferal Ba/Ca ratios and oxygen isotopic composition of seawater values from the southern Caribbean reflect hydrologic cycle variability over the past 21 kyr."

Dr. Robert Duce (ATMO/OCNG), Distinguished Professor Emeritus and former dean, participated in the annual meeting of the 15-person UN Group of Experts on the Scientific Aspect of the Marine Environmental Protection, Sept. 8-13, at the United Nations' facilities in Vienna, Austria.

Dr. Shaima Nasiri (ATMO) served on the program committee of the 2013 EUMETSAT/American Meteorological Society Meteorological Satellite Conference, Sept. 16-20, in Vienna, Austria. She also gave two presentations at the meeting:  "The cloud top properties from the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder Version 6 release," and "Cloud liquid water and ice in the mid- troposphere: Comparing observations and models." 

Texas Sea Grant and its partners opened its Coastal Bend speaker series, "Preserving Our Charm in the Midst of Growth and Change," with a presentation in Rockport, Sept. 4, by Texas A&M Regents Professor and State Climatologist Dr. John Nielsen-Gammon on "Climate Expectations." 
Heather Wade, Texas Sea Grant's Coastal Planning Specialist, recently co-hosted workshops on "BP Deepwater Horizon Restoration and Recovery: Implementing the RESTORE Act in Texas," in Brownsville, Port Lavaca, and Port Aransas. 
Dr. Shari Yvon-Lewis (OCNG) participated in the 2014 WMO Scientific Assessment of Ozone Depletion Chapter 1 co-author meeting in Zurich, Sept. 11-13. 
Dr. Shaima Nasiri (ATMO) served on the program committee of the 2013 EUMETSAT/American Meteorological Society Meteorological Satellite Conference, Sept. 16-20, Vienna, Austria. She also gave two presentations at the meeting: "The cloud top properties from the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder Version 6 release" and "Cloud liquid water and ice in the mid- troposphere: Comparing observations and models." 
Dr. Lisa Campbell
The Texas Parks & Wildlife Department has awarded Dr. Lisa Campbell (OCNG/BIOL) a continuation of her contract to support the Imaging Flow Cytobot (IFCB) in Port Ar
ansas ($48,780 for two years). The IFCB provides early warning for Harmful Algal Blooms.



Geosciences Career Fair

The College of Geosciences hosted a Geosciences Mixer, Sept. 12, following the Sciences Career Fair for companies interested in recruiting geoscience majors. Twenty-seven recruiters represented 13 different companies: National Weather Service, EOG Resources, BP, CGG, Partner Engineering and Science Inc, TGS, Maersk Oil, Encana Oil and Gas, Marathon Oil, URS Corp, ARCADIS, Statoil, and Chevron. Eighty-three undergraduate and graduate Geosciences students, along with eight eight faculty and five staff. Emily Dykes (ENVP) headed the Geosciences Mixer planning committee, which also included the academic advisors: Missy Mathews (OCNG/ATMO), Gail Rowe (GEOG), Suzanne Rosser (GEPL), and Rosario Sanchez Flores (WMHS). Representives from the Dean's Office were: Roxanna Russell, Dr. Sarah Bednarz, Jack Falks, and Karen Riedel. Kaitlyn Simpson (ENVP), represented the Student Geosciences Council.
"Thank you to the committee for planning the event and to the Student Geosciences Council for helping set up and take down on the day of the mixer," Dykes said. 



Dr. Ron Kaiser was quoted in the Sept. 16 issue of Texas Tribune in an article on underground water rights in Texas.  


An article published in Nature Geosciences by Dr. Will Sager, now at the University of Houston, and his student, Jinchang Zhang (OCNG) went viral for being described as the world's largest volcano. Sager named the formation Tamu Massif, and Texas A&M received worldwide attention. The article appeared in hundreds of media outlets, including all network news, major national and international newspapers, online and print scientific publications and media as diverse as Forbes, Wired, and National Geographic.   


Dr. John Nielsen-Gammon (ATMO) spoke extensively on an NPR segment about the jet stream's affect on recent weather.




Dr. Sarah Bednarz (GEOG), associate dean for academic affairs, was one of four panel members who participated in the Road Map to the 21st Century presentation, Sept. 15, at National Geographic headquarters in Washington, D.C. The panel discussed highlights from the reports and implications for policy and practice. 
Bednarz is chair of Geography Educational Research, one of three blue-ribbon committees. 
The Geography Educational Research Committee developed an agenda for educational research that lays out questions about learning, teaching, and educational change that must be answered to maintain the effectiveness of geography education into the future. 
The other two committees are Assessment, which developed a framework for assessing progress toward geographic literacy from kindergarten through high school, and Instructional Materials and Professional Development. 
The two-year project, funded by the National Science Foundation, brought together experts in geography, science, education and research to create a set of landmark reports focusing on key issues for educational improvement. The National Geographic's website has more details about the report. 

