MESSAGE FROM THE CHAIR
July 15, 2019
The 2018-19 academic year was very exciting, and we are eager to see what 2019-20 brings. This August, Dr. Antonio Arribas joins our faculty as the Kenneth F. and Patricia Clark Distinguished Chair in the Department of Geological Sciences. Antonio has had a distinguished career in industry and academia including service as the President of the Society for Economic Geologists. He is an ideal person to help us increase our connections in academic and applied research in economic geology and mineral exploration. We take this opportunity once again to thank Allen Gilmer for his generous gift in creating this Distinguished Chair position, Ken Clark for being an inspiration for this gift, and Dr. Goodell for making it happen.
Further strengthening our department in economic geology and water resources, we have also hired Dr. Mark Engle. Many of you know Mark because he has worked for the U.S. Geological Survey out of our Geology building for years. Everywhere I go to meetings, when I tell people I am at UTEP, they say “You must know Mark Engle!” It makes a Chair happy to know we are adding someone with such a high-profile and positive reputation throughout the community.
Alumni Jim Handschy & Virginia McLemore and current Professor of Geophysics Diane Doser were named Geological Society of America (GSA) Fellows. Congratulations to them on this important recognition of their successful careers!
This year, the Department of Geological sciences witnessed 31 B.S., 13 M.S. and 9 Ph.D. students graduate and are on their way to careers and graduate school. This year’s students received approximately $48,000 in UTEP and departmental scholarships, and 73% of graduate students completing their degrees earned scholarships and research monies from a number of outside sources. The 2018-19 academic year began with the welcoming of 14 new graduate students with 6 MS Geology students, 6 PhD Geology students and 2 MS ESCI students.
Student success highlights were:
Richard Alfaro-Diaz (Velasco) - Los Alamos National Lab Postdoc Spring 2019, PhD graduate.
Julia Astromovich (Doser) – Roswell Geological Society Scholarship, MS student.
Jordan Caylor (Karplus) – American Institute of Professional Geologists (AIPG) Scholarship, Internship Summer 2019, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, PhD student.
Rafael Delfin (Langford) – 2019 WTGS John Emery Adams scholarship, Internship Summer 2019, Chevron Corporation, MS student.
Hanah Draper (Giles) – 2019 WTGS E. Russel Lloyd Scholarship and SWS AAPG scholarship, Internship Summer 2019, Anadarko Petroleum, MS student.
Jose (Tony) Garcia (Goodell) – Internship Summer 2019, Freeport McMoRan, PhD student.
Victor Garcia (Ma) – Diana Natalicio Dissertation Fellowship Spring 2020 and Summer 2019 internship with Freeport McMoRan corporate office, PhD student.
Evey Gannaway (Giles) – Diana Natalicio Dissertation Fellowship Spring 2019, PhD graduate.
Garrett Goff (Ricketts) – Society Independent Professional Earth Scientists (SIPES) scholarship 2019, MS student.
David Guenaga (Velasco) – Science, Mathematics and Research for Transformation (SMART) Department of Defense (DoD) fellowship; also an Oak Ridge National Lab intern for Summer 2019, PhD student.
Rachelle Kernen (Giles) – American Association of Petroleum Geologists ACE Organizing Committee (Student Volunteer Chair), Salt Tectonic Session Chair, Association for Women Geoscientists booth, PhD student.
Sergio Macias (Goodell) – Internship Freeport McMoRan Summer 2019, MS student.
Manuel Moncada (Doser) – White Award (Geography award), PhD student.
Carlos Reyes (Pennington) – Natalicio Environmental Internship Summer 2019, MS student.
Jacoup Roiz (Ricketts) – Natalicio Environmental Internship Summer 2019, local EPA office, MS student.
Amanda Labrado received a NASA NESSF award for her PhD research with Dr. Brunner on “Microbial native sulfur formation in the subsurface without oxygen”, PhD student.
Marisol Dominguez who was awarded an NSF Graduate Student Fellowship to work with Dr. Gutierrez on “Global Analysis of the Hydrologic Sensitivity to Climate Variability using a Budyko Approach”, PhD student.
At the 2017-18 UTEP Graduate student research EXPO Master’s student in Environmental Science, Julio Ceniceros (Advisor: Dr. Gill) received the first place poster award for his poster Identifying the Abundance of Soil, Vegetation, and Rock Using Multiple Endmember Spectral Mixture Analysis (MESMA) in Texas, New Mexico and Oklahoma.
Ezequiel Moreno Flores (Advisor: Dr. Xu) was awarded the Geological Society of America Graduate Student Research Grant for his work: Crystal Structural Variations of Abiotic and Biogenic Iron Sulfide Nanoparticles: Effect of Formation Environments’ Redox Conditions.
Guadalupe Alvarez (Advisor: Dr. Gutierrez) was recognized for her Outstanding Student Paper at the December 2017 American Geophysical Union meeting in New Orleans. She graduated in May 2019 and has applied to graduate school at the University of Canberra (Australia).
Undergraduate Amaris Bustamante received the James H. & Minnie Edmonds UTEP Presidential Scholarship and the Texas Grant.
Angela Trejo, an ESCI undergrad, was a recipient of a PEP Woods Hole summer internship.
The Geology Field Experience Funds were awarded to: Alex Eddy, Zach Fleming, Tony Garcia, Garrett Goff, Amanda Labrado, Anna Mwangi, Mohan Pant, Josh Peterson, Patrick Rea, Tai Subia, Ivy Trevizo, and Felix Ziwu.
