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Department Head’s Letter: Fall 2000

Once again, I am astonished that another year has already passed and the time has arrived to update you all with another e-newsletter. It was a busy year once again so I’ve got lots of news to share with you.

Comings and Goings

Comings One of the reasons last year was so busy was that we ran three simultaneous faculty searches. Our goal was to fill two assistant professor positions, one environmental geochemistry and the other in tectonic geomorphology, and one half time instructor position in structural and field geology. The first of these was a split position with the environmental studies program and regrettably, we were unable to identify a candidate that both groups found suitable. We will run this search again next year.

The second position figured prominently in the long range hiring plan I shared with you last year and I am very pleased to report that we attracted a top notch scientist to fill this opening in the form of Dr. Joshua Roering. Josh received his Ph.D. just last Spring from UC-Berkeley, arguably the top tectonic geomorphology group in the country. He is a multidimensional researcher with interests and accomplishments in field-based studies, numerical modeling, and analog experiments. His dissertation field work was in our backyard, in the Oregon coast range in the vicinity of Coos Bay. You can learn more about the details of Josh’s work from Josh himself, by clicking on his web page under “People” on the page preceding this one. Josh and his wife Michele are spending this year based at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, New Zealand where he is completing a postdoctoral appointment. Josh will take up residence in the department during summer 2001 and we look forward to integrating him into our program.

We were also very fortunate to hire Dr. Marli Miller to fill our opening in structural and field geology. Marli had already done significant teaching for us on a course-by-course basis so we knew what an outstanding teacher she was. Marli will take over teaching structural geology from Ray Weldon, she’ll continue to teach his very popular class in the Geology of the National Parks and, beginning last summer, she took over as director of our summer field camp. As if all of that is not enough, Marli is also a very active researcher with a particular interest in the structural geology and tectonics of the Death Valley region of southern California. Marli received her Ph.D. from the University of Washington and she taught for several years at the University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire, prior to moving with here family to Eugene several years ago. Marli will hold the titles of instructor and research assistant professor–let’s hope she doesn’t have to fill out too many forms!!

Goings

——— Sadly, in among the good news about new people who will be joining the department, we also learned of others who will be leaving. We were all very disappointed to learn this summer that Michael Manga will be leaving us during summer 2001 to take up a new position as associate professor in the Department of Geological Sciences at UC-Berkeley. This was a very difficult decision for Michael to reach as there are many things about the department and life in Eugene that he and his family enjoy and value. But in the end, the Willamette Valley’s grass pollens and the UO’s lack of an engineering school tipped the scales in favor of UC-Berkeley. We will greatly miss Michael’s many talents and sharp wit after he leaves but, given that Berkeley is not all that far from Eugene, we expect that we’ll continue to see a good deal of him as he continues to work with students he has started projects with. We wish Michael, his wife Susan, and their son Max all the best.

——— Recent years have also seen a fair number of senior faculty declare their intentions to retire in the relatively near-future. The UO has a retirement program that most opt to participate in that permits a faculty member to largely retire yet retain a one third time appointment with commensurately less teaching for a period of five years. Bill Orr has now completed his one third time appointment and is retired completely from teaching, while Allan Kays has another three years. Norm Savage signed up to begin this program in two year’s time and, this past summer, both Gordon Goles and Jack Rice committed to begin the program in three year’s time.

——— This past year also saw movement among our staff members. Our accountant for the past three years, Patty Valenzuela, left us in September for a promotion to the position of business manager in the Physics department. Although she just moved to the next building, she left a big hole that will be very difficult to fill. Office manager Wanda Weber and I have a search underway–wish us luck! We were also taken by surprise this summer when our long time (22 years, in fact!) electron microprobe and scanning electron microscope technician, Michael Shaffer, announced that he will be leaving us early next summer to get married and move to Newfoundland where his fianc�e lives. Michael is going to be an extremely difficult act for anyone to follow but once again, we’ll do our best to find the right person.

——— Our saddest loss this past year came on Christmas evening when Bill Holser passed away at age 79 �after a long struggle with Parkinson’s Disease. Bill had been an active member of the department and regularly attended the weekly seminar almost up to the end. We will all miss his incredibly sharp scientific mind and his witty personality enormously. At Bill’s family’s request the department set up a fund in Bill’s memory called the William T. Holser Visiting Scholar Fund. Our hope is that sufficient donations will come in to enable us to bring in a visiting scholar from time to time to stay with us for a period longer than the usual couple of days. Contributions may be sent to this fund in care of the department. A memorial to Bill by Alex McBirney and Dana Johnston was published in American Mineralogist, 85:1327 (2000).

