Hello To All:Summer is almost over and the students are back already. We’re a little late getting this newsletter out, due to the comings and goings around here involving sabbatical replacements, hiring of a new geology technician, and summer vacations. Mark has filled you in on all of that. Enjoy the Fall and send your news for our winter edition.
PERSONAL NEWS FROM MARKDear Friends:
The semester has been no less exciting than the previous one, and no less busy. As many of you remember, I served on Faculty Council last Fall, again this Spring and have been re-elected to another two-year term. During that time I’ve gotten to know the President, Dan Sullivan, quite well at least in a business mode, and I still find him to be as knowledgeable an academic leader as I have come across in my 25 years at St. Lawrence. It’s my belief that he is truly dedicated to making the University a first-rate academic institution, and indeed I believe he supports the sciences and understands the sciences as well as any president has in my experience. So experience of working on Faculty Council has been a pleasant one, not only getting to know Dan but to work with colleagues on the Council.
That opportunity was only superseded by my enjoyment of working with Maureen Jones and Chris Sokol as senior thesis students and with some of my independent project students, Tim Woodcock, Kim Garvey, and Judi Keane, all of whom were doing diverse projects that I found very intriguing. Moe, in particular, developed a thesis studying predation on natacid gastropods in the Fox Hills Formation. Moe had prepared that thesis, and in fact presented at our Festival of Science at St. Lawrence, and a week later was due to present it before the North Dakota Academy of Sciences. That opportunity came on April 23rd, which was two days after the dike broke in Grand Forks, and you guessed it, Grand Forks was to be the site of the Academy meeting this year.
Moe and I heard the news while we were on the departmental Spring field trip visiting the Niagara Falls region in New York, and needless to say, we were tremendously disappointed but also shocked to see the extent of the flooding and the damage that was done. Obviously, it affected me because I have such close ties to Grand Forks and to the University of North Dakota. Some of you who took fluvial geology have studied the Red River and its flood history and recognize that the 500 year flood, which is what this one was, would cover most of the city of Grand Forks and also East Grand Forks in Minnesota if the dikes didn’t hold. In fact this flood was greater than 54 feet – flood stage is at 28 feet you’ll recall – and they evacuated both cities at the time that the dikes burst. The evacuation included some alums from St. Lawrence who are graduate students at UND. Trent Hubbard is working on his Ph.D. there in glaciology and Glenn Kays is working on his masters in vertebrate paleontology.
As I understand it there was damage to 72 of the University’s buildings, as well as to most of the homes in Grand Forks. Bud Holland lost everything in his basement, for instance, which is a place that I usually bunk in – that’s where Moe and I were due to stay while we were presenting the paper. Some of you have probably watched the politicians dealing with the flood situation, and not very well I might add, in Washington. One of the figures that I’ve heard and I believe is the figure that this flood displaced more persons than any other flood in US history. That’s an interesting statistic.
I have visited Grand Forks since. I was there for about three hours just passing through early in June as I was doing some field research with John Hoganson. (I’ll speak of that in a minute.) The devastation was truly incredible. Every street that I drove in the city had a pile of rubble on each side about 12 feet high, made up of personal belongings, wall board and insulation, antiques, carpets, and everything that you can possibly imagine that happened to be in the basement, or the first floor in many cases, of houses in Grand Forks. If any of you are looking for work and don’t mind putting up wallboard or running plumbing or electrical cables, or nailing floors, I’m sure you can find work in Grand Forks at the present time, probably for the next year or so. In the geology building at the University, the graduate students were the ones that took the heaviest losses because the basement accumulated about two and a half or three feet of water, and of course the basement is where the graduate student offices are.
On the bright side, Moe did get to present her paper at the Festival of Science (she did a nice job with it) and the Academy of Science meeting has been rescheduled for September 15 and 16. Hopefully she will be able to make the presentation at that time – I will do it otherwise. Maureen is planning to pursue the masters in the area of paleoecology, particularly predation, at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, where Patricia Kelley will be assuming the chair this summer. Tricia’s move from the chair at Grand Forks to the chair at Wilmington, caused Moe to move her application for graduate work from UND to UNC, because of her strong interest in that area of Tricia Kelley’s expertise.