We thank the university, alumni especially James Cearley for the Geology Field Experience Fund, President Natalicio and other funding sources for this support. Approximately 19% of the undergraduate students and 44% of our graduate students received scholarships in recognition of their academic progress.
We thank the graduate school for awarding the following graduate students with the UTEP Doctoral Excellence Fellowships: Raquel Guzman, Iliana Galvan, Hannah Keane, Frankie Enriquez, Rachel Phillips and Jesse Kelsch.
This year’s Colloquium “E4: Earth, Energy, Environment, Everyone” in March was sponsored by James Cearley, Larry Franceware and Royal Dutch Shell. Their generous gifts made planning the Colloquium much easier. We thank the organizing committee Georgina Rodriguez Gonzalez, Tony Garcia, Labdan Alqahtani, Leslie Bernal Lopez, Erik Urquidi, Victor Garcia and David Lankford-Bravo all deserve special accolades for leading the effort.
We also held an alumni reception at the AAPG meeting in San Antonio this May which was sponsored by alumni Corine Prieto and the Salt-Sediment Interaction Research Consortium (SSIR-C), along with the UTEP alumni office and the Department of Geological Sciences. A good crowd of alumni and current students turned out and had a great time. Please look for us at next year’s meeting in Houston June 7-10, 2020.
Winners of best presentations and posters at colloquium were:
Ariana De La Hoya 1st Place Undergraduate - Diet Assessment of New Zealand Grey Ducks and the Invasive Mallard
Miranda H. Miranda 2nd Place Undergraduate - High Ozone Episode in the Paso Del Norte Region
Nikki Donegan 3rd Place Undergraduate - Urban Dipteran Diversity in the Desert Southwest
Emmanuel Sosa 1st Place Graduate - A Quantitative Assessment of the Presence and Mobility of Trace Metals in Soils and Groundwater
Alondra Soltero 2nd Place Graduate - Top Salt Synclines in the "Post Diapiric" Jurassic Morrison Formation, Big Gypsum Valley, Colorado
Julia Astromovich 3rd Place Graduate - Using Gravity Methods to Identify a Salt Shoulder of the Onion Creek Salt Diapir, Utah
Meagan Trainham 1st Place EPCC student - Rockfall Hazard on Transmountain
Amanda Labrado 1st Place - Deciphering Istopes of Elemental Sulfur at Caprock from Damon Mound, TX Temperature of a Dynamic Microbial Subsurface Environment
Victor H. Garcia 2nd Place - Hydrogeochemistry of Travertine Depositing Springs near the Santa Fe Fault in Laguna, New Mexico
Claire Bailey 3rd Place - Fluvial Facies Distribution of the Jurassic Salt Wash Member of the Morrison Formation Around the Gypsum Valley Salt Diapir.
New research grants include:
- Dr. Gill Regional dust forecasting for Valley Fever surveillance, highway accident prevention, and air quality management in the Southwestern U.S. NASA $58,833.
- Dr. Gill and Langford Acquisition of Laser Diffraction Particle Sizing System for Research and Research Education on Earth, Environmental, and Atmospheric Boundary Layer Processes and Materials. DoD $107,825.
- Dr. Pennington, Walker, Hargrove, Santiago, Archuleta, Cappelle Engineering Research Center for One Water. NSF. $100,000 and SWIM to a Sustainable Water Future. PI: Natalia Villanueva (Computer Science). NSF $599,451.
- Dr. Velasco NSF INTERN Award, Supplement to "GP_EXTRA: Academic Year Pathways Research Experience Program (AY-PREP)", $30,100.
- Dr. Giles PI with Dr. Langford and Brunner. Salt-Sediment Interaction Research Consortium sponsored by BP America, BHP Billton, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil, Hess, Kosmos, Repsol, Total $405,000.
- Dr. Kubicki with PI Kate Freeman (Penn State) and others. The origins of molecules in diverse space and planetary environments and their intramolecular isotope signatures. NASA $612,000 to UTEP.
- Dr. Ma with PIs at University of Arizona MRI: Acquisition of a noble gas multi-collector mass spectrometer for geochronology and geochemistry research. NSF $880,000.
- Dr. Gill & Dr. Jin Quantifying land surface properties for mitigating blowing dust impact on highway safety at Lordsburg Playa, New Mexico. U.S. Department of Transportation $57,380.
- Dr. Karplus, Doser, Veitch Investigating West Texas Seismicity and Structure with Dense Geophone Arrays. State of Texas $194,974.
- Dr. Karplus & Velasco, International Lithosphere Program (ILP) Coordinating Committee, Lithospheric Seismicity and Tectonics in the Himalaya, expected $4,000 per year for 5 years.
- , NSF REU Supplement to Investigating Seismicity of the Main Himalayan Thrust in Nepal, $24,000.
News organizations have taken note of the important work done by Marianne Karplus, Ph.D., Steven Harder, Ph.D., and Galen Kaip who are participating in the Thwaites Interdisciplinary Margin Evolution (TIME) project. They will use precision seismic, GPS and radar instrumentation to collect new data on the current behavior and future evolution of Thwaites Glacier in West Antarctica. These new data will help improve computer models used to predict the future contribution of the West Antarctic ice sheet to global sea level changes. The five-year project began in October 2018.
Please join us as UTEP Geological Sciences moves forward to learn more about how we are using education and research to help society deal with today’s complex geological, environmental, and energy issues. We are happy to include you in our efforts.
Chair, Geological & Environmental Sciences