Skip to Content

Department Head’s Letter, Fall 2002

Another year has passed and once again there is lots of news to share. Before getting to it though, I want to express my thanks to Norman Savage who very generously invested his final year as a full time faculty member in the department last year serving as our department head, enabling me to get away for a two term sabbatical leave. But, I’m back in the saddle again and one of the first things I want to do is share with you the news of what transpired last year under Norm’s able direction

Comings and Goings

Comings Once again we had a busy year in the hiring area. We ran two searches, one in paleontology/biogeoscience and the other in rock physics/continuum mechanics, and couldn’t be more excited with the individuals who were recruited. For the former opening, we hired Dr. Ryosuke Motani, a vertebrate paleontologist who is arguably one of the top experts in the evolution and biomechanics of ichthyosaurs. Ryosuke received his Ph.D. from the University of Toronto and was then a post-doc, first in the Miller Research Institute at UC-Berkeley and the at the Royal Ontario Museum. Ryosuke and his wife Yoko and daughter Halka have just arrived and are busy finding there way about town and on campus. For our second opening we were very pleased to hire Dr. David Schmidt, and expert in the study of continental deformation by remote sensing geodetic techniques. David completed his dissertation at UC-Berkeley this past spring with a focus on the development and application of INSAR data to problems in continental margin deformation. With our encouragement, David chose to delay beginning his duties with us for one year while he takes advantage of a postdoctoral research opportunity at Stanford that will involve him much more deeply than his dissertation work did in the design and use of GPS networks.

Before leaving the topic of hiring, I’m happy to also announce the hire of John Donovan who arrived in January to take over the operation of our electron microbeam facility. John came to us from UC-Berkeley where he managed a similar facility and he hit the ground running. He soon had the instruments tuned up and the software updated and both the SEM and electron probe are now operating in ways we never before imagined were possible. John has also proven himself to be very proactive and is well along in the process of putting together proposals to replace both instruments with newer, state-of-the-art versions. John is a great addition to the department and has already earned himself a following among grateful students and faculty alike.

Goings ……… In among the good news about new people who will be joining the department, I regret that we also have news of others who have left. We were saddened in October by the death of Lloyd Staples at age 93. Lloyd first joined the department in 1938 and was a central figure both the department and the College for many decades, including his service as our department head for ten years prior to his retirement in 1973.

……… This will be Norman Savage’s first year of one-third time service, a level he will remain at for five years before retiring permanently. Norm relocated his operation to a smaller space on the third floor of Cascade Hall to make his former space available to Ryosuke Motani and his ichthyosaurs. Norm will continue teaching his Evolution of the Earth (GEOL 203) and Paleontology I (GEOL 4/531) classes and, I am sure, will remain active in research and scholarship. And, in among it all, I expect that he and Barbara will continue to pursue their interest in travel. Hiring Plans ……… After several successive years of reporting on “last year’s hiring” you’re probably beginning to wonder when it will end. Well….prepare for more since we have just launched another search for the coming year. Our ad can be found elsewhere on this web site but suffice it to say that this time we’re looking for a low- to moderate-temperature geochemist who works in the crust or near-surface environment. We also hope that this person will build a laboratory appropriate for his or her research focus. Mark Reed will chair the search committee which will have as additional members Greg Retallack and Paul Wallace. Stay tuned for more on this next year!

Faculty Activities

Kathy Cashman is well into the first year of a two year term as president of the VGP section of the American Geophysical Union. Kathy also had some noteworthy success at NSF with two, three-year grants funded at the same time from the same program! One of these is shared with Paul Wallace. This, of course, is good since the number of graduate students with interests in volcanology continues to grow. Kathy and Paul are sharing several students and collaborations such as these are sure to continue. Kathy’s frequent flyer account continues to grow with trips to Ecuador, Hawaii, and Australia just this summer!

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. In fact, this very project was funded by NSF last winter. Becky has also taken on a term on the Tectonics Panel at NSF and, closer to home, she has taken over as chairperson of our departmental curriculum committee.

Gene Humphreys. You’ll recall my report on Gene’s 50th birthday party last year. Well, Gene has proven that life continues after this important milestone. His long term project aimed at tomographically imaging the “action” beneath Yellowstone is winding down but his efforts to understand origin of the Rocky Mountain front continue. In fact he just had a NSF grant funded for a collaborative study involving others from MIT, Rice, and the Universities of Massachusetts, New Mexico, Texas, and Wyoming.

