Geology/Geography 2010-2011 Annual Newsletter

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Message from the Chair
Message from the Dean
Geology Highlights
Geography Highlights
Student Activities
Fall 2009/Spring 2010 Graduates
Department in Action: Online Videos
Dalias and Lillian Price Memorial Endowment
Help Support the Department
The Faculty

Message from the Chair

Greetings! I would like to take the opportunity to welcome you, our alumni, and to provide you with a brief update of recent goings on in the Geology/Geography Department. There have been many changes to report since our last newsletter. Dr. John Stimac has moved on to become Dean of the Honors College, and I have taken his place as Chair of Geology/Geography. John continues to teach classes for us in the department. Drs. Jim Stratton and Vince Gutowski retired in May and August, respectively, though they continue to work on projects locally. We also welcomed our newest faculty member, Jim Riley, who will teach geomorphology, field methods, surface water and natural hazards. Jim comes to us from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. In short, it has been a busy year in the department as you will find as you continue perusing this newsletter.

I would like to extend an invitation to attend our Homecoming festivities this year. Our department will help coordinate the College of Sciences tent at Tent City (this takes place before the football game), so please stop by for a hot dog and a chance to catch up with several of our faculty. If attending Homecoming is not in your plans, we hope that you will arrange to visit us next time you are in the neighborhood. We will show you around so you can see first-hand the changes in the department and meet the faculty and students. If you have questions about the department or would like to make a contribution to our future success, I can be contacted by phone (217-581-2626) or by e-mail:

Best wishes!
Mike Cornebise

Message from the Dean

Greetings from the College of Sciences at EIU! As with many of you, the University faces the challenges of reduced or delayed funding from the State of Illinois. While there are many things to complain about in that scenario, we are focusing on what we can do and trying not to dwell on what we cannot do. There are many things that we can do because EIU and Geology-Geography still attract some of the most talented undergraduate students. Our students are encouraged by faculty mentors to participate in undergraduate research, study abroad, National Student Exchange, and outreach as volunteers for Habitat for Humanity, peer tutors, and literacy programs in schools. Our students are recognized in national competitions and for national awards. They are successful applicants for graduate schools and are readily employed after graduation.

We strive to always improve teaching and learning at EIU. President Perry’s goal is that “EIU will be the best in the nation at integrating the academic and personal development of students.” Toward that goal, the campus is discussing Integrative Learning@EIU and how our students “reflect and connect.” We want to ensure that our students reflect on their collegiate experiences (in and out of the classroom), realize that all those experiences are connected and understand that their education prepares them to be leaders in their professions, leaders in their communities, and leaders of their generation. If you want to learn more about Integrative Learning@EIU, here is a website with a short video:

When you reflect on your time at EIU and your experiences as a student in Geology or Geography, who or what inspired you? How were you changed by your experiences and the people? How does EIU/G-G make a difference in your life? Email us (me or faculty in G-G). Your responses will assist us as we continue to reflect on how we can provide the best education possible! Wishing you and yours all the best!

Dean Mary Anne Hanner

Geology Highlights

Quite the changes to our cast of characters in the Geology end of the department – with the retirement of Dr. Stratton, the sabbatical of Dr. Bower and the move of Dr. Stimac to the Honors College, we are dancing to make sure that all of our teaching obligations are met as well as to ensure that we maintain our individual interests in research, outreach, recruitment and service.

The Geology Program is growing and evolving to provide the best possible experience for our majors. We have added several new electives to our program – Vertebrate Paleontology, Introduction to Paleoclimate and Geology of Energy Resources – and we are working towards establishing a new introductory course, Geology of National Parks. This course will be offered as a General Education class as well as serve as the first class requirement for our major and hopefully will generate more majors. We have been very successful with our recent recruiting efforts, as our enrollment has gone up this year to 31 Geology majors and 15 Earth Science Teacher Certification students, an approximately 15% increase over last year. Given that EIU’s overall enrollment is down about 2%, this is indeed great news and a very positive trend we are striving to continue in the future.

Our program graduated several students over the past academic year, many of whom have gone on to graduate schools in Illinois, Oklahoma, Oregon and Alaska. Others were successful in landing jobs in the mining sector, with environmental consulting firms, in regional school programs and in the petroleum industry. We continue to provide a quality education for our students, making them extremely competitive for both graduate schools as well as employment opportunities.

Our faculty shine as well – we have been successful in obtaining grants for both research and classroom development, been active in professional societies, attending conferences to disseminate our research findings and networking with others to develop more opportunities for our students to participate in internships, visit with experts in the field and learn more about cutting edge technologies.