Hiring Plans

——— With Michael Manga leaving us soon and all of the impending retirements mentioned above, we are looking forward to quite a few hiring opportunities. We have just had two searches approved for this year, one in physical volcanology and the other in continental crustal petrology. Next year we expect to re-run the joint search with the Environmental Studies program together with another search probably in some area of paleontology or softrock geology. And then, during 2002-2003 we’ll have yet another search to replace Gordon Goles. So, it looks like we’ll be replacing nearly a third of the department in he rather near future.

Faculty Activities

Kathy Cashman has definitely moved into that phase of her career when she is regularly called upon to fill leadership roles. I mentioned in last year’s newsletter that Kathy was a nominee for the presidency of the VGP section of the American Geophysical Union. Predictably, when the votes were counted Kathy emerged as the victor. She will take over as section president this coming summer for a one year term. Kathy is also currently serving on the Petrology & Geochemistry Panel of the National Science Foundation, a role in which she and her fellow panel members make recommendations to the program officers about which proposals to fund. And locally, Kathy is serving on the Dean’s Advisory Committee, a panel that advises the Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences about promotion and tenure decisions.

Becky Dorsey had good news last Spring when she was notified that her promotion to associate professor with indefinite tenure had been approved by the Provost. You may recall from an earlier newsletter that Becky relinquished tenure at Northern Arizona University, the institution we hired her away from, so she could move to the UO and a department with a stronger research profile than NAU. She had two probationary years here during which she assembled a record strong enough to pass the tenure filter a second time. The next stop for Becky will be the jump to full professor.

As mentioned above, Gordon Goles signed the paperwork this past summer indicating his intent to retire within the next three years. Gordon continues to travel to New Zealand with some frequency and this past summer spent some enjoyable weeks in eastern Europe. Gordon will chair our graduate admissions and awards committee this year.

Gene Humphreys was on sabbatical for Fall and Winter terms last year, and spent most of this time in residence at M.I.T. working with Brad Hager and others. Gene’s group is still deeply involved in field-based seismological research aimed at imaging the upper mantle velocity structure beneath the Rocky Mountain front and beneath Yellowstone. Gene’s real big news this year was that he and long time partner Monica were married in Austria this past summer. Congratulations Gene and Monica!

Dana Johnston has just begun the final year of his second, three year term as head of the department and he is eagerly looking forward to a sabbatical leave next year. His hope is to spend part of it at Woods Hole using their ion probe to analyze five year’s worth of mantle melting run products for trace element abundances to determine how distribution coefficients vary with melt fraction near the solidus. Dana hosted a NSF-MARGINS meeting in August which brought 125 earth scientists to Eugene from around the world.

Michael Manga’s big news, as mentioned above, is that he will be leaving us this coming summer to take up a new position as associate professor at UC-Berkeley. Michael will leave behind several in-progress students and we expect he’ll be back for regular visits to help them finish up. Michael incredible breadth will be very difficult to replace but we’ll give it our best shot when we seek a volcanological fluid mechanics expert during the current year.

Marli Miller, our new hire in the field of structural and field geology is just now beginning her first year with us as a tenure track faculty member. Marli took over last summer as director of our field camp, a role we hope she will fill into the indefinite future. Marli had a courtesy appointment with us previously and in that capacity she directed graduate student research. She graduated her first M.S. student last year and she is currently supervising one Ph.D. and one M.S. student.

Mark Reed continues with his research at the giant copper deposit at Butte, Montana. Together with Ph.D. student Brian Rusk, Mark is getting into fluid inclusion microthermometry using an new microscope-mounted heating/freezing stage that he is just now setting up. Mark is also co-organizing, with Kathy Cashman, a special session for the G.S.A. meeting in Reno later this month.

Greg Retallack got some good news this past year when the National Science Foundation informed him that a proposal he had submitted to study the paleosols of central Oregon had been funded. After several years of research in areas as far flung as east Africa and Antarctica, we’re sure Greg’s family is happy to have him working a little closer to home!

Jack Rice surprised us all this summer when he signed on to begin the early retirement program in three year’s time, at an enviably young age. Jack will continue his 3/4 time appointment in the Provost’s Office until then. This year, he is teaching our new Earth Materials class for the first time. As I mentioned at the start of this e-newsletter, Josh Roering is taking his first year on our faculty as leave without pay so he may take advantage of a postdoctoral research opportunity at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, New Zealand. Josh has as one of his goals identifying new research opportunities that he and his students can pursue once he takes up residence in the department.

