Exemplary Geosciences Faculty And Staff Honored With 2017 Awards

Dec 19, 2017

On Dec. 1, the College of Geosciences celebrated and recognized the outstanding contributions of faculty and staff during its

College of Geosciences Interim Dean Dr. Debbie Thomas presented the evening's awards.

Mark McCann, senior information technology professional, was honored with a 2017 Dean’s Achievement Award for Exemplary Staff Services. Bobby Reece, Mark’s nominator, wrote that “Mark has come through countless times in short order to fix problems critical to a teaching or research mission. He is always happy to help, and responds selflessly to anything asked of him. Although Mark is truly a brilliant technician, and carries knowledge critical to the complex computing support mission, he does not shy away from small tasks, and fills in to help wherever asked or needed.” 

Michelle Beal receives an award from Dr. Debbie Thomas. Photo by Butch IrelandMichelle Beal and Dr. Debbie Thomas. Photo by Butch Ireland.

Michele Beal, business administrator II, was also honored with a 2017 Dean’s Achievement Award for Exemplary Staff Services. Michele started working for the College of Geosciences in 1982. She currently serves as a lead business person for the college, providing administrative and business support to all of the college’s business staff. One of her colleagues wrote, “Michele is not only dedicated to helping her co-workers, but ensuring that our students and everyone else she works with is given the highest customer service she can possibly achieve.”

Christina Wiederwohl and Dr. Debbie Thomas. Photo By Butch IrelandDr. Christina Wiederwohl and Dr. Debbie Thomas. Photo By Butch Ireland.

The Dean’s Distinguished Achievement Award for Faculty Excellence in Teaching went to Dr. Christina Wiederwohl, instructional assistant professor of oceanography. Department head Dr. Shari Yvon-Lewis wrote, “Dr. Wiederwohl excels at teaching. Her significant activities in this area are numerous. She teaches large sections of the department’s core curriculum course, and she runs the corresponding lab class. She also developed a wholly online section for OCNG 251 to expand our ability to offer this class to more students. Student reviews are routinely well above average for these classes.” 

Dr. Istvan Szunyogh and Dr. Debbie Thomas. By Butch Ireland.Dr. Istvan Szunyogh and Dr. Debbie Thomas. Photo by Butch Ireland. 

The Dean’s Distinguished Achievement Award for Faculty Excellence in Research went to Dr. Istvan Szunyogh, professor of atmospheric sciences. One of his nominators wrote, “Dr. Szunyogh has been a very productive researcher throughout his career and has garnered over $2.4 million in grant awards since joining Texas A&M, with awards from many federal agencies and industry, including NASA, NOAA, NSF, ONR, DOD, DOE, and BP. In 2016, he was awarded three grants for data assimilation and mid-latitude atmospheric predictability from ONR and NOAA for over a half million dollars.”

Dr. Dave Sparks and Dr. Debbie Thomas. Photo by Butch Ireland.Dr. Dave Sparks and Dr. Debbie Thomas. Photo by Butch Ireland.

The Dean’s Distinguished Award for Faculty Excellence in Service went to Dr. Dave Sparks, professor of geology and geophysics. Department Head Dr. Mike Pope said, “Dave has been the key faculty mover and shaker to get the graduate curriculum modified to something most of us are not only excited about but also wholeheartedly believe will produce better students. To do this he had to write innumerable position papers, lead two full-day retreats and many other meetings.” 

Dr. Don Collins receives an award. Photo by Butch Ireland.Dr. Don Collins (right) receives his award. Photo by Butch Ireland.

A 2017 Association of Former Students College-level Distinguished Teaching Award Winners was presented to Dr. Don Collins, professor of atmospheric sciences and director of the Center for Atmospheric Chemistry and the Environment. One of Dr. Collins' nominators wrote, “Despite managing a busy research group, Dr. Collins remains one of the most thorough, well-organized, and creative teachers I have encountered. The operating principles of several atmospheric instruments are burned in my memory because a special topics course taught by Dr. Collins over a decade ago included not only the theory of their operation but a field trip to see them installed on a research aircraft.”

Dr. Andrew Klein and Dr. Debbie Thomas. By Butch Ireland.Dr. Andrew Klein and Dr. Debbie Thomas. Photo by Butch Ireland.

Another 2017 Association of Former Students College-level Distinguished Teaching Award was also presented to Dr. Andrew Klein, who holds the EOG Teaching Professorship in Geosciences and is a professor of geography. The college also presented a new award to Klein: the Selfless Service Award. His nominator wrote, “Since promotion to associate professor, teaching has been Dr. Klein’s foremost activity, driven by his professional interest, as well as departmental curricular needs. …Of the many admirable and inspirational stories I have heard about Andrew is that while he’s been on field work trips in Antarctica, he showed great dedication to teaching by waking at 3 a.m. to teach early morning classes in College Station via the internet!”

Dr. Ron Kaiser and Dr. Debbie Thomas. Photo by Butch Ireland.Dr. Ron Kaiser and Dr. Debbie Thomas. Photo by Butch Ireland.

The 2017 Innovator Award went to Dr. Ron Kaiser, a professor of recreation, park and tourism science. Dr. Kaiser started Water Management and Hydrological Science Program in 2000 in conjunction with faculty in four colleges, and directed it for many years. One of his nominators wrote, “Dr. Kaiser gives special attention to every student who joins the program, especially international students. Despite his busy schedule, he makes time for a face-to-face meeting with every international student the moment they arrive on campus. This meeting has helped international students to quickly realize that Aggieland is not a huge campus where one easily gets lost, but a place with a beacon shining giving the right directions. He has provided a home away from home.”

The following faculty and staff were recognized for their years of service with the college.

Celebrating 20 years of service with the college:

Celebrating 25 years of service with the college:

Celebrating 30 years of service with the college:

Celebrating 35 years of service with the college:

Celebrating 40 years of service with the college:

All of the photos from the event can be viewed in this album.

By Taylor Fuechec '18