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Where Are They Now? (News of MEAS Alumni)

Congratulations to our MEAS Students!
The following scholarships have been awarded to students in MEAS for the 2012-2013 academic year:

Scholarship Name Recipient
Frank S. Smith Marine Sciences Alison Fowler
Witherington Mikayla White
Carolina Air Melissa Lynn Johnson
Lauren Anne Bonatz Memorial Christopher Stanbery
Virginia Rock & Mineral Christopher Stanbery
Frank S. Smith Marine Sciences Amanda Elizabeth Bolick
Frank S. Smith Marine Sciences Morgan Elizabeth Kripner
Frank S. Smith Marine Sciences Jessica Kristen Lowder
Humphrey Rohrbach Christopher Jonathan
Dicky Morrison Undergraduate Meteorology David Hurley
Charles and Eleanor Welby Geology Vincent Santagata
Jerry & Adela Whitten College Brian Miller
Dean's Circle Brian Miller

These scholarships are possible through the generous gifts of alumni and friends of the MEAS Department. You can give to the MEAS Enhancement Fund or to any scholarship or program, safely and securely, at If you are interested in establishing a scholarship endowment of your own, please contact the department or the PAMS Advancement Office.

MEAS welcomes new faculty member – Dr. Astrid Schnetzer
Dr. Astrid Schnetzer
arrived at NCSU in late summer of 2012 as our newest tenure-track faculty member. Astrid received her Ph.D. in Marine Biology from the University of Vienna in 2001. She came to NCSU from the University of Southern Dr. Astrid SchnetzerCalifornia Marine Science Center, where she was a post-doc for 3 years and then a Research Assistant Professor for 6 years. Astrid's research interests include: Protistan Ecology and Molecular Diversity, Zooplankton Ecology, Marine Food-Web Dynamics, Biogeochemical Cycling, and Harmful Algal Blooms. Her ongoing research projects focus on: 1) plankton assemblages as sentinels for ecosystem change within NC coastal estuarine food webs, 2) changes in phytoplankton community structure and function in response to ocean acidification, 3) the ecology of harmful algal blooms in coastal waters along the Southern California coast, and 4) the role of protistan-metazoan trophic relations in shaping plankton assemblages in the Southern Ocean (Ross Sea, Antarctica).

MEAS Faculty Study Toba Super-Volcano
Lake Toba, the largest caldera lake in the world, formed following a super-volcano eruption 74,000 years ago in northern Sumatra. Besides its notoriety as Earth's largest recent volcanic eruption, this event has been implicated in global climate change, glacial advances, and the evolution of modern humans. The explosive eruption of ~2800 km3 of magma from a batholith-sized body produced a 100 x 30 x 2 km deep caldera. Although the center of the caldera has "resurged" producing a large island, approximately ⅔ of the caldera floor is now covered by Lake Toba.

In July and August of 2012, MEAS faculty Paul Liu and Del Bohnenstiehl conducted an extensive sub-bottom seismic survey of the Lake Toba sediments. Collectively, the imaged sedimentary sequences indicate a dynamic post-caldera collapse history of deep-water sedimentation that has been deformed by resurgent doming, lava dome intrusions, and reactivated collapse fault movements. As these data are analyzed in the coming year, we hope to better understand the mechanisms of caldera formation, post-collapse resurgent doming, lava dome emplacement, sub-lacustrine volcanic hazards, large scale erosional events, long-term sedimentation, and dynamic hydrologic events that have taken place at Toba since the super-eruption. Results of this study could lead to future research on paleoclimate, paleovegetation, and even early-modern human activities in the region.

Sub-bottom Profiler - Lake Toba
SB-512i sub-bottom profiler deployed in Lake Toba
Photo by Mike Dolan

This work was carried out in collaboration with volcanologists Craig Chesner (Eastern Illinois University), Mike Dolan (Affincore, Inc.), Sid Halsor (Wilkes University) and Asnawar Nasution (Bandung Institute of Technology), with support from the National Geographic Society and the home institutions of the participants.

