2017 A Rockin’ Year for Geosciences

Posted On December 18, 2017
Categories Headlines, Uncategorized

Dear Friends of Geosciences,

As 2017 comes to a close, it’s exciting to reflect on the accomplishments of our students and faculty–and to look ahead to the changes in store for the Department of Geosciences in 2018. First, the year in numbers: our department hosts over 120 majors in the BA/BS degrees with concentrations in Geography, Geology, Environmental Geosciences, and Urban Studies, enrolls almost 50 graduate students in the MS degree and hosts numerous students in our certificate programs in GIS and Water Science. In 2017, we graduated almost 60 undergraduate and graduate Geoscientists! We are so proud of the accomplishments of our students. Here are just a few:

Some highlights from 2017:

During the summer, John Bankhead completed his thesis related to determining the origin of Boulder Batholith and the Pioneer Mountains in Montana. His analyses show that crystal fractionation is a dominant process in the creation of the magmatic diversity found in these plutonic bodies.


Tim Herold received a Geological Society of America Graduate Student Research Grant to determine the mechanics and emplacement mechanisms of Dacitic-Rhyolitic lava flows in NW Costa Rica. tim-herold Russ Kirn concluded his field work in the Talamanca Range in Costa Rica. His project studies the development of silicic magmas with a broadly continental characteristic, which is a central frontier in understanding the initial production of continental lithosphere. russ-kirn Graduate Student Anjelica Guerrier produced a tephroestratigraphic column for two volcanic centers in Central Costa Rica (Poas and Barca volcanoes). The abundant C14 dates calculated during her research allows for this column to be used as a ͞Rosetta Stone that could help to sort out the interfingering of volcanic deposits and produce more accurate volcanic hazard maps. anjelica-guerrier Congratulations to Chelsea Bush (B.S. 2016), who was a recipient of an internship through the National Association of Geoscience Teachers (NAGT)/U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Cooperative Summer Field Training Program. Chelsea worked with Denis LeBlanc at the Cape Cod hydrologic research station over the summer of 2017. chelseabush Current MS student Anamarie Shreeves was selected for the Resilient Urban Latin America (RULA) Research Experience for Students (IRES) program, which will take her to Valdivia, Chile, for six weeks in 2018 to advance her research on material waste systems, study the physical and social implications of the current waste infrastructure and develop qualitative research to determine solutions to the city’s waste management.



The Department of Geosciences was well represented at the 2017 GSA Annual Meeting in Seattle, WA (22-25 October). Students who presented the results of their research included Fatia Balogun, John Bankhead, Vicky Cheruiyo, David Davis, Anjelica Guerrier, Lanier Henson, Tim Herold, Drew Jackson, Marlen Maldonado, Karim Minkara, Benjamin Opiyo, and Nate Rabideaux. In addition, research presentations included faculty contributions from Dan Deocampo, Olga Jarrett, Pamela Gore, Paulo Hidalgo, Brian Meyer, and Christy Visaggi.


Geosciences Faculty and Students Researching Global Urban Water

Geosciences assistant professors Dr. Richard Milligan and Dr. Ellis Adams (also a faculty member in the Global Studies Institute) are working with students to research urban water conflicts. Among the most recent faculty members to join Geosciences, Adams and Milligan presented the first phase of this collaboration at the Southeastern Division of the American Association of Geographers conference in a special session they organized with Geosciences Masters student Scott Raulerson. sedaag2017 Geosciences students C. Cartagena, Hannah Stefanoff, and Nicole Vermillion will also present research in this session on ͞Hydrosocial Geographies in the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint (ACF) River Basin. Building from this successful collaboration, Adams and Milligan have just been awarded a $10,000 International Collaborative Research Grant from GSU’s Urban Studies Institute for a project titled, ͞Urban Growth, Neoliberal Failures and Water Scarcity in Accra and Atlanta.͟ This spring they will be interviewing key stakeholders in water governance in Atlanta and throughout the ACF basin, home to the longest interstate legal conflict over water in US history. In the summer, the research grant will allow them to travel to Accra, Ghana to study water governance issues, including neoliberal failures of water privatization. Geosciences Chair Katherine Hankins and Milligan have co-organized with Dr. Emanuela Guano (GSU Anthropology) presentations by more than a dozen scholars from around the globe for the American Association of Geographers conference in New Orleans this spring. Geosciences Masters students Scott Raulerson and Tammy Spikes will be among the presenters in these sessions on ͞Race, Class, and Watershed Politics in the City.͟

