During the Keck Geology Consortium Symposium, participants explored the Bulls Bridge area in Kent, Conn. to learn about the importance of a knickpoint (change in gradient) on the Housatonic River. Participants also examined interesting formations of glacial pot holes. (Photos by James Zareski)
From April 27-30 the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences hosted the 30th Annual Keck Geology Consortium Symposium at Wesleyan. The event involved several field trips to local sites of geographic significance and concluded with presentations at Exley Science Center from those who attended the field trips.
Graduate student Melissa Luna examines a piece of slag left behind from the Buena Vista Iron Furnace in Canaan, Conn. Iron furnaces were an important industry in Connecticut during the 19th century.
The first trip was led by Paul Olsen, the Arthur D. Storke Memorial Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Columbia University. This excursion examined the Connecticut River Valley Basin for remaining traces of the mass extinction that preceded the rise of the dinosaurs 202 million years ago.
“The Connecticut River Valley Basin is one of the best places on the planet to observe the record of the biological and environmental of this mass extinction,” said Suzanne O’Connell, professor of earth and environmental sciences.
The second trip was led by Will Ouiment, assistant professor of geography at the University of Connecticut. It focused on the evolution of the New England landscape from the late Pleistocene to the present. Some topics included the impact of human activities, historic land use practices and landscape adjustment following deglaciation. The trip stopped at a variety of features including waterfalls, beaver dams, river terraces and wetlands.
Suzanne O’Connell, right, with Ed Laine ’69 and Kerry Brenner ’94 at a National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine workshop.
Suzanne O’Connell, professor of earth and environmental sciences, faculty director of the McNair Program, together with Ed Laine ’69 and Kerry Brenner ’94, attended a National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine (NAS) workshop in Washington, D.C. on April 20-21. The three were involved in a report on Service Learning in the Geosciences.
O’Connell presented the report at the meeting.
Laine, recently retired from Bowdoin College, was on the meeting steering committee, while Brenner, a senior program officer in the Board on Science Education in the Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education (NAS) coordinated the meeting.
A summary of the workshop will be published as a book by the National Academies Press in fall 2016.
Suzanne O’Connell, professor of earth and environmental sciences, faculty director of the McNair program, is the author of a new op-ed appearing on Inside Sources and The Hartford Courant, in which she urges aggressive action to counteract climate change.
O’Connell acknowledges the difficulty in communicating the urgency of climate change, and writes that one way she’s found to express this to her students is to liken climate change to cancer. That is, it is the rapid rate at which we are introducing greenhouse gases into the atmosphere—much like the accelerated rate of cell growth in cancer—that is so harmful.
Cancer progresses at different rates in different patients and requires different treatments. Once diagnosed, however, aggressive measures are taken to stop the process. And the earlier treatment starts, the better the prognosis. Why aren’t we taking the same aggressive measures to limit our greenhouse-gas production? Because it’s too difficult or too costly? The same might be said for cancer treatment, yet most people take the aggressive option.
Maybe we are failing to take action because just as in the early stages of cancer, the early stages of global warming aren’t too obvious. Not yet. Few people, if any, wake up one morning knowing they have cancer. There are analyses and tests to be conducted first.
We’ve already done that work with regard to our climate, we have those analyses and tests. We know that air, land and ocean temperatures are rising. The warming ocean and melting ice contribute to sea level rise. Our wait-and-see attitude makes as much sense as waiting to see if the cancer spreads before undergoing treatment. What will a few degrees of warming do to a planet? To a human body?
Suzanne O’Connell, professor of earth and environmental sciences, received the Exchange Award from the Association for Women Geoscientists at its annual awards breakfast on Nov. 2. The Exchange Award recognizes the contribution of those who exchange technical, education, and professional information in the field.
The award ceremony took place at the Baltimore Convention Center in Maryland in conjunction with the Geological Society of America’s annual meeting. O’Connell is also faculty director of the McNair Program.
According to Blair Schneider, president of the Association for Women Geoscientists, O’Connell won the organization’s Outstanding Educator Award in 2000. Since then, she has been an active member of the group’s Outstanding Educator Award committee, and has continually written articles highlighting the winners for the group’s quarterly newsletter. In explaining O’Connell’s selection for the Exchange award, Schneider pointed to her rare “exemplary teaching” in which she uses “hands-on learning with research for undergraduates.”
“Suzanne is also an incredible supporter of the organization and exchanges information about who we are to her own students and young professionals at every meeting. For example, she pays to bring her own students to the AWG awards breakfast so that they can learn about the organization and see women being recognized for their achievements,” Schneider added.
