• March 9, 2021
    Geology Student Published in Top Journal

    Emily Yoder and Mona Sirbescu examining pegmatite in the labEmily Yoder, a junior majoring in geology at CMU, can now add ‘published researcher’ to her resume. Her paper titled “The Pegmatite Puzzle: Insights from Mineral Intergrowth Textures” was recently published in The Professional Geologist, the national journal of the American Institute of Professional Geologists (AIPG).

    “After originally submitting my research article to the Michigan AIPG newsletter, I was excited to hear it was also chosen to be published in the national AIPG journal,” said Yoder.

    Yoder and CMU faculty member, Mona Sirbescu, are studying the Emmons pegmatite, located in Oxford County, Maine. Pegmatites form from magma that intruded into Earth's crust and have unique textures, such as very large crystals and mineral intergrowths. These textures are thought to form rapidly from magma cooled far below its equilibrium crystallization temperature ("undercooled" magma). Despite being an increasingly important source of lithium, the crystallization process within pegmatites is still poorly understood.

    Their research focuses on Quartz-Tourmaline Intergrowth (QTI) in order to better understand the evolution of the magma during crystallization. This texture has not been studied in detail before, so their research plays an important part in filling this knowledge gap.

    “During Spring 2020, I wrote a proposal for and received the Undergraduate Summer Scholars Program grant to aid with our research,” said Yoder. “Before coming to CMU, I knew I wanted to participate in undergraduate research, but I did not know what to expect out of it. This project has given me many opportunities I never imagined having. I am grateful for the entire research experience!”

    Congratulations Emily on your remarkable achievement, we love seeing how far a Fired Up Attitude can take you.
  • January 11, 2021
    Hail: Solving a meteorological mystery
    CMU meteorologist and climate scientist leads efforts for better forecasting

    John Allen in front of several computer screens that are monitoring weather​ As severe storm tracking and predictions improve, an element of those storms remains a mystery: hail. Predicting when the balls of ice will fall from the sky is complex, and Central Michigan University's John Allen is on a mission to find answers.

    "There isn't a way of forecasting how big hail will be the day before, or even the day of, it's occurrence," said Allen, a faculty member in Earth and Atmospheric Sciences. "We don't have a good handle on why one storm produces small hail and another will produce really big hail."

    But Allen and his student researchers aim to change that. Better forecasts could mean big savings. By having a better understanding of the processes that lead to hail, Allen is hoping the research will lead to improved forecasts and warnings.

  • December 8, 2020
    More Awards for CMU Geologist

    Mona Sirbescu standing by cactus in the Arizona desert​ Each year the American Association of Professional Geologists Michigan Section chooses one educator who has made a significant impact on geoscience education, and awards them the AIPG Outstanding Educator Award.

    This year we’re excited to announce that our very own Mona Sirbescu has been honored as the AIPG Michigan Section 2020 Outstanding Educator.

    “It is a very nice surprise and a great honor from AIPG,” said Sirbescu, CMU Earth & Atmospheric Sciences faculty member. “I am very grateful to my colleague who sent the nomination letter on my behalf. Also, I am deeply grateful to cohorts of students who constantly push me to better myself as a teacher and mentor.”

    Please help us in congratulating Mona for her outstanding dedication to the academic success of our students. This is a well-deserved honor!
  • October 19, 2020
    Meet CMU Geology Alum, Nathan Brandner

    Nathan Brandner​Senior geologist Nathan Brandner has worked at Barr Engineering Co. for more than 14 years, but his journey started at Central Michigan University. His interest in geology was sparked in Geology 101. What was originally a required course became a lifelong career.

    My professor “got me interested in pursuing a career as a geologist with one sentence. He wrote, ‘You should major in geology!’ as feedback on one of my exams,” Brandner said. “Like many bewildered freshmen, I wasn’t sure what my path at CMU looked like just yet, but geology encompassed all of my interests and passions for the natural sciences.”

    “Earning my undergraduate degree in geology from CMU in 2003 was foundational to my career success,” Brandner said. “Not only did my degree program provide the technical knowledge base that is critical to the work I do for Barr, but my time at CMU helped develop my leadership skills.”

    As a geology major, Brandner experienced hands-on lab work and gained field experience. In partnership with department alumni, he started CMU’s first chapter of the American Institute of Professional Geologists in an effort to bridge the gap between undergraduate geology majors and practicing professional geologists in Michigan. He maintains relationships with practicing geologists he met through starting this group.

    After his time at CMU, Brandner went on to earn his master’s degree at Western Michigan University, and during his time as a graduate student, interned with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ). Brandner credits CMU as a large factor in landing the internship with MDEQ, thanks to the field and lab experiences he was able to experience before graduating.

