A Message from the Chair

Dear Alumni and Friends of Earth and Planetary (Geological) Sciences, School of Arts and Sciences, Rutgers University,

For those of you that may not be aware, this past summer I took over as Chair of the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences from Ken Miller. Ken, who after serving us all tremendously well for the past nine years, had decided to rotate off, to devote more time to the offshore New Jersey Drilling Project which was in full "bore" in 2009. Ken agreed to stay on as vice-chair and graduate program director to help with the transition, sharing his nine years of experience on the job. Another major change in the department in 2009, was the return of Mike Carr, who for the past nine years had served off and on as SAS' Dean of Mathematical and Physical Sciences. We welcome Mike's fulltime return to the Department.

For the past six years, I served as the department vice-chair and graduate program director, and have enjoyed the excitement as well as witnessed the growth pangs as the department grew and doubled in size. The department now consists of 23 Ph.D. tenure– tenure track faculty, 4 active emeriti faculty, 4 Ph.D. research faculty/staff, plus 3 Ph.D. adjuncts in residence. The faculty is quite diverse and includes 3 NAS members, and shared faculty with the Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences, Environmental Sciences, and Anthropology. During 2009, over 40 EPS research papers were published in top tier journals, numerous kudos and awards were received, and a number of important research grants were awarded. Recognition highlights for 2009, include Dennis Kent, who was the recipient of the 2009 William Gilbert Award, presented by AGU's Geomagnetism and Paleomagnetism Section for recognition to outstanding research and service to the field; and, Nathan Yee, who received the Houterman Medal, on behalf of the European Association for Geochemistry, awarded for excellence in research by a scholar under 33 years of age.

The department's graduate program also grew in numbers and diversity in 2009. Over the past couple of years the program has jumped from 18 to 30 students. Astounding for a geological department of our size, almost 2/3 of the students are women, and 1⁄2 come from outside the U.S., representing China, Columbia, Costa Rica, India, Indonesia, Iran, Italy, Russia, Trinidad, Turkey, and Venezuela. Graduate student support was possible through fellowships from Rutgers Graduate School of New Brunswick, Department teaching assistantships, grant funded research assistantships, and oil industry support through ExxonMobil, TPAO, and PDVSA. The quality of our graduate students continues to improve and we regularly compete with the top programs in the country for the best students. Your contributions greatly helped us send many students to GSA and AGU to present papers (see various reports below) and to engage in laboratory and field studies. The cost of attending national meetings has skyrocketed and without your help travel to meetings would not be feasible. We feel that early exposure to colleagues in the field and experience in presenting scientific results is crucial to a solid education. In 2009, we awarded 3 Ph.D.s and 2 M.S. degrees, and as of this Fall, all have accepted jobs

Department of Earth & Planetary Sciences

Wright-Rieman Bldg., Room 250 Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey 610 Taylor Road Piscataway, NJ 08854

with industry or are now post-doctoral fellows. Our graduate students help put us on the map. Our Ph.D.'s are well represented in industry (ExxonMobil, Chevron) and academia (Michigan State, LDEO, Wisconsin, RPI, RU, Queens, Appalachian State, University of Iceland, Georgia State) amongst others.

Our undergraduate major remains small, and varies from about 25 to 30 students. Our minors in geology are steady, with about 45 currently declared. Our contribution to undergraduate education at Rutgers, far exceeds our size. We reached a milestone this past year by teaching 4,000 of the 20,000 undergraduates in the School of Arts and Sciences. Over 95% of these students are non-science majors, fulfilling their university science requirements. Our department is noted for its excellent teaching, with exemplary teaching rankings of greater than 4.2/5.0.

As you are most likely aware, Rutgers along with most universities is feeling the sting of the country's economic woes, but thankfully, at least so far, Rutgers is faring better than most institutions. Although we were lean to begin with, an 11% budget cut for 2008, 5% this year (lessened to an influx of federal stimulus funds), and a projected 7.5% cut for 2010, we have had to tighten our belts. None-the-less, through contributions from you, through a number of new research grants and awards to faculty and staff, and additional directed university and SAS funding, the department has been able to make a number of improvements this year.

We were able to secure $180,000 from SAS for the construction of the new Richard Fairbank's mass spectrometry facility. Richard Fairbanks, Jim Wright and Rick Mortlock will

oversee this facility. The renovation tripled the size of the existing stable isotope lab and will house 4 mass spectrometers brought to Rutgers by Fairbanks and Mortlock from LDEO and the Carnegie Institute. The facility will not only increase research productivity, but will permit the department to expand into coral/U- series work championed by Fairbanks and Mortlock at LDEO before coming to Rutgers this past year. Two of these mass spectrometers are quite large and caused quite a commotion this past Fall as they were hoisted by crane through a window, being too large to fit in Wright Labs freight elevator!