For her distinguished contributions to the geosciences, Suzanne O’Connell, professor of earth and environmental sciences, recently became a Fellow of the Geological Society of America.
Society Fellowship is an honor bestowed on leading professional geoscientists. New fellows are nominated by existing GSA fellows in recognition of their contributions to the geosciences through such avenues as publications, applied research, teaching, administration of geological programs, contributing to the public awareness of geology, leadership of professional organizations, and taking on editorial, bibliographic and library responsibilities.
“Suzanne O’Connell is an accomplished geoscientist who highly honors the traditions of research and scholarship in the geosciences, but also pays great attention to the societal well-being of the community, reflected by her service in professional societies, her work in policy, and her persistent and caring attention to students,” said GSA fellow and nominator Marilyn Suiter MA ’81.
At Wesleyan, O’Connell teaches courses in the geosciences
The geoscience workforce has a lower proportion of women compared to the general population of the United States and compared to many other STEM fields. This volume explores issues pertaining to gender parity in the geosciences, and sheds light on some of the best practices that increase participation by women and promote parity.
Highlights include lessons from the National Science Foundation-ADVANCE; data on gender composition of faculty at top earth science institutions in the U.S.; implicit bias and gender as a social structure; strategies for institutional change; dual career couples; family friendly policies; the role of mentoring in career advancement for women; recruiting diverse faculty and models of institutional transformation.
O’Connell’s chapters are titled “Multiple and Sequential Mentoring: Building Your Nest”; “Learning to Develop a Writing Practice“; “Hiring a Diverse Faculty”; and “Lactation in the Academy: Accommodating Breastfeeding Scientists.”
O’Connell also is the faculty director of the McNair Program.
Graduate student Austin Reed presented his first results for his MA thesis at the American Geophysical Union conference. Reed and his advisor, Johan Varekamp, are examining the evolution of two large explosive volcanic eruptions in the Greek arc.
Three faculty members from Earth and Environmental Sciences, as well as two graduate students and two undergraduate students, presented their research at the annual conference of the American Geophysical Union (AGU) in San Francisco, Calif., Dec. 5-7. The conference drew more than 20,000 scientists and policy makers from around the world.
Associate Professors Suzanne O’Connell and Dana Royer, Assistant Professor Phillip Resor, and Austin Reed MA-candidate, Rosemary Ostfeld BA ‘10/MA ‘12, and Julia Mulhern ’12 all attended. In addition, a poster by Katherine Shervais ’13, was also presented.
“Our research in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences is so diverse, and it is exciting to see Wesleyan faculty, students, and alumni contributing to technical sessions spread across many of the AGU sections,” Resor says.
Suzanne O’Connell, associate professor of earth and environmental sciences, director of the Service Learning Center, received a grant worth $21,000 from the Keck Geology Consortium on April 27. The award will support an undergraduate research project titled “Sediment Dynamics in the Lower Connecticut River” this summer.
Ed Laine ’69, Suzanne O’Connell and Tim Ku attended a Teaching Service Learning in the Geosciences workshop.
Suzanne O’Connell, associate professor of earth and environmental sciences, director of the Service Learning Center, and Edward Laine ’69, associate professor of earth and oceanographic science at Bowdoin College, organized a virtual workshop on service learning through the National Science Foundation in early 2010.
Several participants met in person at the fall American Geophysical Union (AGU) national meeting in fall 2010. Timothy Ku, associate professor of earth and environmental science, one of virtual workshop participants, presented information about his service learning course “Environmental Geochemistry” at the AGU meeting. Laine, O’Connell, and Ku are pictured above at the AGU meeting.
Suzanne O’Connell, associate professor of earth and environmental sciences, associate professor of environmental studies, director of the Service Learning Center, received a $21,850 grant from the Keck Geology Consortium to support the “Connecticut River Project.” The award is effective through June 30, 2011.
Suzanne O’Connell, associate professor of earth and environmental sciences, director of the Service Learning Center, will be the K. Douglas Nelson Lecture Series keynote speaker at Syracuse University April 22. Her title is “Weddell Sea Sediment, ODP Site 694: One Clue to Antarctica’s Past.”
The event is sponsored by Syracuse’s Department of Earth Sciences.
A presentation titled, “After Climategate: Rethinking Climate Science and Climate Policy” was held March 25 in the Public Affairs Center. Faculty panelists examined a variety of issues surrounding the recent news media accounts known as “Climategate” which impugned some of the findings of the IPPC’s 4th Assessment Report.