    “Similar to stumbling upon my field of study, I found my position at Barr by happenstance after following my wife to Minneapolis to finish her doctorate degree,” Brandner said. “I like to think I would have eventually found Barr had I taken an earlier or harder path to land at such a high-caliber environmental and engineering consulting firm.”

    As a senior geologist, Brandner works in the assessment and remediation business unit. He’s responsible for managing a wide variety of sites with environmental issues throughout the United States and Canada and specializes in identifying and characterizing environmental impacts. Much of his time in this role is spent managing projects and assisting clients in navigating state and provincial environmental program obligations.

    “My favorite part of the job is mentoring our young generations of scientists and engineers to build and hone their crafts to help in their early careers and to become future company leaders,” Brandner said.

    For CMU students working to become future scientists and engineers, Brandner advises finding a way to differentiate their resume and expertise from the competition when trying to land an entry-level job.

    “Take advantage of CMU staff and mentors who want to help you along your early educational and professional journey. My experience is that they are in education for a reason. So, take advantage of their time and pursue opportunities beyond the classroom,” Brandner said. “Get involved with clubs and extracurriculars, as those often lead to other opportunities and networking that will help make you into a solid, well-rounded professional for your future career.“
  • October 19, 2020
    Meteorite stardom only scratches surface of geology’s allure

    Faculty expert shines light on space rocks, mining and the glow of ‘yooperlite’
    Mona Sirbescu examines the Edmore meteorite in 2018​The annual Orionid meteor shower is about to grace the heavens with up to 20 "shooting stars" an hour Oct. 20-21.

    Hardly a week goes by without meteors or meteorites (meteors that hit the ground) making the news somewhere. In October 2018, it was Central Michigan University's turn in the spotlight after Mona Sirbescu, a geology faculty member in Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, identified a man's 22-pound iron doorstop as the sixth-largest meteorite ever found in Michigan.

    We spoke with Sirbescu about life after meteorite stardom, earth science and the glowing mineral known in Michigan as "yooperlite"

  • May 19, 2020
    Geology seniors didn't let a quarantine stop them from delivering their senior theses?

    screen shot of web ex meeting​Senior-thesis presentation day at the end of each semester is a well-established tradition for the Geology program, in the Earth and Atmospheric Science department. This May, like everything else in our life these days, our session was completely different. It took place in the virtual space. Three students proudly defended their research results in front of the entire group of geology faculty, current students, and even some of the geology alumni who showed up in the Cisco Webex room of Dr Mona Sirbescu, the organizer of the event.

    It was great to see everyone there showing their support for our program, including former CMU geology alumni going back as far as 2010. Two of the topics on the Michigan Basin geology and one on geochemistry of lithium resources raised quite an interest. Some of the alumni requested to be put in contact with the presenters, so that they can continue a dialog. Perhaps this could lead to further networking, internships, and job opportunities. Other alumni working in the energy sector who could not attend, requested that the session recording presentations to be made available. This unprecedented event shows how tight our CMU geology community really is. So, Big Thank You everyone! Going forward, I think we should always share our events virtually to allow these interactions to happen.

  • May 7, 2020
    Saying goodbye isn't easy
    Graduating senior looks back on his time at CMU

    Nolan Gamet surrounded by cliff walls Nolan Gamet, a senior geology major, has one thing left to do before receiving his diploma…to (virtually) present his senior thesis, which he will do tomorrow (May 8th). However, saying goodbye to the place he has called home for the past handful of years isn’t easy.

    “CMU helped me grow in ways I never thought possible. I learned what it takes to become a student leader, and that every new student that walks onto campus has the potential to do the same,” said Gamet.

    Gamet took advantage of the opportunities presented to students early in his academic career. He was part of the Leadership Institute, Vice President of the student chapter of the American Institute of Professional Geologists, a brother in Beta Theta Pi, and a Student Assistant in the Department of Earth & Atmospheric Sciences.

    “CMU is an amazing place to expand your knowledge, to gain networking and professional experience, and to create memories,” said Gamet. “I can’t think of another place, other than CMU, that allows you to become a student leader, whether it's of a club or RSO, to experience self-growth that you never saw coming, and to meet such a wide diversity of friends in such a short period of time. The more you put in at CMU, the more you will get out of the entire experience.”

    Tomorrow afternoon, Nolan Gamet will present his senior thesis titled “Distribution of Trace Elements in Spodumene: Insights From Preliminary Cathodoluminescence, p-XRF, and SEM Results.” Then, with his diploma in hand, he will join the elite few in the Masters of Geology program at Michigan Technological University focusing in Economic Geology.

    “Nolan is fearless when it comes to new experiences. He took his education very seriously, but that never stopped him from being involved and helping others.” said Mona Sirbescu, professor of geology at CMU. “He has been an inspiring leader for the American Institute of Professional Geologists. I wish him the best in graduate school and future geoscience career!”
  • April 30, 2020
    CMU faculty focusing on student needs while teaching from home
    Maslow's Heirarchy of Needs Known to friends as the KeeloWatts family, Drs. Jordan Watts and Jason Keeler have both made their students’ needs their top priority while teaching from home. They are both teaching with Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs in mind.