Earlier in April the St. Lawrence Aquarium and Ecological Center held its fourth International Conference on the St. Lawrence River Ecosystem. This year it was held at Potsdam State, and Andy Fetterman and I prepared a paper on mussel extirpation in the St. Lawrence tributaries during the filling of Lake St. Lawrence behind the Robert Moses Power Dam. I presented that paper just before we went on our Spring department field trip. The conference was attended by about 270 people and met with considerable acclaim. As part of the registration packet for the conference, Special Paper Number one of the Aquarium was issued, which happens to be a key to the Grass River mussels that was the result of the independent study done by Kim Garvey and myself. It seems also to be meeting with some interest and success.
After marshaling the trustees through graduation and saying good-byes to the seniors, I hopped a plane for Bismarck where I stayed with John Hoganson of the North Dakota Geological Survey, and we collaborated on a number of research projects. The most significant one, and the reason I went to the field, was to excavate a site in the Fox Hills Formation in Logan County that I have been studying for quite a number of years. In fact, one that the paleontology class last summer excavated for a day or two right at the end of the summer. Bud Holland came out to work with us. Hogie, Bud and I took out another three square meters of sediment and shell material. June is a nice time for field work out there, everything is green, the mosquitoes aren’t out yet, the breezes are nice and the sun is not too hot yet. So all in all, we couldn’t have asked for better field trip weather. We spent three days at the site, then I spent another four or five days at the Heritage Center in Bismarck curating the material, cleaning it and preparing it. We have several new occurrences for the Fox Hills Formation, particularly some new gastropods. There may even be some new species involved. One of the best finds was a number of magnificent specimens showing color patterning on the gastropod shells. They were quite spectacular. We also added some significant specimens to our vertebrate fauna from the Fox Hills Formation which John, Bud and I have published on a number of occasions and for which we are preparing a final monograph. My research was made possible through the Chapin Professorship in Geology at St. Lawrence, which is deeply appreciated.
All told, I was in North Dakota for about two and a half weeks, accomplished quite a bit, would liked to have accomplished more but my appetite is always bigger than the possibilities. One of the pleasant things at the end was a visit with Glenn Kays, who had just returned from his field camp experience in the Black Hills and was soon to depart for the east and then back to North Dakota to do his field work for his master’s thesis at the Ash Coulee Quarry where he is studying the amazing turtle fauna.
Saving the best news for last, I can report that just before finals time, I heard from Lance and Cindy, and Lance has decided to return to Canton to finish his high school education in the Canton school system, so he is currently living with me in Canton. Lance is 15 and a half; he’ll be a sophomore next year. He is as tall as I am, and I’m sure most of you who knew him in the younger days, wouldn’t recognize him today. He’s a really bright young man and I’m enjoying his company a great deal. I’m sure that we’ll have our trials and tribulations as time goes on, but they probably won’t be insurmountable. It’ll certainly be nice to have someone around the house who understands all the ins and outs of computing as he does. We’ve already set up his modem and his computer and he’s plugged into North Net. You can reach him at Lancelot@northnet.org if you need to get a message to him, or in fact to me.
One of the nicest things that happens during the semester is the continual rain of phone calls and e-mails from alums who are keeping in touch. I should try to keep a list of everybody, because I know at the end of the semester I forget contacts that people have made, but I know I’ve heard from Dave Egan, Brett Palmateer, Larry Robjent, who is on a Watson Fellowship in Australia, Brian Silfer, Trent Hubbard, Glenn Kays, Scott Carpenter, John Wyckoff, Dean and Duane Eppler, Holly Snyder Kennedy, indirectly from Kathy Mullaney, Lauren Bailey and all of those people who sent Christmas cards to me, certainly it was good to hear from you.
There have been lots of other highlights of the semester, but many of them are departmental affairs and I have covered them on the Chair’s page. Accomplishments of faculty and students as they have occurred since the last newsletter are described there.
Hope you all have a good Autumn, I’m looking forward to being in contact with as many of you as possible. I probably will not be going to the GSA meeting in the Fall, but more likely the regional meeting in the Spring. Maybe I’ll see some of you there.