Dana Johnston in readjusting after a spectacular sabbatical leave which took him to Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution last fall to analyze mantle melting run products for trace elements on the ion probe. He spent winter geo-touring in new Zealand and Western Australia. He recently regained the reins of the department and will serve as department this coming year and next year.

Marli Miller continues to be a campus leader in efforts to improve the classroom experience for students in large introductory classes. She received funding from the Williams Foundation to expand her pilot program of several years ago in which she runs parallel small-enrollment classes together with the main large class. Marli is also supervising several graduate student’s research and continues to direct and teach half of our field camp.

Mark Reed and Ph.D. student Brian Rusk are gaining all sorts of new insight into the mechanics of ore deposit formation by studying samples from the giant Butte, Montana deposit using cathodoluminesence imaging on our scanning electron microscope. Mark is also busy helping to plan a scientific drill hole in Iceland.

Greg Retallack did a great job running the paleontology search committee that identified Ryosuke Motani as our candidate of choice. Greg has long felt that we needed a vertebrate paleontologist and, I am sure, is greatly looking forward to collaborating with Ryosuke. Greg continues with his NSF-funded work in central Oregon and is presently supervising the Ph.D. research of several students. He has hopes to return to Antarctica before long.

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. Jack’s biggest news is that he is now into his final year as a full time faculty member, before taking phased retirement and moving his efforts “over the hill” to the UO program on the campus in Bend. Jack will leave a difficult hole to fill.

Josh Roering is just starting his second year with us and did a great job last year with GEOL 102 and a seminar in tectonic geomorphology. He’s been busily setting up his research operation and is already supervising both undergraduate and graduate student research. His biggest news however is on the personal front. He and his wife Michele moved into a new home not long ago and had a cute baby boy named Oscar in early September.

Ryosuke Motani just arrived in early September. He’s fully occupied at the moment transferring his professional life from cardboard boxes into his new office/lab complex. Ryosuke managed to get a five year NSF CAREER proposal submitted prior to even arriving here and he is now awaiting word on whether it will be funded.

Norman Savage wrapped up his full time duties in the department in June and then launched in to a summer full of travel. A vacation trip to the Mediterranean preceded and professional trip to Thailand. Norm has relocated to smaller quarters and is up and running again. Norm will be a 1/3-time employee for five years before retiring fully. He did a great job as department head during his last year accomplishing, among many other things, the hire of Ryosuke.

David Schmidt, our newest hire in remote sensing/continental deformation, will spend this year at Stanford University doing postdoctoral research. We look forward to his arrival next September.

Doug Toomey spend fall term in Montpelier, France collaborating with researchers there that he had worked with before on a project in Oman. He, Emily and daughter Ebba thoroughly enjoyed themselves. But duty called and they returned at New Year’s, anticipating the arrival in spring of their second child. But, Doug has never been one to do things half-heartedly so he and Emily had twins instead, John and Sofie. Doug continues as director of the Computational Science Institute.

Paul Wallace, our new volcanologist, is about to begin his second year with us. He had a busy first year, setting up his FTIR laboratory. No sooner was it installed and calibrated and the graduate students were lined up to use it. Paul complements Kathy Cashman beautifully and between them we have a very strong program in volcanology. Good thing too since we get lots of applications from graduate students with interests in this field!

Ray Weldon did a great job chairing the search committee in rock physics/continuum mechanics which identified David Schmidt as our candidate of choice. Ray continues with his NSF summer field camp in central Asia, and well as with his work on the San Andreas system in California. And finally, Harve Waff’s research remains in the area of� environmental geophysics. Having passed that 60th birthday milestone, he finds himself looking in greater detail into the ins-and-outs of retirement–can you blame him??!

Staff Activities

I am very pleased to report that our office staff has remained stable over the past year with Wanda, official DoGS “mom” at the helm, Dave, our resident sports fanatic and furniture mover in the position of accountant, and Pat, the bicycle theives’ nemesis, in the front office. And, Lorrie Suskin continues to staff our this section lab half time and, as indicated earlier in this newsletter, John Donovan has filled the position formerly occupied by Michael Shaffer in our electron microbeam facility. 2001 Staples Field Excursion Following our spectacularly successful field excursion to Hawaii in March, 2001, we are now contemplating our next such trip. Although several ideas have been floated, a trip to Iceland in September, 2003 is starting to sound like a real possibility.

Closing Statement

We have another busy year ahead of us with an important new hire and I expect that I’ll have lots of good news to share with you again next year.With luck we’ll have just returned from Iceland with another digital photo library of spectacular geological scenery to share with you. Best wishes–Dana Johnston

Skip to toolbar