    Applied to their courses, Maslow’s Hierarchy means that a student’s access to food, shelter, friendship, and sense of self-esteem are all necessary before they can succeed at mathematics or grow as a future meteorologist. Through a discussion of Maslow’s Hierarchy at the start of all of Dr. Keeler’s courses, or by sharing information on it through Dr. Watts’ website, their students are made aware of all the resources available at CMU to help them if they are having difficulty with any of these needs. The current semester and the COVID-19 pandemic have emphasized the importance of applying Maslow’s Hierarchy to higher education. With finals week around the corner, Drs. Watts and Keeler reflect on the shift to online teaching and how they’ve been able to best serve their students during this challenging time.

    Jordan Watts in his home officeThis semester Dr. Watts is teaching the mathematics capstone course and a graduate course, and both of Dr. Keeler’s courses are required for the meteorology major. Their focus has been ensuring their students learn the material that they will either use in subsequent courses or in their careers. They share a tablet to record annotated videos of course content for all of their courses. Dr. Watts takes advantage of his home office’s chalkboard for videos, and Jason Keeler in his home officeDr. Keeler uses his usual format of notes: slides that students get to fill in during class. He’s made an addition this semester, “I’ve also uploaded the annotated slides to Blackboard so that students with limited internet don’t have to watch the full lectures to get all of the content.” Both professors have kept planned assignments including homework and projects, but Dr. Watts sums up their shared policy on extensions for this semester as “any student needing an extension gets it without question.” With Dr. Keeler adding “we’re all affected by this in one way or another, and we don’t want that to affect our students’ learning experience or grade.”

    The hours spent adapting their courses to online format and stress of having several family members infected with COVID-19 have led Drs. Keeler and Watts to practice what they preach in terms of Maslow’s Hierarchy. Dr. Keeler is an avid gardener and this time of the year his office is a makeshift greenhouse, “so students might have noticed trays of tomato and pepper seedlings in the background during some of our meetings.” Dr. Watts has been reading (both math and non-math) as a way to escape and unwind after a day of recording videos and Webex committee meetings.

    What’s their advice for students going into the summer? “Make time for hobbies and practice self-care. We look forward to seeing you in our classes this fall!”
  • April 16, 2020
    Why are storms getting worse?

    Prestigious grant will fund faculty member's climate change related research
    photo of severe thunderstorm​ The world's climate is getting warmer. Severe storms are causing billions of dollars in damage across the globe each year.

    To help improve our understanding of the link between a globally warming climate and the increase in the number and severity of storms, Central Michigan University faculty member John Allen, in the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, has received a grant of nearly $660,000 from the National Science Foundation to study severe convective storms, or thunderstorms.

    The research goal is to improve our understanding of the link between a globally warming climate and the increase in the number and severity of storms.

    "We can't stop the problem, but if we have better education and forecasting, we can better prepare people and mitigate the amount of damage," said Allen.

  • January 16, 2020
    The STARLAB welcomed a visiting scholar from Denmark to explore Vanadium geochemistry in unique rocks

    Anthony Chappaz and Leibo Bian in the STARLABTowards the end of the last semester, Leibo Bian, Ph.D. student from the University of Aarhus, came to Central Michigan University for four weeks to learn about the trace element molecular geochemistry approach developed by Dr. Anthony Chappaz. Leibo’s Ph.D. project consists in studying vanadium geochemistry in Danish and Chinese Lower Paleozoic Shale samples.

    Vanadium has become a vital element for many industrial applications and securing its supply requires a deep understanding of the geochemical processes controlling its burial. Dr. Anthony Chappaz, associate professor within the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences and Director of the STARLAB, acts as a co-supervisor for Leibo’s Ph.D.

    During his visit, Leibo was trained in using new analytical methods to characterize vanadium in sedimentary rocks. He successfully collected very promising data that will serve to identify some sites in China that Dr. Anthony Chappaz and Leibo will visit in July 2020 for collecting additional samples.
  • November 26, 2019
    The Mysterious Case of the Disappearing Contaminant

    Rewind to 1958, Charles Gelman, a recent college graduate, creates a filter that can be used, among other things, to detect pollution in the air and water. A few years later, Gelman Sciences and their new filters are an industry leader in the Ann Arbor Area.

    Much like other manufacturing plants, Gelman Sciences uses chemicals, more specifically 1,4-dioxane (a clear colorless liquid used as a solvent in the manufacture of chemicals…and a likely human carcinogen), in the creation of its filters, a chemical that needs to be disposed of. With little to no regulation at the time, the plant fills storage lagoons with chemically tainted water and sprays it on the lawns as a way to get rid of it.

