Just an update on my activity since AY13-14 came to a close in May. We ran the CT River course in May with a full-time videographer, former student Paul Barnard, on board both weeks. Chris Koteas team-taught the course with me this year, and a good group of students made things go smoothly – of course knowing that I’m going to be parking my rear end in the stern on flowing water every day does a lot for my sense of serenity. Our goal is to use the footage as part of an effort to develop an online science literacy course built around the basic science that we deal with on the river.
For the first time in more than twenty years I opted not to travel to Italy in the summer, and instead joined Sergio Rocchi at the Goldschmidt Conference in Sacremento, followed by a spectacular trip in the Sierra Nevada Batholith run by Allen Glazner and others. The rocks as fascinating as they were beautiful, and the conversations rose to the same level. Sergio and I worked sporadically on manuscripts, but for the most part, we were soaking in the significance of the range of possibilities of how magmatic systems can vary in terms of how long-lived their chambers may or may not be.
My work with the Council on Undergraduate Research absorbed a week in Washington, D.C. starting with the annual CUR Business Meeting at which I was elected Chair of the At-Large Division. This was followed by the semi-annual CUR meeting at which Karen Andrésen, Amy Woodbury Tease, and Travis Morris joined me so that we could all present a panel on The Mentored Undergraduate Research Program at Norwich University:
A Symbiotic Transformation of Campus Culture (Westerman et al, CUR 2015). Our good friend Kathleen Mullaney from Dominican University kept the discussion lively, and after breaking up into working groups, participants prepared illustrations of their exisiting undergraduate research and faculty development programs and then augmented them to show how they envisioned a future with greater symbiosis.
Fall rolled along, with me keeping the Office of Academic Research running, well actually helping Lisa Brucken keep it running. I had passed on the responsibilities of Faculty Development Coordinator to Lea Williams, so the distribution of the my load in the office changed. Rick Dunn, department chair, was on sabbatical so I covered as chair and taught an intro section. The department interrupted the normal weekly schedule and broke away to western NY in the Thousand Island region for the New York State Geological Association field trips. A great group to travel and camp with, and great geology to see, but next year we’ll return to our normal NEIGC trip that will be hosted at Wesleyan University in CT.
Elga and I had a really fun holiday season as a result of a full invasion of the Georgia crew, including daughter Lisa with husband Mark, younger grandchildren Zeke, Ben and Ella, and older granddaughter Gypsy with husband Trent and the newest great-grandaughter Adalyn. The weather cooperated with full snow cover, and when they all left, we were tired by refreshed.
While I’m chronicling the year, I should mention a couple recent alumni interactions that came as welcome surpises. First was Jeff Gadway reaching out from retirement from the Air Force, and exploring what to do as a second career, and more recently unexpected seat mates at the UMass Boston hockey game when Joe Fiacco and son, along with Larry Mastera walked in and we spied each other. It was really fun to hear about their lives, and how their work at ERM has been going.
CUR Dialogues was great experience this year, with a group of seven traveling to D.C. to learn more about how to be successful in the grant business, interspersed with plenary sessions and general networking that kept us in the know of where academia is in 2015 and where it might be headed. All flights out of D.C. were cancelled as the umpteenth storm blanketed the northeast. An aborted attempt to rent a van and outrace the storm up the coast led to a crowd in the lobby watching Norwich hockey against Southern Maine in the ECAC quarter finals – victorious in with four goals in the third period (finally). We all booked, re-booked, and re-booked until we eventually arrived in Burlington in two batches to find our cars and head for home Sunday night.
Three days later I headed to Wesleyan University to present at a geology colloquium in the Earth and Environmental Sciences Department. It was a great visit, being hosted by Joop Vanderkamp and other faculty, with really good questions from students. I presented essentially our whole Elba story, titling the talk Rise and Fall of a Multi-Sheet Intrusive Complex, Elba Island, Italy. It was a good time for the talk since a review chapter had just been released in a new book in Springer’s Advances in Volcanology series. The book, Physical Geology of Shallow Magmatic Systems, has been edited by colleagues Christoph Breitkreuz from the Freiburg Institute of Geology and Paleontology and Sergio Rocchi from the Department of Earth Sciences, University of Pisa.
I’m now preparing mid-term grades for the Spring semester, with 45 students in my intro class. The course keeps evolving as I become less encyclopedic in my coverage, assigning more and more of the responsibility to the students for content mastery. Class time increasingly involved in-class projects and experiments such as yesterday’s stress-strain study of Charleston Chews where students measured changes in shape as quarters were piled on the suspended ends of bars at different temperatures. Next time, we’ll control the rates, but time ran out to get too sophisticated.