Another major development this past Fall, was that after years of struggling with poor and rapidly deteriorating conditions of our Livingston warehouse space, the department was awarded $500k of stimulus related funds, directed through Rutgers/SAS. These monies are being used to renovate and expand the department's Core Repository.

Department of Earth & Planetary Sciences

Wright-Rieman Bldg., Room 250 Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey 610 Taylor Road Piscataway, NJ 08854

Following the sudden collapse of a 10-foot section of roof last Spring, Rutgers has come through with a new roof for the repository just completed this December. This Spring, new windows and doors and major repairs on the exterior siding will be made. As part of this renovation, the Core Repository will expand from its present location in building 4108 into about 7000 sqft of space previously occupied by Physics. The $500k will be used for internal renovation of the Core Repository, slated to begin January, 2010. This renovation was a result of a long drawn out period of negotiations and we thank Deans Doug Greenberg, Kathryn Uhrich, Todd Bristol, Physics Chair Torgny Gustafsson, VP Tony Calcado and architect Chris Hack for making this happen. The renovated space will permit consolidation of EPS' cores and provide well-lit storage and layout space for core analysis. Contributions from alumni, including a special donation from Alex Kulpecz, will go toward the purchase of research equipment needs and internal improvements for the Core Repository.

We were also able to update much of our computing infrastructure in 2009. SAS awarded the department with almost $30K this past year to improve geophysics computing, to provide software and computing enhancements to EPS' new microprobe facility discussed in last years Redbeds, new computers for student use, and for a microscope imaging system for instructional use. Funds were also provided for new conference tables and chairs and for front office improvements.

We are also pleased to announce, that beginning this past summer, we have joined forces with Kathy Scott of the School of Education for day-to-day operation and development of the Geology Museum, which had been terribly understaffed and under budgeted for many years. Lauren Neitzke-Adamo, one of our finishing Ph.D. students joined the museum staff to help and will be working with us to further develop and enhance the museum. All of this came this past Spring as a result of budgetary cutbacks and the retirement of Bill Selden who was curator of the Geology Museum for the past 33 years. What first started out last Spring as a fear that Geology Museum would close to budgetary cutbacks, now appears that working jointly with the School of Education, the museum will be better staffed, and will be able to make badly needed improvements as well.

Our long-term space issues remain unresolved. This past summer, we were able to alleviate a bit of our immediate space issue due to our continued growth by gaining seven new offices for graduate students in adjacent Doolittle Annex, located next to our Green Building across from Wright Labs. A new building for the department remains elusive. We are awaiting news of a potential $55M university match for a new building contingent on awarding of a $15M proposal to NIST this past summer by EPS and shared faculty and colleagues at IMCS. While this option is in progress, we continue to explore possibilities of expanding into space occupies by Chemistry in Wright Labs as part of their quest for a new Chemistry building.

To keep you up to date on what is happening in the department, we have revised the home page of our website, posting current department events, colloquia and seminars, EPS highlights, newly published research by EPS faculty, staff and students as well as awards and kudos. If you have not had a chance to visit us recently, check us out at

Department of Earth & Planetary Sciences

Wright-Rieman Bldg., Room 250 Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey 610 Taylor Road Piscataway, NJ 08854

http://geology.rutgers.edu/. I try to personally update news and events almost daily, so don't forget to bookmark us. We will be adding additional features in the months ahead and there are still many unfinished pages and links, so bear with us and stay tuned.

Lastly, we would love to hear from you. If you have news to share or would just like to drop us a note by e-mail or post, please do so. If you have address changes or would like to be put on our e-mail list please return via post or e-mail your contact information. I have added a short form below for your convenience. We have initiated an alumni page (http://geology.rutgers.edu/alumni.shtml), currently with a brief history of the department as well as links to past Redbeds Newsletters. We will be adding a section for alumni posts if you would like to send us a note, text or pic, you would like to share with other alumni, and are in the process of setting up a facebook page that will be linked to the website.

If you have weathered the economic downturn, and are able to help, please consider making a contribution to the department. I have outlined below a few department funds that primarily go to help undergraduate and graduate research, travel, field studies, and to acknowledge excellence in student academics and research. Any contributions, small or large are appreciated.

Please feel free to contact me personally by e-mail at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call me at 732-445-2044 if I can be of any help or you have any questions.

Dr. Carl C. Swisher III
Professor and Chair Earth and Planetary Sciences