    Overflows and leaks in the storage lagoons and spraying the tainted water on the lawns allowed the contaminant to seep into and pollute the soil and groundwater near the plant, which over time spread into a large plume of contamination underneath the northwest area of Ann Arbor.

    While pollution problems at the Gelman site were first reported in 1968, it wasn’t until 1984 when groundwater investigations began and dangerous levels of dioxane were detected in a small lake near the Gelman site and in nearby wells.

    That’s when officials put a “pump and treat” plan into place. Since then, millions of gallons of tainted groundwater have been extracted, treated to remove the contaminants, and released to surface waters or re-injected back into the ground, and over time, the levels of dioxane in the groundwater have slowly but steadily diminished.

    Fast-forward to 2011. Test results from locations up to two miles away from the source of the dioxane start to show the contaminant disappearing faster than the pump and treat process is removing it. So…where is it going? Why the sudden sizable decrease in dioxane levels?

    Leah Jackson studying sample under microscopeThat’s exactly what Leah Jackson, a Ph.D. student in the Earth & Ecosystem Science program at CMU is trying to figure out.

    Leah believes the pump and treat process may have been masking nature’s efforts to remove the dioxane. Now that those dioxane levels have been lowered to a certain threshold, nature’s efforts are able to remove the contaminant at a measurable rate. She thinks that one of two things may be happening.

    One hypothesis is that the dioxane is being removed by sorption. The contaminant is sticking to the organic material in the soil and being filtered from the groundwater. Her second hypothesis is that the dioxane is biodegrading, basically being eaten by some sort of bio-microbe.

    Leah Jackson testing sample in the labIn her lab at CMU, Leah is testing each of her hypotheses.

    What’s interesting is that we know that dioxane degrades in aerobic conditions, where oxygen is present. However, the researchers suspect conditions under the ground at the Gelman site are anaerobic, no oxygen. If biodegradation is happening under these anaerobic conditions, that could lead to a world of new possibilities in bioremediation – the use of microbes to remove dioxane.

    Leah has requested access to Gelman Site water samples from the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE – formerly the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality) – the state agency that oversees the site. Once she has access to the water, she will be able to test her biodegradation hypothesis.
  • October 2, 2019
    When prose meets geology

    Anthony Chappaz and Allyson Tessin​A recent study published in GEOLOGY by Dr. Anthony Chappaz and his collaborator Dr. Allyson Tessin from the University of Southern Mississippi had the honor to be made a sonnet by the Lounge of the Lab Lemming. The article entitled “Molybdenum speciation as a paleo-redox proxy: A case study from Late Cretaceous Western Interior Seaway black shales” demonstrates the need to apply a molecular geochemical approach combining analyses of concentration, isotope ratio and speciation for properly using paleo-redox proxies to reconstruct the Earth’s oxygenation.

    Here the sonnet:

    Molybdenum is sulfur’s stable mate
    Unfractionated isotopes preserved
    Like genteel Dr Jekyll, sometimes fate
    Disrupts the inner peace that is deserved.
    When oxygen attacks stable sulfide
    Molybdenate and sulfate are dissolved
    Adsorption onto rust, like Mr Hyde
    Wreaks horrid fractionation, unresolved.
    The speciation in a rock controls
    If seawater Mo isotopes remain.
    A moly oxide, even in black coals
    May fractionate the isotopes again.
    The near adsorption edge of XANES can tell
    If moly isotopes have gone to Hell
  • September 12, 2019
    Faculty member authenticates another meteorite

    Michigan native has a 36-pound meteorite
    Magkena Szemak holding fishing pole​A former Grand Rapids resident has come back to Michigan to seek answers about a 36-pound meteorite he has in his possession.

    Daniel Osmer got the meteorite two years ago from a friend who inherited his grandmother’s estate in Sebastopol, California.

    The meteorite, silver-gray and shiny, is 36 pounds. It reportedly came with a certificate that said it was from the 1947 Sikhote-Alin meteorite fall in Siberia, where a large iron meteor exploded and broke into many pieces before it hit the ground, leaving many remnants for scientists and collectors to find over the years.

    Osmer recently brought the meteorite to Michigan from his home in Santa Rosa, California to have it examined by Mona Sirbescu, a professor of geology at Central Michigan University.

