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Department Head’s Letter: Fall 2001

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. First and foremost though, I want to let you know that I will be department head just until mid-September when Norman Savage will take over as interim Head for the coming academic year while I am away on sabbatical.

Comings and Goings

Comings One of the reasons last year was so busy was that we ran three simultaneous searches, one for an assistant professor in volcanology, another for an assistant professor in continental crustal petrology and a third to replace long time electron beam technician Michael Shaffer who was married and relocated to Newfoundland this summer. I am pleased to report that Dr. Paul Wallace accepted our offer of the volcanology position and we expect him in Eugene any day now, in time for the 2001-2002 academic year. Paul received his Ph.D. in 1991 from UC-Berkeley where he worked with Ian Carmichael. From there Paul moved to Fred Anderson’s lab at the University of Chicago where he was post-doc for several years before moving to Texas A&M University where he has been employed as a staff scientist with the Ocean Drilling Program for several years. Along the way, Paul’s research specialty evolved into the study of volatiles in volcanic systems, and area he is arguably one of the top experts in presently, as evidenced by the recent special issue of Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research on this topic that he co-edited. Paul has already begun ordering equipment for the Fourier Transform Infrared Spectrometer (FTIR) lab he will set up, in the same general area of Cascade Hall where the electron microbeam instruments are located. Paul will definitely hit the ground running as he is transferring several active research grants as well as a graduate student who worked with him at Texas A&M. Paul will teach GEOL 201 this Fall and, during Winter term, he will take over Jack Rice’s Geochemical Thermodynamics class since Jack is now primarily occupied with his duties in the Provost’s Office where he spends three quarters of his time.

——— Regrettably, our search in continental crustal petrology did not fare as well. We interviewed several people and made an offer to an outstanding candidate but family complications prevented him from accepting the offer. We will run this search again during the coming year, although we have redefined the field of expertise to be rock physics/fluid mechanics (see our ads for this year’s searches elsewhere on this web page).

——— Our search for a new technical support person for our electron microprobe and scanning electron microscope is still underway as I write. After 23 years in this position, it seems really odd to no longer have Michael Shaffer to rely upon for his expert advice and friendly help.

——— We also had an new arrival in the department office when Dave Stemple accepted our offer to fill the accountant position that Patty Valenzuela vacated last summer. Dave came to us from the College of Education where he was hired after returning to Oregon after a 20+ year in the military. Dave quickly caught on to our many idiosyncrasies and he has established his place in the DoGS family. Dave is a sports nut like most of us have never seen before. His office walls are covered with Oregon Ducks football posters and his computer can often be heard playing the Oregon fight song! One of the first non-routine tasks we asked of Dave was finding 23 of us cheap fares for the Staples Field Excursion we ran to the big island of Hawaii last Spring Break–apparently they don’t do such things in the College of Education!


——— Sadly, in among the good news about new people who will be joining the department, we also learned of others who will be leaving. As I indicated last year, Michael Manga decided a year ago to accept an offer of a tenured position at UC-Berkeley and he and his family have departed in July. Our search this coming year in rock physics/fluid mechanics, we hope, will replace some of Michael’s many talents which so many of us benefited from having in-house.

——— We were also surprised list year when Gordon Goles announced his intent to retire at the end of the year just ended, rather than two years hence as he had indicated last year. One of our challenges this past Spring was to clear out the lab and office space Gordon occupied during his 35 years on the UO faculty. Any of you who remember Gordon’s space will recall his tendency to, shall we say, accumulate things. With Gordon leading the charge, help from several graduate students, and me shuttling back and forth to the dumpster, we got the place completely emptied in record time! Gordon has relocated to a smaller office across the hall, still in the Volcanology Building and he officially became an emeritus faculty member during the summer. He will continue teaching one-third time for the next five years before retiring fully. Even then, though, he predicts, and I concur, that he’ll continue teaching on a volunteer basis.

——— The coming year will be Norman Savage’s last as a full time faculty member and, as I indicated at the start of this letter, he has generously agreed to spend it serving as interim Department Head, to provide me with a chance to escape on sabbatical. Like Gordon, Norm will carry on with one-third time teaching for five years after his next summer.

Hiring Plans

——— As I mentioned earlier, and as described elsewhere on this web page, we will run two faculty searches during the coming year. One of these, in paleontology/biogeoscience will be made available by Norm Savage’s upcoming retirement and the other, in rock physics/fluid mechanics came open due to Michael Manga’s departure for Berkeley. Greg Retallack has a greed to chair the former search committee and Ray Weldon, fresh from a sabbatical leave in Bali, will chair the latter search committee. We ran our ads earlier than usual this year and we hope to have these searches concluded by Spring Break. We’ll see!

Faculty Activities

Kathy Cashman continues to be highly visible in her research community and on campus. She is serving as president-elect of the VGP section of the American Geophysical Union in advance of a two year term as president which will begin in Summer, 2002. Kathy also continues to accumulate frequent flyer miles at an impressive rate with round trips to Hawaii, Australia, and Alaska already to her credit this year and trips to Maui and Sicily coming up before New Year’s. Kathy is also breathing a sign of relief for having completed her two year tour-of-duty on the Dean’s Advisory Committee. And, her service as a member of the NSF Petrology & Geochemistry panel is soon to end.