We have several majors actively engaged in research projects with our faculty, investigating such topics as the evolution of the source area for Pennsylvanian/Permian Casper Formation sandstones (WY), the diversity and abundance of Pleistocene microfossils from the coast of Tasmania, development of K-12 inquiry activities for interpreting paleoenvironments, the geochemical evolution of quartz crystal growth in the youngest Toba Tuff (Sumatra) and determining the lateral extent of a dacite body at the Toba Volcano (Sumatra). Our students present their research in regional as well as national society meetings have always enjoyed positive feedback about their findings and presentations.

Geography Highlights

The Geography program has continued to grow in the past year. The program has expanded in all of our concentrations, and we were very pleased to welcome a new faculty member, Jim Riley, from the University of Illinois to Eastern this Fall. Jim will be teaching Geomorphology, Field Methods, and Natural Disasters. As Jim joins the department, we congratulate Vince Gutowski on his retirement as a member of the teaching faculty. Vince will still be around to help with GIS grants, but we definitely have big shoes to fill in the classroom with his departure. With Mike Cornebise moving to his new role as department chair, we face other changes in the classroom as his teaching load decreases to fewer classes a year. Mike is the first geographer to serve as the Geology/Geography Chair since 1978. We are also actively recruiting a new Cartography/GIS specialist to join the faculty in 2011.

The Geography program has worked hard to facilitate university goals. Chris Laingen has been involved in the planning and development of the new Renewable Energy Center on campus. Geography is also playing a leading role in developing and housing the new University-wide GIScience Center. Finally, we continue to embrace integrative learning goals with our broadcast meteorology program, field trips and study abroad. Dave Viertel and Jim Davis will be leading a group of students to Germany, Austria, and Czech Republic next summer.

Awards and honors have been plentiful amongst Geography faculty in the past year. Cameron Craig was named 2010 Professor Laureate and addressed Fall Convocation. He also received the Excellence in the Use of Technology Service Award. Mike Cornebise was named president of the Illinois Geographical Society. Jim Davis was asked to serve as the Faculty Athletics Representative to the NCAA starting in summer 2011. The Geography faculty continues to enjoy success in securing grants for their research, as well.

The growth in Geography has led to many changes in our curriculum over the past year. One of the most exciting developments is the addition of a Physical Geography general education course. Beyond this initiative, Chris Laingen added courses in Biogeography, Natural Resource Conservation, and Agricultural Geography to departmental offerings. New Meteorology/Climatology courses include Cameron Craig’s Climate, Environment, and History Course and Broadcast Meteorology Practicum. Betty Smith has broadened the Latin America curriculum and now offers separate Middle America and South America courses. Jim Davis is also teaching a Sports Geography course on a yearly basis.

Finally, our clubs had another banner year. GTU continues to provide funding for students to attend and present at professional conferences. The club also had numerous cookouts, camping trips, and other field excursions throughout the year. GTU members spent Spring Break white water rafting in the Appalachian Mountains. With Vince’s retirement, GTU leadership has also undergone changes. Dave Viertel and Belayet Khan will now serve as GTU advisors. Additionally, a new group, the Geography Club, was founded last Spring. Jim Davis and Chris Laingen serve as advisors. This club is open to anyone with an interest in geography. In its first semester, Geography Club held a bowling night and co-hosted (with Geoscience Club) a faculty/student softball game. The faculty easily defeated the students due to “special” game rules.

Student Activities

Our departmental organizations have been quite busy this past semester, both through co-sponsored efforts as well as individual events. All of the department clubs came together to sponsor the first annual Faculty/Alumni vs. Student softball game held at Sister City Park this past April. It was a pitched battle and many spectacular plays were made – all seemed to enjoy the good-natured competitiveness and certainly the cookout that followed. We hope to make this an ongoing event in early Fall of each year, so if you are in the area and interested in joining us, please let us know.

Gamma Theta Upsilon sponsored activities in many areas during Spring 2010. Sarah McElhaney and Emily Sheehan were recipients of a Grace Markwell Meier Undergraduate Research Award in Geography. Sarah presented her research at the Annual Meeting of the Illinois Geographical Society, and Emily will present at the upcoming Annual Meeting of the West Lakes Division of the Association of American Geographers. Dr. Gutowski took yet another group of students on the annual GTU Spring Break Casual Learning Experience. This Spring they traveled through the southern Appalachians, including a whitewater rafting trip down the infamous Chattooga River. GTU finished off the semester with their annual Last Supper; this year it was a cook out at Fox Ridge State Park. Fall 2010 will see Dave Viertel take over as GTU advisor, with Belayet Khan as co-advisor; Vince Gutowski had served as advisor since 1985.