  • August 30, 2019
    Student wins Muter scholarship

    Winner’s goal is to address environmental concerns impacting marginalized communities
    Magkena Szemak holding fishing pole​Magkena Szemak, a Central Michigan University junior honors student majoring in environmental science in the College of Science and Engineering, has been chosen a winner of the John A. Muter Memorial Scholarship. The scholarship recognizes college undergraduates who are committed to engaging new audiences and new generations with Michigan's natural resources and outdoor heritage. Szemak, of Ann Arbor, Michigan, is minoring in community health and plans to bring her major and minor together to address environmental health concerns impacting marginalized communities. At Central, Szemak conducts research and community outreach efforts with the Institute for Great Lakes Research. Her other leadership roles include being a counselor for the 4-H Great Lakes & Natural Resources Camp in Presque Isle, Michigan, and vice president of scouting and youth services for the Alpha Phi Omega service fraternity at CMU.
  • August 28, 2019
    Possible Links between Warming and Tornadoes Are Still Murky

    New research finds connections between ocean temperatures and tornado activity (photo courtesy of Layne Kennedy, Getty Images)
    Tornado touching down in Kansas​(CMU meteorology faculty member Jonn Allen featured in this Scientific American article) Among natural disasters, tornadoes are notoriously difficult to predict. They require a complex set of conditions in order to form, some of which scientists still don't fully understand, and forecasting is rarely accurate more than a week or two in advance. That makes it even harder to parse out the potential influence of global warming on tornado season. But scientists have begun to uncover some intriguing links between tornado outbreaks in the United States and large-scale climate patterns in other parts of the world. Shifting ocean temperatures, thousands of miles away, may have an influence on twisters in some of the nation's most tornado-prone states.

  • June 5, 2019
    Students seek education in a storm

    CMU becomes Michigan’s only university with a weather research vehicle
    Weather Vehicle​This summer, it will be impossible not to notice the CMU meteorology students and new earth and atmospheric sciences faculty member Jason Keeler driving along the southwest coast of Lake Michigan. They'll be inside a silver Ford Explorer with whirling gadgets attached to a metal frame on the front bumper. Officially, it is the department's first mobile weather observation vehicle, also known as a mobile mesonet. It is outfitted with computers and meteorological instruments to measure temperature, wind speed and direction, humidity, and more. CMU is the only Michigan university to have such a vehicle, and one of only a handful in the country, said Keeler, who recently finished his first academic year at Central.

  • May 17, 2019
    Meteorology student awarded first ever AMS Women in Science Scholarship

    Olivia VanBuskirkThe first ever American Meteorological Society Women in Science Scholarship, funded by a group of female scientists to support the next generation of women in science, has found its way to CMU.

    The scholarship, one of only 21 different awards the society grants to students nationwide who are entering their senior year, was awarded to Olivia VanBuskirk, a junior from Port Huron, Michigan, majoring in meteorology.

    The $10,000 scholarship also includes lodging and registration at the society's 100th annual meeting in January 2020.

    Olivia will spend this summer conducting research with faculty at the University of Michigan as part of the National Science Foundation sponsored Research Experience for Undergraduates program.

    Upon graduating from CMU, Olivia plans to pursue a Ph.D., and improve society's ability to make effective use of weather forecasts in the protection of life and property.
  • May 1, 2019
    Meteorology student selected as Hollings Scholar

    Dennis WeaverDennis Weaver, a CMU meteorology sophomore from Trenton Ohio, Centralis Scholar, and member of the honors program, was recently selected as a 2019 National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Hollings Scholar.

    The Ernest F. Hollings Undergraduate Scholarship program accepts about 130 students each year from a wide variety of disciplines that interface with NOAA’s activities. Over the last 10 years, CMU’s meteorology program has had 5 Hollings recipients. Not bad considering the program graduates around 12 students per year.

    “The scholarship is only available to 2nd year students, so I encourage those that might have a shot at it to apply,” said CMU meteorology faculty member Marty Baxter.

    Weaver will receive up to $9,500 per year in scholarship money over the next two years, and a 10-week, full-time paid internship at the NOAA office of his choice.

    Dennis is most interested in “how we improve communication of weather information with the public so that the public might take the most appropriate actions to mitigate losses,” Baxter said.

    Weaver, along with the other Hollings Scholars, will also present their research at the annual Science & Education Symposium held each year in Washington D.C.
  • April 29, 2019
    Geology senior brings home AIPG award

    Sarah Pearson and Adam Heft, two Michigan Section Board members presenting Carly with her awardCarly Hoeft, a senior from Portage, Michigan, majoring in geology was recently awarded a prestigious American Institute of Professional Geologists award.  Hoeft's essay titled "Why I Want to Be a Geologist" won her one of the only 10 awards that were handed out this year by the AIPG.

    "Having won the award, AIPG asks that I submit my essay, photograph and an article about a timely professional issue for publication in The Professional Geologist," Hoeft said.

