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Charles Darwin, an English naturalist, geologist, and biologist, was born February 12, 1809. Described as one of the most influential figures in human history, Darwin is best known for his contributions to the science of evolution.
Today, February 12 is known as “Darwin Day,” an annual, international celebration of the life and work of Charles Darwin. Darwin Day at UT is one of the longest running annual celebrations of Charles Darwin’s scientific advances and the 2017 event will mark the 20th year of Darwin Day on the UT campus.
Two of UT's organizers, Jennifer Bauer and Sarah Sheffield recently published a paper about the celebration and their experience in Evolution: Education and Outreach. Read More.
Each year, organizers focus on a topic to inform the public about evolution and its importance as a unifying concept in all of biology. In 2016, the weeklong series of events focused on a central theme of paleontology. Graduate students in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences helped organize Darwin Day.
Bauer is a current EPS graduate student, and Sheffield (’17), is a visiting instructor of paleobiology and sedimentology at the University of South Florida.
Nancy Walls, widow of UT geology Professor, Jimmy Walls, has made another major gift to UT. It will be used to support student and faculty activities and is in memory of Jimmy’s 47 years as a faculty member in geology. The gift will be recognized by the naming of both of the large lecture halls (150 seat & 250 seat) in Strong Hall after Jimmy and Nancy. Andrew Sheehy (CAS Development) and Larry McKay (EPS department head) took Nancy for lunch recently to celebrate and receive the check. At the restaurant, she was greeted by owner, Mike Conner, who hadn’t seen Nancy in years but immediately recognized her and told us about how much he enjoyed Jimmy’s course when he was an undergrad in 1969. They then visited UT, so Nancy could see the old Walls Hall in the EPS building one last time. She received an ovation from the Geology 103 students when Larry explained who she was, then Andrew took her to see our new building.
Professor McKay visited Peter Knappett recently at Texas A&M where Peter is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Geology and Geophysics. Dr. McKay gave a seminar on his research on the hydrogeology of fractured clay and shale, as well as a lunch time talk on his career mentoring courses for grads and undergrads. Highlights of the trip included a pizza party with Peter’s wife, Kelly, and his graduate students, as well as a visit to the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum. They also had a tour of the National Center for Electron Beam Research, which uses electrons to sterilize food and surgical equipment, and has a lab that prepares and sterilizes most of the food consumed by American Astronauts on the International Space Station.
Alyssa received a PhD in paleontology from the University of Southern California and is now a postdoc at the LA County Museum. She also works for two environmental firms doing consulting on paleo and hydrogeology and for Cal Poly Pomona, teaching Evolution for a professor on sabbatical. She was in South Africa at the IGC meeting in August and ran into Linda.
Rhiannon is an Associate Professor at Texas Christian University and was recently awarded the Oscar and Juanita Monnig Chair of Meteortics and Planetary Science. This is an endowed chair, which comes with honors and responsibilities: Rhiannon is faculty member and curator of the Oscar E. Monnig Meteorite Collection, which is one of the largest university-based meteorite collections in the world.
Mark has been an R&D scientist for AquaShield, Inc. in Chattanooga since 2005. "I never dreamed of getting into manufacturing stormwater treatment devices. I mostly performs product development, testing and regulatory affairs for domestic and international markets."
Christian is a senior geological advisor with Saudi Aramco. He joined Quantum Reservoir Impact LLC in 2010, where he has worked in reservoirs in Mexico and Kuwait. He has been active in the Dhahran Geoscience Society and the AAPG, in which he has served in a number of positions, including the AAPG International Distinguished Lecturer for 2009/2010 and the AAPG Middle East delegate for the last 10 years.
After a few years in the oil industry, Phillip is now working in Knoxville for GEOServices LLC, consulting on environmental projects.
Michael has recently worked as a qualified drilling inspector for Bauer Foundation Corporation on remediation of the Center Hill Dam in Tennessee. He currently is lead geologist for TreviIcos Corporation on remediation of the Bolivar Dam in northeastern Ohio. Michael also continues geologic and environmental consulting work with colleagues as a co-founding member of Canyon Springs LLC in Chattanooga.