Sigma Gamma Epsilon recognized two of our graduating seniors in the spring for their outstanding academic achievements as well as service to our department. Adam Schimmelpfenning ’10 was presented with a Certificate of Achievement, and Alex Fitzjarrald ’10 received the Tarr Award, the SGE’s outstanding student of the year commendation. Congratulations, Adam and Alex!! Long-time SGE adviser, Jim Stratton, stepped down from this role to enjoy his retirement, and Diane Burns will now serve in that capacity. SGE is sponsoring a trip to the IL Geological Survey to see their state-of-the art Geovisualization Laboratory, which runs a unique software package that allows almost real-time analysis of LIDAR imagery and other datasets. With this package, you can even see underground!

The Geoscience Club held their end-of-the-year soiree at senior Adam Hardesty’s house as well as the (in)famous Dewey Amos party in honor of one of our past chairs. Both events were well-attended by both faculty and students and provided a nice way to bring folks together for a little light-hearted fun.

In the spirit of interdisciplinary activities, our departmental clubs and several clubs from Biological Sciences got together for a service project, cleaning trash from the shorelines around Lake Charleston and the Embarras River. The day was fairly warm and sunny, and we cleaned up many pounds of trash, including a huge truck tire.

Our students groups continue to be a vital part of our majors’ lives, giving students a way to enrich their social and educational experiences. We are always looking for speakers and places to tour, so if you have any suggestions, please let us know!

Fall 2009/Spring 2010 Graduates

We in the department extend hearty congratulations to this past academic year’s graduates (F’09/S’10) and welcome them to our wonderful alumni family! The graduates are:

Britten Adams, Melinda Baker, Justin Capps, Leah Carter, Troy Clark, Sara Doris, Daniel Eungard, Samuel Fisher, Alex Fitzjarrald, Amanda Fromm, Daniel Gagnon, Craig Gripp, Joshua Hendricks, Rhett Hite, Kevin Jeanes, Jillian Kooistra, Kenneth (Wes) Kuhn, Andrea Kulik, Andrea Lajeunesse, Anna Larkin, Cody Lee, Sarah McElhaney, Jonathan Newell, Justin Pinnell, Eric Pollard, Ellery Rambo, Christopher Scales, Andrea Jo Schackmann, Adam Schimmelpfenning, Stephanie Sippos, Samuel Slaven, Michael Smallwood, Adam Torbeck, Colin Wallace, Joshua Warman, Alex Wolters,

Department in Action: Online Videos

If you have not had an opportunity to check-out our website, do so because you can learn more about what we are doing in the department with research and short films. We have an archive of speeches, research projects, interviews, short and feature length documentary films, and environmental music videos all created from students and faculty in the department. The point is to continue to keep alumni aware of what we are doing and to educated our community of the wonderful place we live called Earth! Visit us at!

Dalias and Lillian Price Memorial Endowment

Dr. Dalias Price, Professor Emeritus of Geography, passed away on 3 October 2009, at the age of 96. While attending the University of Illinois in the early 1930s, Dalias found weather observation to be one of his passions, and meteorology and climatology were important parts of his teaching while serving at several universities, including Southwest Missouri State, SIU-Carbondale, and culminating at Eastern Illinois University. In 1960 he officially began observing the weather in Charleston for the National Weather Service and continued to do so until January 2008, a period of 48 years of continuous recording of which 30 years of his observations set the “climate normal” (1971-2000) that is in use today – a unique and exceptional accomplishment. He was a recipient of the “Thomas Jefferson Award” from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration for his outstanding work in gathering and maintaining weather data at the official Charleston weather station, located in his backyard.

In the fall of 2008 the Department of Geology/Geography, in cooperation with the National Weather Service, took over the daily observations that Dalias had begun nearly a half-century ago. Each day students from the Department of Geology/Geography record weather data for transmission and inclusion in the National Weather Service’s weather forecasts and the National Climate Data Center's archive at NOAA. Such forecasts/climate data continue the long tradition in the department of service to the community, and in a small way in this case, to the nation.

Students who participate in this program do so because of their passion for meteorology and climatology and because they have hopes of one day being involved in the field of Broadcast Meteorology. Those students within the department who minor in Broadcast Meteorology or major in Geography and have a GPA of 2.5 or greater are eligible to apply for this endowment. Proceeds from the endowment would be used solely to supplement the stipend of students making the daily readings, compiling the data, and transmitting it to the National Weather Service.