    Hoeft has been researching pegmatites with geology faculty member Mona Sirbescu since last summer and plans to present her research at the Geological Society of American conference this September in Arizona.
  • March 1, 2019
    Meteorite makes fresh impact

    Smithsonian geologist who confirmed discovery at CMU draws a crowd
    Smithsonian meteorite curator Catherine Corrigan, left, and CMU’s Mona Sirbescu identified and classified the Edmore meteorite.Before a standing-room-only crowd in Park Library, Central Michigan University earth and atmospheric sciences faculty member Mona Sirbescu welcomed a visiting guest of honor. "Thank you so much for traveling all over from the asteroid belt to be with us on Planet Earth," she said with a smile to the Edmore meteorite, the former doorstop she famously identified in 2018 as a rock from outer space. The 22-pound chunk of iron and nickel rested on a cart in front of her on the Opperman Auditorium stage. It shared top billing with the event's flesh-and-blood star: geologist Catherine Corrigan, curator of Antarctic meteorites at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. A Michigan native and onetime CMU instructor, Corrigan helped authenticate and analyze the Edmore meteorite in Washington, D.C., after Sirbescu sent her a slice of the rock. Her visit Thursday was her first chance to see the entire meteorite in person.

  • November 26, 2018
    CMU's Wendy Robertson, Recipient of the 2018 International Association of Hydrogeologists International Service Award

    ​(by Andy Manning, The Hydrogeologist Newsletter of the GSA Hydrogeology Division)
    International Association of Hydrogeologists U S National Charter President Jim LaMoreaux presenting award to Wendy RobertsonDr. Wendy Robertson of Central Michigan University has been selected to receive the 2018 International Association of Hydrogeologists U.S. Chapter's International Service Award. The Award recognizes the efforts of hydrogeologists based in the United States who have shown an outstanding commitment to assisting the international community with groundwater-related needs. Wendy is receiving the International Service Award in recognition of her tireless and selfless work over the past eight years with Well Aware, an international nonprofit organization that provides drinking water systems in areas of water scarcity. Wendy's work as lead hydrogeologist has been instrumental in successfully providing clean and sustainable water systems for 52 communities and over 220,000 people in east Africa in great need. Her commitment, technical expertise, and willingness to work extensively on the ground directly with benefiting communities (taking numerous trips to east Africa) is a major reason why Well Aware boasts a 100% project success rate. This is truly exceptional in east Africa, where many water systems installed by nonprofits fail within a year of installation, and it could not be achieved without Wendy's dedication of countless hours of careful planning, smart implementation, and persistent follow-up on projects. Amazingly, she has performed this work largely on her own time, while maintaining a full-time faculty position at Central Michigan University. As an Assistant Professor in the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at CMU, she further shares her passion for helping communities in desperate need of clean water by mentoring students involved with projects providing water to critical need areas. The Award will be presented to Wendy during the Hydrogeology Division Luncheon and Awards Ceremony at the Geological Society of America Annual Meeting in Indianapolis, Indiana on Tuesday, November 6th. We hope you can join us there for the presentation. Congratulations Wendy!
  • October 11, 2018
    CMU prof to advise governor

    Lemke picked for state board that targets environmental and natural resources issues
    Larry LemkeLawrence Lemke, chair of Central Michigan University’s Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, is among Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder’s initial appointments to the state Environmental Science Advisory Board. The nine-member board was created to advise the governor on issues affecting the protection of the environment and the management of the state’s natural resources. “Each individual has a unique set of skills to ensure Michigan’s natural resources and environment are preserved and protected,” Snyder said. Lemke’s current research encompasses groundwater pollution, air pollution and soil contamination. His term runs to Oct. 4, 2020.

  • October 3, 2018
    CMU prof catches a falling star

    Smithsonian considers $100,000 former doorstop for its collection
    22 pound meteoriteThroughout her 18 years at Central Michigan University, Mona Sirbescu, a geology faculty member in earth and atmospheric sciences, has had many people ask her if the rock they had found was a meteorite. "For 18 years, the answer has been categorically 'no' — meteor wrongs, not meteorites," she said with a smile. That has changed. Earlier this year a man from Grand Rapids, Michigan, asked her to examine a large rock that he has had for 30 years. She was skeptical but agreed to meet him. When he arrived, he pulled out of a bag the biggest potential meteorite she had ever been asked to examine. "I could tell right away that this was something special," she said. She determined that it was in fact a 22-plus pound meteorite, making it the sixth-largest recorded find in Michigan — and potentially worth $100,000.

  • September 17, 2018
    Seeking origins of life in rocks

    Geochemistry student gets training at nation's top labs, in running to get experiment time
    National School on Neutron and X-ray scattering labYou could say that Stephan Hlohowskyj is on the road to becoming a rock star. He is the first Central Michigan University graduate student to ever have been accepted to the prestigious National School on Neutron and X-Ray Scattering at the nation's two top research laboratories: Argonne National Laboratory and Oak Ridge National Laboratory. And he was the only geoscientist there. The third-year molecular geochemistry doctoral student is using state-of-the-art techniques to explore the origins of life and the first signs of oxygen on Earth by examining trace metals in rocks. He was among the 30 percent ­of applicants nationwide who were accepted to get hands-on training in the research techniques available at the two national labs. Now that he has completed the summer program, he was invited to apply to run his experiment at Oak Ridge using its neutron technology, which can better pinpoint metals in Earth materials, like sedimentary rocks.