Other faculty accomplishments

Professor Paulo Hidalgo, Lecturer in Geosciences, recently completed the second edition of the Landforms Lab Manual , which is being published by Kendall Hunt this year. This Manual has many improvements over the first edition, including improved figures, a modern look and enhanced laboratory, which fuels the curiosity of introductory geoscience students. lab-manualProfessor Christy Visaggi, Lecturer and Undergraduate Coordinator in Geosciences, was recently awarded a Norman Newell Early Career Research Grant from the Paleontological Society. In addition she received the Signature Experience Teaching Award from GSU in 2017. Her MS student Ashley Little (pictured here)christy-and-ashley received a GSA Graduate Research Grant for her proposed work on microplastics in mangrove sediments. Dr. Visaggi has a book chapter in press: Kelley, P.H., Dietl, G.P., and Visaggi, C.C., Training tomorrow’s conservation paleobiologists, in Tyler, C.L. and Schneider, C.L.,editors, Topics in Geobiology: Marine Conservation Paleobiology. And, most importantly, Dr. Visaggi welcomed baby Oscar into the family, who joins older brother Salvatore.christy-and-oscar Professor Brian Meyer was awarded a grant through the St. Catherine’s Island Foundation ($3,000) to evaluate the impacts of Hurricane Matthew to the shoreline and near-shore environments of St. Catherine’s Island, Georgia. Dr. Meyer has also recently been awarded a grant ($26,000) through NOAA’s Climate Program Office, entitled ͞Hidden Infrastructure: Onsite Wastewater Disposal and Sea-level Rise͟. Dr. Meyer will work with UGA’s Carl Vinson Institute of Government to evaluate risks to on-site wastewater treatment systems by modeling sea level rise impacts to the shallow groundwater system in Bryan County, Georgia through the 21st century. dr-meyers-class-on-the-coast Dr. Jeremy Diem received a three-year $400,000 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) Geography and Spatial Sciences Program to explore how Congo moisture affects rainfall and decision making in western Uganda. More on that here.

nadine Dr. Nadine Kabengi continued to develop her research on the thermodynamics of interfacial chemical processes and their theoretical and applied interpretations. She received several prestigious invitations to present her work, including most recently to the Arab-American Frontiers of Science, Engineering, and Medicine Symposium in Morocco and the Gordon Research Conference in Stowe, Vermont. And in the classroom, Dr. Kabengi led an innovative Senior Seminar class in which students were tasked with ͞Greening Ted Turner Drive.͟ In groups that represented the range of social and physical sciences training and expertise in the Department of Geosciences, students developed proposals to improve the physical and social infrastructure of a major thoroughfare in downtown Atlanta.


Dr. Crawford Elliot recently published a manuscript in Clays and Clay Minerals: Kadir, S., Külah, T., Önalgil, N., Erkoyun, H., Elliott, W.C., 2017, Mineralogy, geochemistry and genesis of bentonites in Miocene volcanic-sedimentary units of the Ankara-Cankiri Basin, Central Anatolia, Turkey. Clays and Clay Minerals, v. 65, no. 2, p. 64-91. DOI: 10.1346/CCMN.2017.064051. In addition he presented his work with colleagues in venues around the world: at Goldschmidt in Paris, at the International Conference on the Biogeochemistry of Trace Elements in Zurich, and at the 54th Annual Clay Minerals Society Conference in Edmonton, Alberta.

With colleagues Adrian Bailey (Hong Kong Baptist University, and PI of the project) and Stephan deBeer (University of Pretoria), Dr. Katherine Hankins, Chair of the department, received funding from the Hong Kong Research Council to conduct a comparative study on migrant housing precarity in Atlanta, Pretoria, and Hong Kong. She and her colleagues met in Hong Kong recently and presented an update on their research to the Global Partnership for Better Cities 2 conference, held at Hong Kong Baptist University and co-sponsored by Georgia State University, among other institutions. Dr. Dajun Dai also attended the conference.


Provost Risa Palm’s research examining changes in individual perceptions of climate change, which was published in the Annals of the American Association of Geographers, was featured in an article in Forbes.

Coming in 2018: Groundwater monitoring downtown

Starting in January 2018, the department will be installing and operating a groundwater monitoring network at the main downtown campus.


This network will complement our existing coastal groundwater monitoring network located at the Center for Research and Education at Wormsloe (CREW) near Savannah. The downtown network will be utilized for hands-on teaching experiences including low-flow groundwater sampling and aquifer testing methods. The wells will have instrumentation to monitor water levels, temperature and the electrical conductivity of the groundwater. The data will be used in conjunction with our on-campus climate station to evaluate groundwater recharge following precipitation events and how impervious and pervious surfaces control recharge in an urban setting. In addition, aquifer testing will be performed on the wells to estimate the availability of water for non-drinking water use (i.e. small-scale sustainable irrigation).

Thanks to all of our students, staff, and friends for a great 2017!

Here’s to a smooth move and the continued upward trajectory of our teaching and research in Geosciences in 2018!

Happy holidays! -Katherine Hankins, Chair

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