Norman Savage is also planning to begin his one third time appointment before much longer. However, judging from the fact that a new graduate student was just admitted who wishes to work with Norm, it does not look like he is planning to cut back on his research. Norm continues to serve as our head advisor.

Doug Toomey’s big news is that he and his wife Dr. Emilie Hooft had a baby over the summer. Their new daughter, Ebba, did not wait long to begin travelling with her parents. As I write, Ebba is helping Doug and Emilie service the portable seismometers that Doug and others deployed last year on the Galapagos Islands as part of project IGUANA, whose aim is to image the Galapagos hotspot plume.

Ray Weldon got some good news this Spring when he was informed that his promotion to full professor was approved. So, it looks like the next stop for Ray will be retirement. Ray is on sabbatical this academic year and he moved his family to Bali where he plans to study earthquakes in Indonesia. We expect Ray back for Spring term.

And finally, Harve Waff’s research continues to get deeper into environmental geophysics, with recent funded efforts including some method development work aimed at developing the ability to do electromagnetic surveys in areas with a lot of cultural electrical noise. Harve continues to teach the first term of our Introductory Geology sequence as well as classes in Environmental Field Geophysics and Hydrogeology.

Student Activities

Degree Recipients Last year was another banner year for our graduate students with eleven finishing either M.S. or Ph.D. degrees. Newly minted M.S. students (with their advisor in parentheses) include Sarah Hoover (Cashman), Sue Perry (Weldon), Dale Hanson (Orr), Thomas Hopkins (Weldon), John Bellino (Waff), and Charles Rogers (Miller). Ph.D. recipients last year include Mary Baxter (Savage), Miles Kenney (Weldon), Rebecca Ambers (Dorsey), Jim Palandri (Reed), and Brandon Schwab (Johnston).

Student Kudos Our students continue to earn well deserved honors and I want to spend a moment here recognizing some of these exceptional achievements., Ph.D. student Martin Saar was chosen for an AGU Outstanding Student Paper Award for his presentation at the Fall meeting entitled “Determining Onset of Minimum Yield Strength in Crystal-Melt Suspensions Using a Percolation Theory Approach”. Undergraduate student Siobhan McConnell was awarded a UO Women in Physical Sciences Tuition Fellowship, following in the footsteps of several other departmental majors who received this award in previous years. Canadian Graduate student Alison Rust received a prestigious National Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada award that will provide her with two years of salary and research funding. Graduate student Bob Lenegan received a $1,000 Texaco E&P grant and recent graduate Rebecca Ambers was recognized by the Geological Society of America for her Outstanding Student Research Grant Proposal.

Spring Picnic Awards Recipients of Staples Fund Awards last year were Alison Rust, Carrie Brugger, Martin Saar, Brandon Schwab, Jim Palandri, and Bill Hammond. Baldwin Fellowships were awarded to Robin Beebee, Bob Lenegan, Derek Ryter, Ted Seaman, Nate Sheldon, and Jonathan Wynn. Condon Fund awards went to Jonathan Wynn and Alberto Perez Huerta, and Thayer Fund awards went to Kate Scharer, Craig Tozer, David Adams, and Derek Schutt. Undergraduate Awards included a Field Camp Scholarship for Max Sherwood, Prior Field Camp Awards for Ben Andrews, and Ryan Walsh, a Brunton Compass for Ben Andrews, and geology hammers for Ariel Gross and Cody Sorensen. And finally, the Good Citizen Award went to Adam Soule last year.

Upcoming Staples Field Excursion Beginning this year, the department will utilize some of the spendable income generated from the substantial principal in our Staples Fund to help fund student participation in world-class field trips. Our plan for this year is to provide travel awards for graduate students who participate in a Winter term seminar on Hawaiian volcanism, to help defray the costs of a Spring Break trip to the big island of Hawaii. The fund now generates substantially more than we typically give out as awards at our annual Spring picnic and we have decided to let the difference accumulate and grow to a sum that can be used to run a world-class field trip every two to four years, depending on location. Kathy Cashman and graduate student Adam Soule will organize and lead the trip to Hawaii this year. In subsequent years, we hope to run trips to exotic locales such as Iceland and the Galapagos, and more local destinations such as Yellowstone. We hope that we can offer trips such as these with sufficient frequency that most students will have a chance to benefit from at least one such opportunity.

Closing Statement I see that I have now written on for over six pages so I suspect the time to draw this newsletter to a close has long since passed. We have another busy year ahead of us with two faculty searches on our plate and I hope you’ll tune back in next year about this time to learn the outcome of these important events, as well as about all of the other things that are sure to occur that we can only guess about today.