  • June 22, 2018
    Geology exam comes to CMU

    Status as Michigan's only test site could boost CMU graduates and program
    Geology displayBecoming the first and only location in Michigan where budding geologists can take a national exam required for licensing could help Central Michigan University’s own geology students. Administering the Fundamentals of Geology Exam here will allow CMU’s geology program to use it as an assessment tool to help determine how well students are prepared in eight fundamental content areas and improve on the program’s 85 percent placement rate in jobs and graduate schools, said Lawrence Lemke, chair of the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences. The National Association of State Boards of Geology has approved CMU to be the only location in Michigan where geology majors can take the exam — a step toward becoming licensed. CMU seniors are encouraged to take the exam in their final semester or soon after graduation.

  • April 25, 2018
    More frequent severe storms?

    Senior's meteorology research predicts increase in Michigan
    Weather Map of MichiganEmily Tinney's senior research project has good news for future Michigan severe storm chasers, not-so-good news for builders. The Central Michigan University meteorology major from Haslett, Michigan, has determined through computer models that there could be a 35 percent increase in the frequency of the most intense storms in Michigan. "Knowing this will help us to prepare by building our infrastructure better and taking steps to protect our agriculture from more damaging storms," said Tinney, who compared storm data from 1990-2005 to 2085-2100. "No one has looked at how the change in weather patterns will impact Michigan in the future from a life-and-property standpoint." She presented her findings Tuesday, April 24, at the state Capitol during CMU's 17th annual Capitol Scholars event, which showcases CMU's student research projects to the public and recognizes how they advance the understanding of science and technology.

  • Drilling for geological answers
    CMU faculty member on global team looking for climate data beneath ocean
    Natalia ZakharovaIt didn't take long for Natalia Zakharova to launch into research after joining the earth and atmospheric sciences faculty in August. At the end of January, the Central Michigan University assistant professor joined 33 scientists from around the world to study one of the most seismically active areas in Europe: a 5-million-year-old rift in the Gulf of Corinth. The expedition drilled deep into the "young" rift for sediment cores that tell the geologic history of the area, such as faulting, landscape evolution, earthquake activity and climate fluctuations. Zakharova aims to bring some core samples back to CMU, where she has been creating a lab that she and students will use to study the conditions under which rocks break and rifts form.

  • A boatload of opportunities
    It's raining possibilities for former New York meteorologist pursuing her Ph.D. at CMU
    Maria MolinaFrom New York City weather forecaster on Fox News to doctoral student at Central Michigan University to adventurer on an Antarctic expedition, meteorologist Maria Molina is harnessing the winds of change. Molina left New York in 2016 to pursue a Ph.D. in earth and ecosystem science at CMU, but over the horizon was something she couldn't have predicted: being chosen for a monthlong expedition to Antarctica with women of science from around the world. In November, Molina found out she was accepted into Homeward Bound, an initiative launched in December 2016 to create a global network of women with backgrounds in STEMM (science, technology, engineering, math and medicine) to help influence environmental policy.

  • CMU meteorology students learn science behind hurricanes
    Photo courtesy of 9&10 News
    Marty Baxter in front of digital weather mapAs Hurricane Irma tore through Florida, meteorology students at Central Michigan University used it as a chance to learn about forecasting hurricanes. Since students got to campus, they’ve been watching to see what’s going on with the major hurricanes to hit the United States this year and understand the science behind them. We met the next generation of meteorologists. They include Cedar Junior Woody Unruh. They’ve spent the past few weeks learning as much as they can about hurricanes. “It’s completely different to see it in a real world setting. You see these concepts that we talk about in class and you see them actually applied to the real world, which is really interesting to see how storms move and basically, it’s not just a text book,” said Unruh. They’ve covered everything from how the storms form to what influences where they’ll head.

  • Tropics producing more hurricanes this year
    Just days after Hurricane Harvey devastated parts of Texas and Louisiana, Hurricane Irma is taking aim on the southeastern U.S. In addition, there are two more named storms in the Atlantic basin at this time: Jose and Katia. "So we're, I think, about two storms above normal by this date in a typical season," said Dr. John Allen, Assistant Professor of Meteorology at Central Michigan University. "And part of that is we've actually been extremely low in previous seasons." The last time a major hurricane made landfall in the Atlantic basin was back in 2011. Before that, it was 2005 during the times of Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma. Dr. Allen -- who specializes in hazardous weather -- says no one knows for sure why 2017 is more active than recent years, but says there are some contributing factors.