Marine Science Summer Field Course Goes Annual!
MEA 459 (Coastal Processes) has been offered every other year for the past 8 years. Starting with 2012, this 3-4 week Marine Science Summer Field Course will be taught every year out of the MEAS coastal facility (CMAST), located in Morehead City. As of 2011, MEA 459 is a required field course for new Marine Science majors in MEAS. The course includes a 2-day Outer Banks field trip, cruises to Cape Lookout Bight and the Neuse River estuary, salt marsh ecology and biogeochemistry, coastal geophysics, GPS beach migration studies, characterization of barrier island dynamics, and much more. Faculty involved in the 2012 field course were: Del Bohnenstiehl, Chris Osburn, Paul Liu, Bill Showers, and Dave DeMaster. Adeline Brym was the teaching assistant.

Jockey's Ridge 2012 Marine Science field class at Jockey's Ridge, NC (Outer Banks). Note the extensive amount of water collecting between the dunes. May 2012 was an unusual year for this area
Cape Lookout 2012 Field Cruise to Cape Lookout Bight, where sediment coring, water sampling, and trawling for benthos were the predominant activities
Flux Cores Oxygen Profiles
Collection of "Flux Cores" from coastal salt marsh near Atlantic Beach, NC Measurement of oxygen profiles in the upper few millimeters of a salt marsh core using an oxygen micro-electrode

MEAS Goes to Vietnam
During December of 2012, Paul Liu and Dave DeMaster traveled to Vietnam to discuss past and future research cruises off the east coast of Vietnam. The investigators traveled to the north Vietnam city of Haiphong to discuss their 2011 field research on the Red River Delta, and then to Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon) to discuss previous and future research on the Mekong Delta. The final stop was in the central Vietnam city of Nha Trang, where Liu and DeMaster plan to conduct a collaborative research cruise during August of 2013. The focus of the coastal research is to determine how the Vietnam coast with some of the biggest deltas in the world is responding to diminished sediment flux as a result of damming upstream in Cambodia, Laos, and China.

Vietnamese Institute Paul Liu and Dave DeMaster with a Vietnamese colleague outside of Marine Science Institute in Dha Trang, Vietnam
Vietnam Coast In central Vietnam, the coast is dominated by rugged mountains and offshore islands-- very different from the coastal plains associated with the Mekong Delta and Red River Delta
Mekong River Delta
Satellite image of the Mekong Delta with seismic cruise tracks and coring sites identified. The inserted map shows the locations of the 3 Vietnam coastal regions studied by Liu and DeMaster.
seismic profiling
CHIRP seismic profiling off the east coast of Vietnam is used to determine the thickness of sediments accumulating in nearshore deposits.
research vessel sediment core
Vietnamese research vessel used during the Red River Delta field study Gravity coring on the continental shelf seaward of the Red River Delta
DeMaster and Liu
Subsampling sediment core for radiochemical analyses, which were used to determine rates of sediment accumulation in deltaic sediments and coastal deposits. Kristen Ross, who did her M.S. thesis on Red River Delta sedimentation is standing between DeMaster and Liu.
Dr. Paul Liu making repairs Life at sea is full of repairs and unexpected adventure.

The MEAS - Vertical axis turbine is a beacon for small-scale alternative wind energy at CMAST in Morehead City, NC. More on Wind Tower

CMAST wind turbine
The vertical axis wind tower astride the CMAST building was designed and built by an N.C. company. Photo: Greensky Wind Systems

NCSU and MEAS Hosting 2013 Blue Heron Bowl
North Carolina State University and the Dept. of MEAS will be hosting the 2013 Blue Heron Bowl in Raleigh, NC on Saturday, February 23, 2013. The Blue Heron Bowl is a regional marine science quiz bowl for high school students. Winners of the North Carolina regional bowl, the Blue Heron Bowl, will be sent to the National competition in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in April. Paul Liu is the NCSU coordinator for the 2013 event.

Dr. Guy Harvey Donates Portion of Sales Proceeds to CMAST
Dr. Guy Harvey, reowned marine wildlife artist, scientist, conservationist, and marine biologist, donated part of the sales proceeds of the 36 North Art Gallery (located on the Morehead City waterfront) during the NC Seafood Festival to CMAST in the name of the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation. The public was invited to meet the artist at 36 North on Saturday, October 6, 2012 from 12 - 2 pm where he signed art and merchandise. A ticketed VIP event also was held at 36 North on Friday night.

This August, Drs. Lonnie Leithold, Karl Wegmann, and Del Bohnenstiehl were awarded a new 2-year grant from the National Science Foundation to investigate the record of earthquake-trigger landsliding preserved in the Lake Quinault drainage basin. Lake Quinault is located in the western Olympic Mountains of Washington State, above the seismically-active Cascadia subduction zone. More on Awarded Grant

The western Olympic Mountains of Washington are also home to a temperate rain forest that typically receives over 12 feet of rainfall a year. In collaboration with Lake Quinault High School teacher Erica Waggoner, Dr. Yuter's research group installed two instruments in November 2012 to study the characteristics of this rainfall as part of a National Science Foundation project.

