Orange Alert

Syracuse to Host Regional Earth Sciences Symposium April 11

UT Dallas geoscientist John W. Geissman will deliver keynote address

April 7, 2015, by Robert M Enslin

John W. Geissman
John W. Geissman

Hundreds of people are converging at Syracuse University this weekend for its annual Central New York Earth Science Student Symposium (CNYESSS).

The daylong event takes place on Saturday, April 11, primarily in the Heroy Geology Laboratory. The symposium features research posters by graduate and undergraduate students from Syracuse, as well as Cornell University, the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry (SUNY-ESF), SUNY Oswego, Jefferson Community College, and other area institutions.

Highlights include a keynote address by John W. Geissman, professor of geosciences at The University of Texas at Dallas (UT Dallas), at 3 p.m. in the Heroy auditorium and a lava pour at 5 p.m. at the University’s Comstock Art Facility (1075 Comstock Ave.). The symposium costs $5 and is open to the public.

CNYESSS is organized and presented by the student-run Geology Club in the Department of Earth Sciences in the College of Arts and Sciences. For more information, call 315-443-2672 or email Click here for a complete schedule of events.

“This is an opportunity to showcase some of the exciting student research going on at institutions around the state,” says Donald Siegel, holder of both the Heroy and Meredith professorships and chair of the University’s Earth sciences department. “A poster provides an excellent snapshot of a student’s research, in hopes the reader will want to learn more about it. Many a collaboration have begun in front of a poster board.”

Siegel adds that the Syracuse posters reflect the research areas for which his department is internationally known: tectonics, ancient climates, and hydrology.

To that end, the University has invited Geissman, a leading figure in paleomagnetism, to headline CNYESSS. His presentation, “The Geosciences and Humanity: The 21st Century Is the Century of Our Hard Earth Science (Or Else),” doubles as Syracuse’s annual Geoffrey O. Seltzer Lecture, named for the late professor whose research focused on the Quaternary period.  

In addition to studying paleomagnetism and rock magnetism, Geissman is a staunch advocate of science literacy, as evidenced by his involvement with the Geological Society of America (GSA), of which he has served as president; the Building Strong Geoscience Departments program, sponsored by the National Science Foundation; and the journal Eos (American Geophysical Union), of which he has served as editor.

Geissman is also Professor Emeritus of Earth & Planetary Sciences at The University of New Mexico (UNM). A GSA Fellow, he earned graduate and undergraduate degrees, including a Ph.D., from the University of Michigan.

“Professor Geissman is generally credited for revitalizing paleomagnetic research at UT Dallas, following a lengthy hiatus,” says Siegel, adding that Geissman arrived there in 2010, after teaching at UNM for 17 years. “He is currently working on a variety of research projects around the world, including ones in North America, Africa, and India, which use fossil magnetism in geologic materials to better understand plate tectonics and continental drift.”

Lava flows from the specially modified furnace located at the Comstock Art Facility at Syracuse University.

CNYESSS concludes with a lava pour by Robert Wysocki and Jeff Karson, professors of art and Earth sciences, respectively, who head up the University’s Lava Project. Both of them melt basaltic lava--similar to that found on the seafloor and in volcanoes in Hawaii and Iceland—to produce natural-scale lava flows.

“A lava pour helps us understand how sub-glacial volcanoes may have behaved millions of years ago,” Siegel concludes. “It also provides insight into previous ice ages and the Earth’s climate history, in general. It’s where science meets art.”

CNYESSS is co-sponsored by the University's Graduate Student Organization, O'Brien & Gere, Parratt-Wolff, Environmental Resources Management, Groundwater & Environmental Services Inc., the United States Geological Survey, and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. 

SUNY-ESF professor Gary Scott gives a demo-lecture on paper engineering
SUNY-ESF professor Gary Scott gives a demo-lecture on paper engineering

The program also featured live Skype conversations with Tony Jimenez, founder, president, and CEO of MicroTech, a service-disabled veteran-owned business; and Lynn Pasquerella, president of Mount Holyoke College, as well as a distinguished philosopher and ethicist.

“Our goal is to encourage students to learn beyond the classroom,” Bonomo adds. “We’re helping develop the next generation of scientists and engineers--a rewarding experience, indeed."

Media Contact

Robert M Enslin