Celebrating Departmental Accolades

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Students in the field for Ashley Matheny’s popular Ecohydrology & Biometeorology class

The Department of Geological Sciences (DGS) is pleased to recognize a number of staff members, faculty and students for their extraordinary efforts in the 2019-2020 academic year.

Guion Library Staff Honors: Given in recognition of Thelma Lynn Guion, the first and longest serving Geology Librarian whose passion included student and staff support, these awards recognize ‘above and beyond’ efforts that benefit of the Walter Geology Library. This year, DGS would like to recognize three staff:

Colleen Lyon, Head of Scholarly Communications, was a vital part of migrating the library’s large full text online database, Virtual Landscapes of Texas, to its new home in the ScholarWorks repository. This was a massive task that could not have been completed without Colleen’s contribution.

Anne Morgan, GRA for the Walter Library, was a vital part of migrating the library’s large full text online database, Virtual Landscapes of Texas, to its new home in the ScholarWorks repository. This was a massive task that could not have been completed without Anne’s contribution.

James Galloway, the unit manager for the Walter Library, stepped into a leadership role during the illness of the Librarian and did an excellent job of maintaining service and relationships during a trying period as DGS migrated its software systems to a new platform. James also developed an excellent, productive and reliable student staff work force for which DGS is grateful.

Estwing Hammer Award: Sponsored each year by the Estwing Corporation which provides a hammer, this award recognizes a student for consistently outstanding performance in the Introductory Field Methods (Geo420K) and Field Camp (Geo660) courses. This year, DGS would like to recognize one student:

Caitlin Foux, a senior working towards a B.S. in Geological Sciences, is very deserving of this award after finishing at or near the top of both classes.

GSEC Student Service Award: Awarded by the graduate student community, this award recognizes the outstanding efforts in support of the Jackson School of GeoSciences graduate student community by one of its own.

Sophie Goliber, a current graduate student, “consistently does an outstanding job with every task she is given, works efficiently and proactively, and maintains a positive and enthusiastic attitude at all times.”

Graduate Student Best Paper

Ben Smith, currently an Agouron post-doc at CalTech, won this year’s best paper award for a paper published by a current or recent JSG grad in the peer-reviewed literature. His paper in Earth and Planetary Science Letters, “Impacts of basin restriction on geochemistry and extinction patterns: A case from the Guadalupian Delaware Basin, USA,” highlighted how changes in sea level and closure of Delaware Basin led to changes in salinity and oxygenation that drove faunal turnover and basin water chemistry.

DGS would also like to recognize the work of four runner-ups for the best student paper award: Xian Wu, Brandon Shuck, Thomas Etzel, and Jasmine Mason.

Annual Best Graduate Student Presentation Awards: The best PhD talks are awarded by polling of the student audiences across the different venues for either fall or spring semesters.

Colin Schroeder is awarded the Fall 2019 Technical Sessions Best Speaker for his presentation entitled “Visualizing and Quantifying Near-Wellbore Fluid Flow Processes Using Time-Lapse Micro-CT Imaging.” Colin’s presentation introduced and demonstrated a recently developed laboratory technique, leveraging in-situ X-ray micro-CT scanning, for studying near-wellbore multiphase fluid flow processes, with potentially significant implications for petrophysical evaluation of water-, oil-, and gas-bearing formations.

Sam Robbins is awarded the Masters Saturday Best Speaker in Spring, 2020 for his M.S. presentation entitled “Constraining the Tectono-Thermal Evolution of the Egyptian Red Sea Margin: Linking Observations from the Proximal to Distal Hyperextended Rift Domain.” According to faculty member Daniel Stockli, “Sam’s in-depth study of Red Sea rift margin integrated both field and seismic structural observations with geo- and thermochronometry. He was able to illuminate the progressive thermal evolution of a rift margin in response to both crustal and lithospheric thinning and the transition to sea floor spreading.”

Tom Etzel is awarded the Technical Sessions Best Speaker in Spring 2020 for his PhD talk entitled “Cenozoic metamorphism in the Central Menderes Massif, western Turkey.” According to faculty member Liz Catlos, “Tom is applying exciting new advances in metamorphic petrology to understanding Aegean tectonics and is advancing the value of garnet-based thermodynamic modeling across discipline boundaries.”

Knebel Teaching Awards – A gift from the Knebel Family highlights excellence in graduate and undergraduate teaching. This year, DGS is recognizing three faculty with the Knebel Teaching Awards: an undergraduate introductory award based on both student CIS results and faculty input and an upper-level undergraduate and graduate course awards are voted on by the students.

Tim Shanahan, Associate Professor, receives the award for introductory, undergraduate courses. Shanahan notes that “Geo 303 provides an introductory but in-depth survey of the discipline of Geology. It is appropriate as an introductory course for both science and engineering majors as well as for non-science majors who are interested in the world around them and wish to fulfill elective science credits.” Tim has invested substantial effort into revamping this class and has seen very positive student response.

Ashley Matheny, Assistant Professor, has been awarded the Knebel Teaching Award for an undergraduate course. Her very popular Ecohydrology & Biometeorology class has become a critical element of the Water-Climate-Environment program. The class is an interdisciplinary, discussion-based course that focuses on understanding, measuring, and modeling interactions between vegetation and the atmosphere.

Gail Christeson, Associate Director of the Institute for Geophysics and a Senior Research Scientist, is awarded the Knebel Teaching Award for graduate teaching for her class “Python in Geoscience Research” which considers fundamental and scientific python with focus on geoscience applications. This class has rapidly become one of the most popular offerings in our upper level undergraduate-graduate student program.

Outstanding Teaching Assistant Awards: Nominated by professors, these awards recognize graduate teaching assistants who have distinguished themselves through excellence in teaching and innovation.

Grace Beaudoin  is an Outstanding TA (Spring 2020, Geo 401). According to faculty member Liz Catlos: “Grace was an invaluable help to me, her students, and the other TAs as we progressed through the changes in the Geo 401: Physical Geology course due to coronavirus. All of her students and the other TAs in the course appreciated her help and great teaching skills.”

Yuqian (Philomena) Gan is an Outstanding TA (Fall 2019, Geo 347K/302K).  According to Mark Helper, “As a Gems and Gem Minerals TA for two semesters, Philomena brought new ideas, abundant energy, a great sense of humor and academic rigor to this non-major’s class.  She is a delight to work with and highly deserving of this recognition.”

Kwun Yim (Samuel) Fung is an Outstanding TA (Spring 2020, Geo 302C). According to faculty member Zong-Liang Yang, “Samuel is easily ranked among the best TAs. He is extremely well-organized, always available, has tremendous care for the success of his students, and is always willing to extend a helping hand. As we adapted to online teaching, Samuel assisted me as an alternative host to ensure the class ran smoothly and played an important role in retaining students.”

Eirini Poulaki is recognized as an Outstanding TA for Spring 2020 (Geo 420K). According to faculty member Mark Helper, “Eirini was the rock among a very strong group of Geo 420K TAs.  Her hard work, attention to detail, compassion for students and oversight of lab materials and the lab final were truly invaluable this semester.”

Wade Aubin is recognized as an Outstanding TA (Fall 2019, Geo 401). According to faculty member Dan Breecker, “Wade was a committed TA who spent extra time preparing lectures and materials to give student in the labs the best experience possible. Many students commented to me how great a TA Wade was. He is clearly an accomplished teacher and should be recognized as such.”