The Dalias and Lillian Price Memorial Endowment will be an everlasting celebration of a generous man who unselfishly gave his lifelong service to this department, university, community, and state. Dr. Dalias Price was a significant and memorable role model we want our students to fully exemplify in their personal lives and careers beyond the gates of our university.

Help Support the Department

Would you like to help the Department in its mission of helping students learn about, and prepare for, a career in geology, geography, and the earth sciences?

A variety of opportunities exist. These range from simple donations to providing advice, datasets, or job opportunities for students. We are particularly seeking to increase the funds available for student support. Gifts to the Geology/Geography Gift Account allow us to:

  • Purchase equipment for faculty/student research;
  • Develop an undergraduate research fund;
  • Support undergraduates presenting research at scientific conferences;
  • Support innovative, inquiry-based laboratory exercises for class.

If you would like to make a contribution, several options are available. The simplest way is to send a check to the Department of Geology/Geography. Online donations with a credit card can be done via the University web pages at

Please remember to direct the gift to the Department of Geology/Geography. Other options for contributions are listed at the Office of Development's page, These gifts are usually tax deductible.

If you wish to support a particular scholarship or area in our department, that is also possible. In general, unless specified otherwise, we allocate most of our gifts towards student support and we have several pre-existing funds.

Existing scholarships and funds

  • General gift account – unrestricted use towards student support or equipment purchases
  • Geography Alumni Award – sophomore or junior in Geography
  • Geography of Ecuador and Latin America Enhancement Fund -geography majors.
  • Geology Alumni Award – sophomore or junior in Geology
  • Dewey H. Amos Scholarship – outstanding junior in Geology or Earth Science
  • Jon and Diana Giffin Geologist Scholarship – at least sophomore Geology major with plans to continue in geology
  • Ruby M. Harris Award – senior in Geology, Geography, or Earth Science
  • Walter H. and Dorothea V. McDonald Scholarship – junior in Geography or Earth Science
  • Grace Markwell Meier Award – outstanding member of Gamma Theta Upsilon (GTU)
  • Errett and Mazie Warner Presidential Award – juniors or seniors in Geology, Geography, or Earth Sciences
  • John George Wozencraft, Jr. Memorial Award – either mathematics (even years) or Geography (odd years
  • Vincent P. & Pamela R. Gutowski Scholarship – given to students majoring in Geography who show outstanding scholarship and dedication to the field of Geography.
  • Dalias and Lillian Price Memorial Endowment – supports student observers in observing daily climate data for National Weather Service.
  • Geology in the Schools Outreach Program - funds for this program go towards supplies and models used in the classroom demonstrations as well as support for the students who are doing the presentations.
  • Other – such as establishment of your own scholarship or memorial fund.

We would especially like to encourage alumni to check for the possibility of matching funds from their employer, as any donation will be multiplied. For example, some large petroleum companies offer a 3:1 match. That means in order to meet the minimum amount needed to establish a scholarship, $10,000, you might only need to contribute $3,333 if there is a 3:1 match.

Gifts-in-kind of equipment or specimens are also appreciated but must be prearranged with the department beforehand to ensure optimal use (and for conformance to University regulations). If you have any questions or comments, please don't hesitate to email or call me.

Michael Cornebise, Chair
Phone: (217) 581-2626

The Faculty

Brett Anderson

I have joined the Geology/Geography Department as an ACF to teach Weather and Climate and the Senior Seminar - Spaceship Earth. I began my college career by attaining by undergraduate degree in Environmental Geography from the University of Oklahoma in 1998. I then moved to Kansas State University where I received my Master’s in 2000. From there, it was on to the University of Kansas for my doctoral work. In the realm of geography I consider myself a historical-cultural geographer that focuses on cultural imagery. I am also increasingly interested in environmental history. Outside of school I enjoy exploring the San Juan Mountains of southwestern Colorado every summer for a couple of weeks. In addition, I am a big music fan and Charleston’s proximity to Chicago, Indianapolis, Champaign, Bloomington, and St. Louis insures that my appetite for live music will be well satisfied.

Kathy Bower

Dr. Kathy Bower is currently on sabbatical. She is spending the first part of the year in Costa Rica learning Spanish (along with U.S. Study Abroad students) to facilitate research into environmental sustainable planning of Latin America. Costa Rica is a country with a literacy rate comparable to the U.S. and has one of the highest standards of living in Latin America. Yet, only 82% of the population has consistent access to a potable water supply. Furthermore, only 3% of sewage is treated before discharge to the environment. The question is “Why?” While learning Spanish and investigating natural disaster preparedness and water resources in Costa Rica, Kathy is enjoying learning about Costa Rica. She visits museums, national parks, and beaches. She has traveled to see the Poas Volcano, Cahuita National Park (including snorkeling over the coral), Rio Fortuna and Monteverde (including zip-lining). Kathy looks forward to being able to speak Spanish fluently.