Becky Dorsey continues at her characteristic busy pace. She spent several weeks last winter in the Salton Trough area of southern California where she has an ongoing research project. Closer to home, Becky taught for the first time ever our new half term class in Field Methods and all reports are that is was a great success. Becky also continues to teach Strat/Sed and contribute to the summer Field Camp. In addition, Becky graduated M.S. student Bob Lenegan last Spring and she has several other students still in-progress. For the coming year, Becky, together with Marli Miller, will host sabbatical visitors Suzanne Janecke and Jim Evans who have just arrived from Utah State University. Gene Humphreys passed a major milestone this past year when he achieved the distinguished and highly respected age of 50 (can you tell I’m close myself?!) This event was highlighted by a dinner and dancing party put on by Gene’s wife Monica which itself was highlighted by a extremely funny variation on Shakespeare’s “Taming of the Shrew” concocted by Doug Toomey with cameo appearances by Doug, Emily Hooft, Kathy Cashman, Alex McBirney and Dana Johnston. Gene’s research in the Yellowstone and Rocky Mountain front areas continues apace.

Dana Johnston is getting ready to leave Eugene for a six month sabbatical–just as soon as he finished writing this letter! He’ll spend September through December at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution analyzing mantle melting run products for trace elements on the ion probe. Winter will be largely spent in New Zealand where, of course, it will be summer. Dana also agreed to serve a third three year term as department head provided someone else would cover the first year while he is on sabbatical. Norm Savage generously agreed to invest his final year as a full time faculty member in this way.

Marli Miller has just completed her first year on the tenure track and what a year he had. Marli, and her proposal, were selected for not just one, but two awards for innovative teaching and curriculum development on campus. Her love of and dedication to teaching shines through in everything she does. Marli also organized and taught half of another very successful Summer Field Camp held partly in Montana and partly in central Oregon.

Mark Reed continues with his research at the giant copper deposit at Butte, Montana. Together with Ph.D. student Brian Rusk, Mark has gotten into fluid inclusion microthermometry using an new freezing/heating microscope stage. Mark and Brian, together with a visitor Mark had last winter from University of Alberta, participated in a Gordon Conference in New Hampshire this summer.

Greg Retallack has kept busy with his NSF-funded research on climate change in the John Day area of central Oregon. He is also supervising the research of several graduate students. Greg is particularly excited about the coming year since we will be searching for a new faculty member in his area for the first time in a good many years. Greg will chair this search committee. Greg is also looking forward to a sabbatical leave next year, in 2002-2003.

Jack Rice continues to work 3/4 time in the Provost’s Office so we don’t see him around Cascade Hall as much as we wish. After the coming year, Jack will have just one year remaining before he begins the tenure reduction program which he will participate in for five years before retiring fully. Jack has also been taking the lead in our efforts to replace our electron beam technician. Jack will soon hand off his teaching of Geochemical Thermodynamics to Paul Wallace.

Josh Roering, our new hire during 2000-2001, is expected to arrive in Eugene any day now. Josh spent last year on leave so he could pursue a postdoctoral research opportunity at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch New Zealand. Josh looks forward to getting his office and lab set up so he can begin his new career in earnest. Josh will teach both sections of GEOL-102 for us this coming winter.

Norman Savage is presently stranded in England where he will remain until the U.S. air travel crisis is resolved. Upon his return, he will step into his new role as Department Head, taking over for Dana Johnston while he is on sabbatical leave. The coming year will be Norm’s last as a full time faculty member and we will run a search to replace Norm’s expertise on the faculty.

Doug Toomey is taking leave for Fall and Spring this year and will spend this time in residence at the Tectonophysics Laboratory at University of Montpelier in southern France. He and Emilie Hooft Toomey (and daughter Ebba) are in Iceland as I write where Emilie is running a large NSF-sponsored meeting. From there they will proceed to France. Doug will return during Winter quarter to teach Oceanography which he taught for the first time last year.

Paul Wallace, like Josh Roering, is expected to arrive any day now to begin his career as a member of our faculty. Paul is relocating from College Station, Texas and we expect that he will find his new surroundings, particularly the volcanoes, very much to his liking. We look forward to welcoming Paul and his expertise which is just about perfectly complementary to that of Kathy Cashman, Mark Reed and Dana Johnston. Ray Weldon is back in the saddle again after a very productive sabbatical leave last year, much of which was spent in Bali and other locations in southeast Asia. We missed Ray’s input into departmental matters and it will be good to have him back. Ray will chair our search in Rock Physics. Ray is also in the early stages of establishing a Center for the Study of Geological Hazards.

And finally, Harve Waff’s research continues to get deeper into environmental geophysics. This past summer he was hired by authorities in northern California to help image aquifers in advance of expensive drilling Harve continues to teach the first term of our Introductory Geology sequence as well as classes in Environmental Field Geophysics and Hydrogeology.

2001 Staples Field Excursion The Department ran its first ever Staples Field Excursion during Spring Break last year. Thanks largely to Kathy Cashman’s efforts, 23 of us (19 graduate students and four faculty) enjoyed a spectacular eight day field trip to the big island of Hawaii. As I explained last year, we decided to invest some of the income generated by the Department’s Staples Fund, set up to honor professor emeritus Lloyd Staples, to run a world class field trip like this every three years or so. I think that everyone who participated will agree that it was a once in a lifetime opportunity. Look for e-photos from this trip elsewhere on our web page.

Closing Statement

I see that I have now written on for over five 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.

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