Deep Earth Academy (DEA) hosted a three-day Regional Rocks professional development workshop for local teachers at Ocean Leadership. Led by DEA staff and Dr. Debbie Thomas (OCNG), participants were immersed in IODP science and activities related to climate change and the Next Generation Science Standards. 


Dr. Shari-Yvon Lewis (OCNG) participated in the WMO Scientific Assessment of Ozone Depletion Chapter 1 co-author meeting, Sept. 11-13, in Zurich, Switzerland.   


Texas Sea Grant is involved with a wetland pilot project created at NASA's Johnson Space Center, which sits on 1,100 acres of former coastal prairie by the shores of Clear Lake. The Texas Coastal Watershed Program's Mary Carol Edwards, Stormwater Wetland Program Coordinator, and Chris LaChance, WaterSmart Program coordinator, consulted with staff at the JSC Environmental Office over a boggy "problem area" in the landscape where water would pool after rains, making maintenance difficult. The TCWP provided assistance on how to prepare the soil, identify and collect desirable wetland species, and plant the wetland, which enabled the JSC to create its first stormwater wetland project within a limited budget.

Dr. Mona Behl (TXSG) was invited to participate in NSF sponsored Expert Witness Training Academy (EWTA) as an EWTA Fellow. This workshop was held at William Mitchell College of Law in St. Paul, Minn., Aug. 4-10. It brought together scientists, lawyers, judges and educators to immerse into science communication in a legal setting.




Dr. Gerald North (ATMO/OCNG), Distinguished Professor, provided commentary,"More Evidence for Anthropogenic Influence on Climate Change," in response to an article in PNAS: doi/10.1073/pnas.1316025110  


A recently published article by Dr. Christian Brannstrom (GEOG) and Kelly Lemmons, graduate student, explores the potentialities of cultural learning through short-term study abroad programs. The article suggests that methods historically used in geography may play an important role in facilitating student understanding of the respective host culture. 


Lemmons, K.; Brannstrom C.; Hurd, D. (2013). Exposing repeat photography: increasing cultural understanding on a short-term study abroad. Journal of Geography in Higher Education (on-line Sept. 11, 2013)  


Dr. Andrew Dessler (ATMO) published an article in PNAS: A. E. Dessler, M. R. Schoeberl, T. Wang, S. M. Davis, and K. H. Rosenlof, Stratopheric water vapor feedback, PNAS, September 30, 2013, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1310344110. 


The article was also reported in TAMU Times.


Dr. Terry Wade and Stephen Sweet (GERG) co-authored the following publication in Chemosphere: Barakat, A.O., A. Mostafa, T.L. Wade, S.T. Sweet, N.B. El Sayed, 2013. Distribution and ecological risk of organochlorine pesticides and polychlorinated biphenyls in sediments from the Mediterranean coastal environment of Egypt. Chemosphere 93: 545-554. 


Dr. Christian Brannstrom (GEOG) is co-editor of a book, Land Change Science, Political Economy, and Sustainability: Synergies and Divergences, Christian Brannstrom and Jacqueline M. Vadjunec, eds., London and New York: Routledge, 2013.    


Dr. Antonietta Quiqq (OCNG-TAMUG) was co-author of Tiny Plants that Once Ruled the Seas, published in the May 15, 2013 issue of Scientific American. 



Thursday, Oct. 3
"Impact of Climate Change on Watershed Planning in Guanajuato, Mexico," Dr. Yann Rene Ramos, University of Guanajuato, 4- 5 p.m., Moore Communications Building (KAMU).

Monday, Oct. 7
"Modal Variability of the Ocean Circulation," Dr. Wilbert Weijer, Los Alamos National Laboratory, 4-5 p.m., O&M 112.

Thursday, Oct. 10
"The Earth's Critical Zone and Water: a New Perspective," Dr. Rick Giardino, Texas A&M University, 4-5 p.m., O&M 112.

Monday, Oct. 14
"Three Years After the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill: Changes in the Redox State of Sediments," Dr. David Hastings, Eckerd College, 4-5 p.m., O&M 112.
Thursday, Oct. 17
"Rainwater Harvesting to Extend Water Supplies," Dr. Xitlali Delgado, University of Guanajuato, 4-5 p.m., Moore Communications Building (KAMU).
Monday, Oct. 21
"Tropical Pacific Hydrographic," Dr. Gretchen Miller, Texas A&M University, 4-5 p.m., O&M 112.

Thursday, Oct. 24
"Climatic Impacts on Rio Grande River," Dr. Prakash Khedun, 4-5 p.m., Moore Communications Building (KAMU).
Tuesday, Oct. 29
"Fire in the Ocean: State of Knowledge on the Characterization and Fate of Dissolved Pyrogenic Carbon," Dr. Patrick Louchouarn, Texas A&M University Galveston, 4-5 p.m., O&M 112.
Thursday, Oct. 31
"Rio Grande Drought Treaty Conflicts: a Texas Perspective," Dr. Carlos Rubenstein, Texas A&M University, 4-5 p.m., Moore Communications Building (KAMU).
Send items of interest for the October issue to Karen Riedel.
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