Diane Burns

Hi to all! We are hoping to turn this newsletter into an annual fall publication, so we have a bit of a short turnaround from our last offering. As a result, this missive will be short and sweet…I spent the summer doing a lot of travelling, research and reconnaissance as well as some much-needed relaxation. The day before commencement exercises, I left for Arkansas to visit family, then headed north to New York to work with my colleague, Dr. Mark Erickson, at St. Lawrence University. We are studying the diagenetic process of the soft tissues in a Late Maastrichtian pelecypod, Panopea occidentalis. A week and a half later, I flew out to Ireland in hopes of getting a good feel for the area and start investigating the details necessary to put together a Study Abroad trip to the Emerald Isle. It is a beautiful country – such wonderful geology! There was the golden beaches of the Copper Coast on the southern end of the island, the stark majesty of heavily glaciated landscape of The Burren on the west, the wonder of the huge basalt columns in the Giant’s Causeway to the north and the tranquil beaches with large tidal pools on the eastern side. This trip would include a geography component as well, exploring the cultural and economic differences that are apparent as soon as one steps off the airplane. The country is rich in history, ranging from the numerous castles that dot the landscape to the ancient burial sites found in the more rural towns. I am looking forward to being to offer this trip in the near future. Other travels during the summer took me to Wyoming to do field work with Josh Dye, a senior geology major, and we are interested in unraveling the evolution of the source area for the sandstone units contained in the Pennsylvanian/Permian Casper Formation. We just received word that our abstract on this study was accepted for the national GSA convention in October, so we will be presenting a poster on the topic on Tuesday, November 2nd in Denver, CO. If you are there for the convention, please drop by and visit with us. I am very excited to be working on a project with Dave Viertel on the geomorphological evolution of the Little Wabash River and the migrational changes in the stream’s channel. As much of the land surrounding the Little Wabash River is agricultural, the impact on landholdings is significant. This is one of the geology research projects highlighted on the department webpage – go to this link and see some of the exciting studies currently being pursued: Hope all is well with everyone!

Bob Cataneo

I am relatively new to the EIU faculty, joining the Geology/Geography Department in January 2004, after receiving an M.S. in Natural Sciences from Eastern in December 2003.

Since the study of the atmosphere has been my passion for the last 200 years (yes, that long), teaching the Weather/Climate course at EIU is a natural for me. I also teach two sections of an Introduction to Weather course at Parkland College in Champaign. I have found the Spaceship Earth-the Present State, Senior Seminar course highly stimulating as well (are we approaching the "Easter Island" point, yet?).

I look forward to the opportunity of teaching many more years at EIU; the faculty, staff, and students are an absolute pleasure to work with.

Craig Chesner

This summer marked my 12th year directing our Geology Field Camp in the Black Hills. We had 16 students, 5 from EIU and 11 from 11 different universities – another diverse group! Highlights included great geology as usual, great weather to make up for the previous soggy summer, and seeing 7 of our alumni across SD, WY, and MT.

Mike Cornebise

I have been at EIU since 2000 and am beginning my eleventh year in the department of Geology and Geography as chair (it has gone by way too fast!). I completed my Ph.D. at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville and my teaching and research interests include cultural, population and historical geography with regional specialties in North America, the Caribbean and Latin America.

Teaching-wise, I focus on human geography courses that include World Regional Geography, Honors Cultural Geography, the U.S. and Canada regional course as well as several elective offerings in the major and the Spaceship Earth Senior Seminar. I have also offered (along with Dr. John Stimac) a Study Abroad Field Experience in Ireland and Scotland that ran successfully 4 years in a row. Additionally, I participated in an EIU study abroad program in Maastricht, Netherlands in 2007. In 2008, I team-taught a course with Anthropologist Don Holly entitled “Intellectual Landscapes” that was well-received by students and will be proposed as a permanent course offering at EIU.

In terms of research, I have successfully developed new lines of study and have published articles related to three separate projects. The first article dealt with a study on Belizean migration in the Chicago-land region. Secondly, I published an article on the geography of the “Swedish” neighborhood of Andersonville in Chicago (with Dr. Ola Johansson). Most recently, I was part of a team effort that published a study on the Central Illinois Amish community (along with Dr. Jim Davis and two former undergraduate students, Mallory White and Laura Giboo). I presently have an article under review dealing with the concept of neighborhood “branding” in post-Industrial urban societies (with Dr. Johansson).