  • CMU presents at this year's Midwest Geobiology Symposium
    Student explaining research posterGeobiology is a rising field of interdisciplinary study centered around the interactions between earth and biological systems – the "co-evolution of life and the earth." This can range from nearly pure chemistry, as in Dr. Anthony Chappaz's research group, to microbiology studied by Dr. Deric Learman's team, and including those of us in between who use biological markers to get at interactions between life and geochemistry. This October, several of us drove to Cincinnati for the 5th annual Midwest Geobiology Symposium (www.midwestgeobiology.org), hosted by the biology and geology departments of the University of Cincinnati.

    The Geobiology Symposium is intended, primarily, to be a forum for early career researchers to present their findings, get feedback, and network with like-minded scientists in the region. All presentations are given by graduate students or postdocs, and posters are primarily by postdocs, graduate students, and undergrads. The conference is sponsored by the Agouron Foundation, a California-based private non-profit.

    ​​This year, Stephan Hlohowskyj (pictured), a new EES Ph. D. student in the Chappaz group, presented his research on developing a novel tool for quantifying molybdenum species in sulfidic water. Trace metals like molybdenum are key witnesses in the great forensic investigation of when and how Earth's atmosphere became oxygenated. Geologists haven't yet done a thorough job of cross-examining these witnesses; Stephan's dissertation research will provide the tools needed to improve that investigation. We were also accompanied by Clara Brennan (also in picture), an undergraduate doing her capstone project with the Chappaz group. Clara survived her first conference with great aplomb, especially given that the interdisciplinary nature of geobiology means she was faced with information from traditionally very unfamiliar fields.

    Next year, the Midwest Geobiology Symposium will be held at Washington University, St. Louis and we're aiming to bring an even larger group of student presenters
  • Weathering a century of storms and sun - National Weather Service honors CMU for 100 years of service
    Local forecasters often cite historical data to provide perspective on days the weather feels like it’s going to extremes. For example, in the sweltering summer sun they’ll point out that 106 degrees is the hottest temperature recorded in Mount Pleasant, and when the temperature drops below zero, they offer the frigid fact that 30 below is the coldest temperature on record.

  • National Weather Service honored CMU with its partnership and 100 years of observation
    The National Weather Service named Central Michigan University a Weather-Ready Nation Ambassador Monday with an award honoring its partnership and 100 years of weather observations.

  • CMU to offer new major in Environmental Science
    Central Michigan University's Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences is introducing a bachelor of science degree​ in environmental science and will be accepting students starting this fall. The new program is designedd to provide students with an in-depth understanding of environmental systems and prepare them for positions in a high-demand sector.

  • Digging deep into Earth's science - geology majors learn from experience
    In a recent classroom lab at Central Michigan University, students sat at the edges of their seats prepared for what ​​could only be called a rocking good time.

  • CMU meteorology students launch weather balloon in storm
    Central Michigan University meteorology students launched a helium-filled weather balloon - with meteorological instruments trailing behind - into the angry skies (Wednesday). The goal of the launch is to collect a profile of the atmosphere in order to collect information to help combat the uncertainty of forecasting spring storms.

  • CMU's Dr. Marty Baxter participates in winter weather forecasting experiment
    Marty Baxter in front of classDuring the week of February 15 - Dr. Baxter took part in the annual Winter Weather Forecasting Experiment at NOAA's Center for Climate and Weather Prediction in College Park, Maryland. This month-long experiment pairs forecasters and researchers from around the country with forecasters from the Weather Prediction Center. During the experiment, newly developed computer models and forecast techniques are tested for winter weather events across the U.S. In addition, Dr. Baxter gave a presentation for NOAA personnel on his research on the "Distribution of Single-Banded Snowfall in Cold-Season Central United States Cyclones".

  • Mapping Mother Nature's impact on wine - CMU students track weather patterns at Michigan winery
    The unique Michigan weather on Old Mission Peninsula plays a key part in making your glass of pinot perfect. For CMU meteorology faculty and students, this make the region ripe for research to help maintain Michigan's $300 million wine industry.

  • CMU professor presents research at international symposium in Poland and Germany
    Mona SirbescuIn June, 2015 Dr. Mona Sirbescu presented her recent research developments on magma crystallization at two international conferences. The 7th International Symposium on Granitic Pegmatites in Ksiaz, Poland, (17th – 21st of Jun​e) was attended by about 100 scientists from 6 continents. She also gave an invited talk at the annual conferences of DMG, the German Mineralogical Society in Potsdam, Germany (26th -27th of June) to an audience of about 60 researchers specialized in the areas of Petrology, Petrophysics, and Geochemistry.

  • CMU Alumnus becomes CNN meteorologist
    When he was a child, Derek Van Dam built a tree fort in his front yard and climbed it every day. One day, while watching a blustery thunderstorm from the window of his childhood home, his tree fort was knocked over. Frustrated but full of wonder he developed a passion for science, the atmosphere and the weather.