The 2012 Fall-Break Regional Geology of North America class (MEA 599) spent five days in southeastern New Mexico and westernmost Texas. This year, we had 9 graduate and undergraduate students, one alum, and three faculty participate (Wegmann, Leithold, and Bohnenstiehl). Highlights included sunset at the White Sands National Monument, hiking in Dog Canyon and investigating early Holocene fault scarps along the front of the Sacramento Mountains, an afternoon spent more than 700 feet underground in Carlsbad Caverns and the bat flight phenomenon at sunset, and learning about the Permian reef complex so beautifully exposed in Guadalupe Mountains National Park.

We welcome alums who are working in the geosciences to join us on future trips. Ideas for future trips include: Big Bend National Park, the Bahamas, Puerto Rico, the Pacific Northwest, the Grand Canyon, Zion National Park, and possibly even Hawaii (over spring break). Please contact Dr. Karl Wegmann ( or Dr. Del Bohnenstiehl ( if you are interested in participating.

gypsum dunes
October sunset over the gypsum dunes at White Sands (gypsum) National Monument, NM
reef deposits
Students and faculty investigating Mississippian (~350 Ma) carbonate reef deposits, Guadalupe Mountains, NM
Students in the King's Palace, Carlsbad Caverns National Park, NM
2012 Regional Geology group photo - foggy morning in Guadalupe Mountains National Park, TX
The Permian reef (~250 Ma), exposed in the cliffs of El Capital, Guadalupe Mountains National Park, TX

On October 17-20, 2012, at the Raleigh Convention Center, NC State and the NC Museum of Natural Sciences were the main hosts of the 72nd annual meeting of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology. Professional paleotologists and amateur fossil hounds participated. The museum hosted a full slate of science cafes, a fossil plant symposium, and a free public lecture by nationally renowned paleontologist Lawrence Witmer. Dr. Witmer's presentation showed how the latest advances in high-tech imaging and 3D computer modeling, combined with old-school anatomy, allow scientists to "flesh out" dinosaurs in unprecedented ways, shed new light on dinosaur biology and provide a vehicle to engage the public about their research.
More on Annual Meeting

Current graduate students Kate Dzikiewicz, Alison Moyer, and Edwin Cadena and recent graduate Tim Cleland all gave presentations at the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology meeting in Raleigh.

Dr. Jim Hibbard led several student field excursions in 2011, including trips associated with MEA 465 (Geology Field Course), MEA 451 (Structural Geology), and MEA 788 (Appalachian Geology). In the past year, Jim has also co-edited a Geological Society of America Memoir and a special issue of the Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences. See Hibbard's web page for more updates.

gallina plaza
Snow on the first field day (mid May) at Gallina Plaza, NM, MEA 465
valles caldera
MEA 465 participants in Valles Caldera National Preserve; Dr. Frazier Goff, expert on the caldera, explains the plumbing of the volcano
2011 field course
The 2011 field course class at Northern New Mexico College
MEA 451 class
MEA 451 class at Byrd's Mill, VA

The Geoscience Careers Roadshow came to Jordan Hall on Thurs., Sept. 13th. The purpose of the Roadshow was to discuss Geoscience workforce trends and job search tips during a 1-hour presentation by professionals from AGI (American Geosciences Institute).

The dinosaur plumage debate continues per our Ph.D. student Alison Moyer as backed by our Dr. Mary Schweitzer (published in The Economist , Oct. 27th, 2012)

Ph.D. Candidate Sean Gallen was awarded the Best Graduate Student Poster for his research on "A Neogene to recent resurgence of topographic relief in the southern Appalachians" at the 2012 Geological Society of America - Southeast Section meeting, held in Asheville, NC last April. Look for the February 2013 GSA Today science article that will highlight Sean's research with faculty advisors Karl Wegmann and Del Bohnenstiehl (Gallen, S.F., Wegmann, K.W.., Bohnenstiehl, D.R., 2013. Miocene rejuvenation of topographic relief in the southern Appalachians: GSA Today, v. 23, no. 2).