I currently serve on the Executive Council of the Illinois Geographical Society (IGS) and the advisory board of the Illinois Geographic Alliance. I am also the editor of the IGS Bulletin, the biannual peer reviewed journal of the Society.

Outside of the office, I am married with two children (Sammy: 6 and Sofia: 4) and recently moved into a new house on Charleston’s western fringe.

Cameron Craig, Professor Laureate 2010-2011

Salutations! It has been a very exciting year in the department and most grateful to be teaching alongside many fine colleagues. With the recommendation and support of my colleagues and students, I was honored as the 2010 Professor Laureate and had the wonderful opportunity to address faculty and new students at the Fall Convocation. It was truly an exhilarating moment for me and my family (especially my mother who is a speech instructor at IUPUI). In keeping with the university's mission of Integrative Learning, I created the "Gulf Ecological & Human Disaster Project" and took three students to Grand Isle, LA and Mobile, AL to document and interview the residents how the BP oil spill has impacted their lives. The project will be the foundation of a new documentary film entitled, "Returning to Paradise: Voices of the Human Spirit." Chris Laingen and I traveled throughout the Great Plains to research and interview farmers about the spatial changes of the Corn Belt, which is currently in production for another documentary film. I continue to enlist students who have documentary film ideas as a way to merge scientific research and creativity as an educational tool. I also worked with the Center of Academic Technology Support in co-directing the Integrative Learning videos that Dean Hanner mentioned in her greeting. I continue to teach Weather & Climate, Spaceship Earth, Broadcast Meteorology Practicum, and team-teach Climate and History with Dr. Bailey Young in the History department. If I am not in WeatherCenter, you can find me at WEIU-TV working with WEIU Skywatch Forecast students on a daily basis to assist them in their role as the public's scientist and advise them during severe weather events. Continuing to find integrative learning opportunities that tie observation with forecasting, my students continue to record important climatological data for National Weather Service from the weather station that the late Dalias Price observed for many years.

Jim Davis

The past year has been a busy and productive one for me. In addition to teaching, I have become the co-advisor for the new Geography Club and have been asked to serve as the Faculty Athletic Representative to the NCAA starting in the summer of 2011. Chris Laingen and I have also been busy working on a research project that examines the changing landscape of college baseball and what factors play a role in a team’s success. I also took a few of my Sports Geography students to Indianapolis for a field trip where we discussed the history of sports in Indianapolis and downtown development using sports facilities. We were also able to meet geography alumnus Andy Baker for a tour of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. I hope to continue this trip this coming spring along with a study abroad trip to Europe that Dave Viertel and I will be leading.

Steve DiNaso

Hello everyone… I hope all is well … as for me; I have really enjoyed the last six years here in the department teaching, working on integrative and collaborative research, maintaining collections, and working on my PhD. I am in my prelim’s now and am working steadfastly on finishing my PhD. Speaking of collections, the Jacquelyn and Chester Bulat Mineral Collection has been on display for some time now and if you have not seen it, stop by the department’s second floor and check it out! We have about 400 minerals from around the world on display (of a total of 1,200) …some of them quite rare. On the academic-research front; current research projects, to name a few, include The Trail of Tears, geophysical investigations in Anna, IL, The Herrin Massacre, a GISci spatio-temporal reconstruction and investigation of the 1922 mining riot in Williamson County, IL, EIU’s Carbon Footprint: Campus Flora Biomass and CO2 Sequestration, and a Geochemical and Spatio-Compositional Analysis of the Upper Morrison Fm in Alkali Canyon, Utah.

On other notes; as you may know, Homecoming is just around the corner and it would be nice to see some past alumni…AND…if you had not heard; we have lost Dr. Vince Gutowski …sad but true. No, he is not dead, he is retiring! After 23 years of hanging with the ol’ man, I thought I would never see the day. Suffice to say, after some twenty-five plus years of service, and as a new Faculty Emeritus, he has relinquished his historical office location on the second floor to newer faculty. On the lesser side of that, he has moved into the room across from his old office which, oddly enough, happens to be my office! I openly welcome the additional clutter…and the old man. So perhaps he has not ‘fully’ retired after all – albeit not uncommon, I hear the word ‘golf’ more now than ever! Vince’s contributions throughout the years are immeasurable. For those of you who knew him, who traveled with him to the far corners of the United States and beyond, who had an opportunity to study under his leadership, or who simply had an opportunity to work with him, you know that his talents and contributions to our department, and perhaps more importantly, our students, are many. He will be missed…

Vince Gutowski, Professor Emeritus

See Steve DiNaso.

