University of Michigan EARTH eNews: August 2020

Dear Alumni and Friends,
Greetings from Ann Arbor. Despite the pandemic, the work of the Department has continued with some adaptation. We worked from home, collaborated remotely, and did without access to the facilities and people we rely upon. Some of the things we've been doing are highlighted below. As the Fall Term rapidly approaches, we are adapting our courses and and staff scheduling to the realities of COVID-19. None of this would be possible without the dedication and flexibility of our faculty, satff, and students.

We hope that you and yours are safe and well.

If you have news to share in these eNewsletters or the Department's printed newsletter, please let us know by emailing us at

Sincerely, Adam Simon and Kacey Lohmann

Recent Grads Share How They Adapted Their Senior Thesis Research to Fit COVID-19

When the university announced it was shutting down campus and shifting courses to being held remotely, soon-to-be-graduating seniors quickly realized that their time at Michigan would be coming to an end without any of the typical fanfare – no graduation ceremonies or wading north through the fountain – and without saying goodbye to their friends. But the end of the semester was disrupted even more for seniors in Earth who were finishing work on their undergraduate thesis research. For these students, their projects represent at least a year of dedicated, self-motivated work; completing a senior thesis is a huge accomplishment. Rebbecca Dzombak catches up with some of these students to find out how they adapted.

Read the complete aricle.

Photo: Steven Wedel snorkeling in Turks and Caicos, where he did fieldwork. Melissa Wood. Catherine Seguin is in the desert, holding up a sample of biological soil crust.

Michigan Virtual Earth Week (ViEW)-May 18 to 22

Social distancing rules prevented in-person gatherings, but that didn't stop us from sharing the activities that define us. The focus for the week was set of posts aggregated in a “Where in the world is Michigan EARTH?” map (, featuring what we all do - whether it’s working on campus, doing fieldwork locally or far away, teaching in any form, and/or outreach.

We hosted a series of rapid-fire presentations on the May 20th. Each speaker was allowed 20 slides and 20 seconds per slide. We got to hear from:

  • Brian Arbic: The Coastal Ocean Environment Summer School in Ghana (COESSING)
  • Adam Simon: U-M undergraduate involvement in COESSING
  • Nik Midttun: Titus Canyon Mapping Project
  • Ben van der Pluijm: Maryland Appalachians Field Trip
  • Jackie Wrage: Israel/Jordan department field trip
  • Nathan Niemi: Caucasus Continental Collision
  • Emma Rieb: Alaska field work
  • Naomi Levin: Giraffes, Hippos, and A Rare Isotoper
  • Meg Veitch: The not so "sessile" crinoids
  • Robert Holder: Death Valley fieldwork

On a more social note, we held a Virtual Happy Hour where staff, faculty, and students chatted about how things were going, a few pets wandered into frame, and wall decorations admired.

Virtual Earth Week finished off with presentation of the Department Undergraduate Awards and Department Graduate Awards

MichiganEARTH Receives Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Funding
The departmental DEI committee (Jena Johnson, Juliana Mesa, Zachary Quirk, and Selena Smith) is pleased to announce that we received Rackham funding in May to improve the climate, retention, and academic and professional development of our graduate students, through 1) a DEI library and book club (which will be open to all members of department), 2) expand mentoring in our community, 3) develop the DEI portion of our EARTH website. We will also continue to fund student CommuniTEA groups and DEI development mini-grants. Our first book discussion will revolve around "So you want to talk about race" by Ijeoma Olu. The DEI committee also held office hours on June 4th to provide a space for department members (staff, students, and faculty) to come together, process, and share reactions and responses to the recent reminders of the persistent oppression and systemic anti-Black racism of our country. We had a fruitful conversation discussing further ideas to make our department more diverse and inclusive and will be holding more DEI office hours in the future. These efforts complement a suite of current and ongoing internal and outreach initiatives aimed at supporting a diverse and inclusive geoscience workforce. For example, a virtual version of Earth Camp is about to begin - stay tuned for updates on how it goes! We invite anyone with further suggestions regarding actions we can implement to improve department diversity, equity, and inclusivity to share your ideas with us at

Smith Lecture Series to be Virtual for Fall 2020
The Smith Lecture Series-long a staple feature of the Deparment's social and academic life-has been moved to the realm of the virtual for the 2020 Fall Term. They will be held as Zoom webinars. The details of each presentation will be distributed through our usual channels. You may find this information in the news feed on the Department web page, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and our email announcements group.

Alumni: Join LSA Connect and Mentor Undergraduates at the University of Michigan
LSA Connect is a vehicle for alums like you to give back to LSA students. Being an engaged and active member of LSA Connect means remaining part of the LSA community, participating in the great mission work that is mentoring others, and being connected to an overarching purpose of guiding students through a critical period of their professional lives.

As an alum, you can connect with other alums for peer-to-peer coaching, powerful introductions, and new professional opportunities.

Learn more at the LSA Website

Undergraduate Student awarded AIPG Scholarship

Hailey R. Pantaleo (Earth and Environmental Sciences Major) has been awarded a scholarship by the AIP for her essay and academic record. Her essay will be published in an upcoming issue of The Professional Geologist

Alumni Career Survey

We'd like to thank all of you who responded to our Alumni Career Survey. 245 of you have given us feedback on your careers and the things you feel are important to the programs of the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences. This information will be used to evaluate and improve the Department and its offerings. We count ourselves fortunate in the dedication of our alumni to bettering the Department.

More news, events, and general interest articles can be found on the department web site. You can follow the field trips, research, and Camp Davis on Twitter and Instagram

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