Graduate student Matthew Burnette has received a Norman R. Tilford Field Study Scholarship in the Masters Division from the Association of Environmental and Engineering Geologists (AEG). The awarding of the scholarship was recognized at the AEG Annual Meeting in Salt Lake City on September 19, 2012.

Graduate student Edwin Cadena successfully defended his Ph.D. dissertation October 9. He was supervised in this research by Dan Ksepka and Mary Schweitzer.

Dr. Sukanta Basu is part of a team working on a model for atmospheric turbulence, studying airflow over islands and complex terrain. More

Dr. Fred Semazzi and other researchers (including former NCSU grads) have come up with a new, more accurate method for predicting hurricanes. More

Tornadic Field Studies
VORTEX2 (the Verification of the Origins of Rotation in Tornadoes Experiment) was by far the largest and most ambitious effort ever made to understand tornadoes. Primarily during 2009 and 2010, over 100 scientists and over 40 science and support vehicles participated in this unique, fully nomadic field program, which was funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Among the many cutting-edge instruments deployed to surround and make measurements of tornadic storms, researchers from MEAS were responsible for operating four mobile soundings (weather ballooning) units. Dr. Matthew Parker served as the mobile soundings coordinator, and brought a total of 15 MEAS undergraduate and graduate students (many pictured below) into the field during the 13 weeks of intensive observations.

Below: NCSU participants on the soundings teams during VORTEX2

vortex2 soundings 1
Nate Hardin, Johannes Dahl, and Graylen Boone
vortex2 soundings
Kate Rojowsky and David Stark
vortex2 soundings
Adam French (facing camera)
vortex2 soundings
Andrew Steineke

Improving Wind Forecasts During Landfalling Hurricanes
Bryce Tyner, Ph.D. candidate, is working with Anantha Aiyyer on a project funded by NOAA under the CSTAR program. As part of this project, the NCSU team is collaborating with staff at the National Hurricane Center (NHC) and several National Weather Service (NWS) offices, including the one at Raleigh where Jonathan Blaes is leading the effort from the NWS side. The primary goal of the CSTAR Tropical Cyclone Wind Team is to improve sustained wind speed and wind gust forecasts in the Mid-Atlantic and Southeastern portions of the United States. A climatology of recent tropical cyclones affecting the region has been developed.  A comparison of sustained wind forecasts for these storms to wind analyses created at the Hurricane Research Division and station data indicates a general overprediction of wind speeds throughout much of the region.  This result suggests a need for forecasters to increase land reduction factors used in the wind forecast developmental process. A climatology of gust factors associated with the storms affecting the region suggests gust factors (ratio of wind gust to sustained wind) is highly variable but on the order of 1.4-1.8 on the periphery of the storm, where wind speeds are weaker.  In areas near the coastline and also locations near the center of the storm, gust factors appear to asymptotically decay to values near 1.2.

As part of the research to operations transition, the results of the gust factor analysis have been used to develop the TCMWindGust smart tool, which provides a preliminary model for developing wind gust forecasts at NWS offices. The NCSU team is involved in extending these results using a suite of numerical simulations to better understand the physical processes in the hurricane boundary layer.

Where Are They Now? (News of MEAS Alumni)
Friends and Alumni of MEAS - We'd like to hear from you and find out what you are doing. Please send us an update on your latest career activities, so that the Department and your fellow MEAS friends (through the MEAS Newsletter) will have a current update. Thanks!

After completing a post-doctoral research appointment at Purdue University, MEAS alum Casey Kennedy (M.S. 2004, Ph.D. 2008) has begun a postition as Research Hydrologist at the USDA Agricultural Research Service. Casey is currently stationed with USDA at the UMass Cranberry Station where he works on projects related to groundwater-surface water interaction, isotope hydrology, and water and nutrient issues associated with cranberry farming. More  

In November Casey was announced as the 2012 winner of the PAMS Medal of Achievement (see Award web site): "This award recognizes early- to mid-career alumni of the College of Physical and Mathematical Sciences who have excelled through their chosen professions or public service, and proven themselves destined to make a significant impact in science, government, education, business or industry." Congratulations, Casey!

Recent Ph.D. students Adam French and Casey Letkewicz are both employed in tenure-track faculty positions. Adam is now in his 2nd year in the Department of Atmospheric Sciences at South Dakota School of Mines and Technology in Rapid City, and Casey is in her first year in the Physics Department (Meteorology program) at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs.


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