Katherine Johnson

In the past year, I have taught both geology and science education classes.  Last year, I presented collaborative paleontological research at the Annual GSA meeting in Portland, OR.  I also attended the North-Central GSA meeting in Branson, MO, presenting another collaborative project involving grades K-12 hands-on geology activities, including one activity developed by a teacher certification student in biology, Lynsey Thoele.  The activity was developed for an assignment in my Teaching Science Methods course.  Currently, I am working on an independent study project with Kara Kooken, looking at Pleistocene biogenic seafloor sediments from off the western coast of Tasmania.

Belayet Khan

Not a whole lot has changed since the last Newsletter. The Fall 2010 semester has begun, and I am teaching my regular courses. In addition, am also teaching courses for off-campus students on the weekends. I greatly enjoy teaching, and it is always a pleasure to interact with students in and outside of the classroom. My current research concentrates on climate variability and weather anomalies with special emphasis on South Asia, and I am planning to present my research findings at the next annual meeting of the Association of the American Geographers (AAG). My service involvement continues, and this year I am serving on a number of committees in the department, college, and the university. I am the new co-advisor of the GTU honor society and looking forward to a great year filled with plenty of student activities. I am also in the process of organizing the National Geography Awareness Week events for November.

Our family enjoys travelling, and we have visited several countries in recent years including Canada, United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, India, Bangladesh, and Australia. My children are doing well, and they remain busy with their academic and professional activities. My older daughter is currently employed as a full-time financial advisor. The younger daughter who is a second year medical student just returned from a summer trip visiting Machu Picchu, Peru and Argentina. My sixteen year old son is a senior at the Illinois Math and Science Academy (IMSA) in Aurora, Illinois. He will be looking for college admission for next year. While each of us is in pursuit of our own work, my wife puts her efforts to take care of the family, and we would certainly be lost without her support.

Chris Laingen

Since the last newsletter was published, I have settled in with my duties here at EIU. The first year flew by, but here is a brief rundown of last year’s highlights:

During the fall and spring semesters, three new courses I proposed successfully passed through various curriculum committees, and since then I have successfully taught two of them, with a good response from students
Presented a research poster at the West Lakes Regional Meeting of the Association of American Geographers (AAG) in St. Paul, MN.

Received a 2009-2010 CFR Grant; the money supported travel, software, and funding for 3 students who helped work on data analysis for a large USGS land cover change project on which I am a Visiting Scientist
Presented a paper related to my current research of the changing geography of the Corn Belt at the 2010 National AAG Meeting in Washington, D.C.

Received a Summer 2010 CFR Grant; the money supported travel during the month of August 2010; Cameron Craig and I traveled around the perimeter of the Corn Belt, interviewed farmers and others involved in agriculture, and are in the process of producing an hour-long documentary film about the trip and the research of how agriculture in the Corn Belt has changed

I became a member of EIU’s Regional Biomass Committee; my work with the committee involves the investigation of the use of corn stover and other agricultural products for future use in EIU’s Renewable Energy Center

Godson Obia, Associate Dean, College of Sciences

My name is Godson Obia. I am a sixteen-year veteran of the Department, having joined the faculty in 1994 after a seven-year stint at the University of Nebraska at Kearney. In October 2000, I went off the beaten path by accepting to serve as Associate Dean of the College of Sciences at Eastern Illinois University. I still remain in that position. I have found my job to be as rewarding as it is challenging. After ten years as an academic administrator, I remain committed to the lofty goals of the Department and support new strategic initiatives in GISci to make the department more competitive. I stay in touch with the faculty and faculty leadership and offer advice and encouragement, when needed, to support departmental efforts to recruit and retain talented students and faculty. I have an active research and publication agenda and belong to several professional associations to enrich my scholarly and leadership experiences. Although these activities must play a diminished role in the life of a dean, they are important to me if I must lead by example.

James Riley

Greetings! I come to Eastern from up the road in Champaign where I have been working on my Ph.D. at the University of Illinois. I am a native Illinoisan – born and raised in Elmhurst, a western suburb of Chicago. I stayed close to home for my undergraduate studies at Elmhurst College, before heading west to complete my Master’s degree at the University of Wyoming. My research interests involve process-based field investigations of fluvial systems, including basic research on the flow structure and channel morphology of stream and river junctions and meander bends, the role of scale on process-form interactions, and human impacts on river systems. I use hydroacoustics to collect three-dimensional velocity and bathymetric data. Most of my field work has been conducted within the middle and lower Wabash River and Little Wabash River drainages, and I am looking forward to pursuing new projects near Charleston. At EIU, I will be teaching Field Methods, Introduction to Physical Geography, Natural Disasters, Geomorphology, and Surface Water Processes and Resources.