E-Mail Addresses Melissa Bartlett- Melissa.Bartlett@Bentley.com
Peter M. Bell- email@example.com
CLASS OF 1997:
Our students continue to be successful, to undertake thesis study and to pursue advanced degrees. Heather Franco graduated suma cum laude as a Geology/Math double major, after completing a thesis with Dr. Willemin. She will attend University of Maine in the Fall. Erik Kent presented his thesis results at the NE GSA last Fall with Cathy Shrady and John Bursnall. He enjoyed the experiences. No doubt he will present others as he continues his study at SUNY Binghamton. Meagan Mazzarino, Chris Sokol and Maureen Jones also prepared theses. Moe was scheduled to give her paper in Grand Forks, ND, on April 23, two days after the city was evacuated due to the 500 year flood! As I noted elsewhere, the meeting was postponed until September. Moe’s thesis was a study of predation on Natacid snails in the Fox Hills formation. She will be continuing her study of predation in the fossil record with Dr. Patricia Kelley at UNC Wilmington. Paul Sanchirico, a combined Geology/Chemistry major will attend Syracuse University Medical School in the Fall.
Eighteen seniors graduated this year five had combined majors with environmental studies; five will attend graduate school. If half of the remaining 13 have jobs, that still leaves half a dozen who have not yet found employment. We would like to begin emphasizing and developing internships for our Geology majors. Particularly, we would like to create post-graduate internships that may lead to career paths. Energy and exploration industries are notably under represented at St. Lawrence, although we have had a long history of excellence in those areas. It is time that our students had a way to access these professions. We will be asking alums to make an effort to provide internship or career entry opportunities for our majors, so please begin to think creatively along those lines and make your suggestions to me.
The 1997-98 academic year will be a unique one because three faculty members will be on sabbatical leave. The Bursnall/Shrady team will be replaced by a Visiting Assistant Professor/Instructor, Stephen Hildreth, who will teach their courses. Steve comes to us from South Carolina where he is completing his Ph.D. Steve will offer a geochemistry course in the Spring Semester to give us some diversity.
To replace Michael Owen during his sabbatical, we have hired Dr. David Griffing (‘83) to teach Sedimentology, Historical Geology, Sed. Pet. and some electives. Dave has a strong background in Sed./Strat./Paleo., therefore he will compliment our softrock program. His Ph.D. is from SUNY Binghamton after which he served as Director of Education for the Paleontological Research Institution.
Our final staffing change is a result of Phil Royce’s resignation as Geology Technician to work in St. Lawrence’s Outdoor Program. To replace Phil we have hired Matt VanBrocklin. Currently working in Oregon, Matt is a native of Russell, New York who holds his Bachelors degree from SUNY Potsdam and Masters from University of Dayton. Matt has the interest and skills to help us develop our computer facilities within the department. We look forward to having him work with us.
FUNDS AND FUNDING:
Alumni and friends continue to remember the Geology Department by their specified donations. The Susan Ferguson lecturer this year was Dr. William Ausich, Chair of the department at Ohio State University. Bill presented a very informative lecture about crinoid taphonomy. It continues to be important for our students to hear and to meet experts from all fields of Geology.
Research and travel by two students was supported this year by the Jim Street Student Research Fund. Maureen Jones and Erik Kent both presented thesis research as noted previously. This fund is currently valued in excess of $20,000 producing approximately $1,000 each year. The new university emphasis on senior research means that we will be calling on the Jim Street Fund even more in the future. Because of this, we would like to keep this fund growing. If you wish to donate, your funds must be clearly designated for the Jim Street fund and are best channeled through the department chair. Those who have made gifts this year have our thanks and deep appreciation. I believe that St. Lawrence no longer credits these gifts toward the Annual Giving fund so I doubly appreciate your generosity knowing that you are probably being “dinged” for that fund as well! Thank you for the effort.
1998 ALUMNI CONFERENCE:
In the Winter edition of the Newsletter we asked for both ideas and volunteers to help us structure the 1998 SLUGAC. Thus far we are long on ideas but short on volunteers!! The idea that seems to have merit is to return to our roots as it were by emphasizing “Exploration Geology” in its many forms during this conference. We would like to have current students exposed to the challenges, the ideas, the “real world” of geological exploration. To do this the department will use Ferguson Lecture and R.O. Bloomer lecture funds to bring significant keynote speakers from the exploration industries to the Conference. The meeting has proven to be a fine place for alums to network with each other as well as to meet students and to discuss career options with them.
Structure of the conference will probably be similar to those past, unless there are alternative suggestions. Geology or work-related talks by alums, presentations by seniors and perhaps faculty, career panels, and meetings of the Alumni Advisory Council plus the excellent banquet and awards ceremony associated with the Bloomer Lecture will provide most of the events. Put early October, 1998, on your calendars and let us hear from you if you can help organize.
Summer will likely be over by the time this reaches you! If not, we all wish you good summer fun and a pleasant Autumn.
Updated August 31, 1997