My wife, Leanne, and I live in Champaign for the time being (commuting – ugh!). We have a three-year old son, Jakob, and a four-month old daughter, Grace.

Betty E. Smith

An exciting new research topic, the Ponderosa Way Project, involves field work with students in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of northern California. Ponderosa Way was an 800 mile long firebreak planned to protect the big timber at higher elevations from brush fires starting in the lower elevations of the foothills. It was constructed in part by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) during the Depression years of the 1930s. During World War II, the Army became interested in Ponderosa Way as an alternative transportation route for tanks in the event of a west coast invasion by the Japanese. Some of this rugged route passes through private lands and some is public domain. The task of this historical geographic research is to separate fact from fiction regarding the CCC and the Army and to use GPS and GIS strategies with air photos to plot the current status of the route. Geography majors Greg Weber and Craig Westendorf were the first student researchers to spend a week with me in August 2010 taking GPS points and collecting data for 57 miles of the Ponderosa Way Project. There is much more work to be done. As Greg and Craig said, it was an awesome experience!

In terms of research and publications, since our last newsletter I received an EIU Achievement and Contribution Award in the Area of Research, was awarded Huntington Library Reader Privileges to study original manuscripts of Charles Darwin in San Marino, California, and received a 2010 Interdisciplinary Center for Global Diversity Travel Grant of $600. I have published two research articles, “Local Land Use Development Agreements in California,” Papers of the Applied Geography Conferences, Burrell Montz ed., V 33: 392-401 (in press for Oct 2010) and “Population and Urbanization in Latin America and the Caribbean,” Geographische Rundschau International Edition, 6(3): 30-34 (Braunschweig, Germany) (July 2010), and produced a 10 minute video in collaboration with Cameron Craig – "Ecuador: A First Class Adventure," Tempestas et Caelum Productions, Inc. I will be presenting a paper at a conference in Ft. Worth, Texas in October 2010.

I continue to serve as recording secretary of the EIU Latin American Studies program and was named Geography alternate for the US National Section of the hemispheric Pan-American Institute of Geography and History (PAIGH), a unit of the Organization of American States (OAS). We recently split the Geography and Culture of Latin America into two courses to provide increased depth of understanding. I am happy to be teaching Middle America: Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean this fall semester; next year it will be South America.

John Stimac, Dean, Honors College

It’s just been a year since our last newsletter and as you are aware, the department has changed a great deal in that time.  As of 1 July 2010 I have been the Dean of the Honors College.  While that is a full-time job, I haven’t stopped teaching in the department.  This fall I am still teaching Structural Geology – now with 12 students enrolled.  That is a good indication that the number of students interested in geology is increasing – always good news.  I’m also teaching a senior seminar as well as two classes for the Honors College.  As the semester began, I quickly came to the realization that with my four classes this term I am now teaching more as Dean, than I did as Chair.  Oh well – it is something I enjoy and the reason I decided to stay in the academy.  I know that many alumni have had changes in their lives in the last year, so please get in touch with the department and keep us updated.

Jim Stratton, Professor Emeritus

Retirement wears very well as I have somewhat adjusted to not having students and classes.  I do miss the interaction but the time to do my "thing" is extraordinarily enjoyable.  The Department graciously let me have an "emeritus office" in the back half of the Paleontological Collection Lab.  I have been working on the fenestrate bryozoans that I have (and some of you) helped to collect over the years.  I have already found several new, exciting, finds in the collection including potential new ovicellular structures, at least one new species, and several new mysteries of my fossil passion. One of my other hopes is to clean up the paleo collection a little so that it is more  organized.  As you might be able to gather, I am enjoying the academic side of retirement.  I feel that my position should now be termed a "research professor" rather than an "emeritus professor."  The other side of my life is just as enjoyable...working on new decking around the log house, considering several trans-Atlantic cruises as a speaker, traveling to Monterey, and taking care of the farm.  Whew, I think I am busier than I have ever been.  I do miss the classroom and you guys...that was always fun and you never made me feel like it was a job.  Truly, my vocation was my avocation and it still continues.

Dave Viertel

I have had a busy summer teaching senior seminar, followed by a trip home to Texas to visit family. With the start of the new year, I have taken over the reins of both Departmental Internship Coordinator and GTU Advisor. The year promises excitement as I teach Cartography for the first time this Fall and delve into a new interdisciplinary research project with Diane Burns, focused on the Little Wabash River. We will study changes in channel morphology using archival and current imagery as well as ground truth data. We hope to create a geovisualization that will eventually be available on the Geology/Geography research section of our departmental website.