Students and Faculty in the News

January, 2014……….. Josh Vanlandingham, an undergraduate student at DGS was selected to receive the Second Place Gordon I. Atwater Award for his poster, “Unraveling Gulf Coast paleo-rainfall variability using climate proxies archived in Alabama stalagmites,” presented at the 2013 Gulf Coast Association of Geological Societies (GCAGS) Convention in New Orleans, Louisiana. This is based on undergraduate research he is conducting with Drs. Aharon and Lambert.


December, 2013……….. Dr. Samantha Hansen was among the 102 researchers receiving the Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers. This is the first time that UA scientist receives this highly prestigious award.

Dr. Hansen was acknowledged for  her  CAREER grant from the National Science Foundation. She attempts to better understand how the mountain range formed some 55 million years ago across Antarctica using the signals collected by a network of seismographs in the area.


December, 2013……….. Dr. Ernest A. Mancini, internationally renowned educator and a leading researcher in stratigraphy and petroleum geology of the Gulf of Mexico, both onshore and offshore, has been named the 2014 recipient of the Sidney Powers Memorial Award – AAPGʼs highest honor. Mancini is a distinguished research professor of petroleum geology and stratigraphy at the University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa.

Joining Mancini at the top of this yearĘĽs AAPG awardees list is past AAPG president Peter R. Rose, retired founder and president of Rose & Associates, Austin, Texas, who has been named recipient of the Michel T. Halbouty Outstanding Leadership Award.

Mancini and Rose lead the list, but they are just two of the 47 award winners who have been announced by AAPG and who will be recognized at the opening session of the 2014 AAPG Annual Convention and Exhibition, set April 6-9 in Houston. AAPG awards, approved by the Executive Committee, are presented annually to recognize individuals for service to the profession, the science, the Association and the public.

Mancini, when he receives his award in Houston, will become the 67th Powers medalist in AAPG history, first awarded in 1945 to legendary geologist Wallace E. Pratt.

The Powers Award is given annually in recognition of distinguished and outstanding contributions to, or achievements in petroleum geology.

October, 2013……….. Dr. Chunmiao Zheng, George Lindahl III Endowed Professor in Hydrogeology and Water Resources at the Department of Geological Sciences, UA was awarded the highly prestigious O.E. Meinzer Award 2013 in Hydrogeology, given by the Geological Society of America. The O.E. Meinzer Award is presented annually to the author or authors of a published paper or body of papers of distinction that advanced the science of hydrogeology or some closely related field.

The 2013 O.E. Meinzer Award is presented to Dr. Chunmiao Zheng for contributions to understanding and quantifying solute transport in groundwater. His landmark modeling code MT3DMS (Zheng, C., and P.P. Wang, 1999, Contract Report SERDP-99-1, U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center, Vicksburg, MS, 169 pp.) is a boon to researchers and has fundamentally transformed the groundwater consulting industry by providing an open-access, user-friendly platform to construct reliable transport models. Moreover, the availability of MT3DMS motivated others to develop biochemical and geochemical reaction modules (e. g. RT3D, PHT3D) that link with MTDMS to simulate complex multi-species bio/geo- chemical reactions. Furthermore, MT3DMS has been adapted as a heat transport code and is the building block for SEAWAT, a USGS supported code for simulating density-dependent transport in groundwater.

Chunmiao is also recognized for his textbook Applied Contaminant Transport Modeling, first published in 1995 and now in a 2nd edition (Zheng, C., and G.D. Bennett, 2002, John Wiley & Sons, New York, 621 pp.). This popular textbook provides comprehensive treatment of the fundamentals of transport modeling and is extremely well written, presenting material with exceptional clarity and at a level accessible to both students and experienced practitioners.


October, 2013……….. The Tuscaloosa News has approached Dr. Samantha Hansen to interview her about her awarded CAREER grant and the consequences of the last two-week government shutdown on her planned research fieldwork during the Antarctic Polar Summer 2013.

Dr. Hansen’s project has been identified as one of the top priority research activities to be re-started as the new budget is approved.

September, 2013……….. Congratulations to two of our Hydrogeology MS students, John Ellis and Nathan Coburn who won respectively the 1st place for student oral presentation,”Groundwater contribution to coastal nutrient loading along the Gulf Shores of Alabama: groundwater modeling constrained by Rn-222 tracer data“, and the 2nd place for student poster presentation, “Using electrical resistivity tomography to validate and calibrate seawater intrusion models along the Alabama Gulf coast“, competitions at the 27th Annual Alabama Water Resources Conference held 4-6 September, 2013, Perdido Beach Resort ( Good job guys!

April, 2013 – Hillary Sletten ……….. PhD student Hillary Sletten was recently awarded a Smithsonian Institute Graduate Fellowship to conduct her dissertation fieldwork in Fall 2013 in Panama at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI). During her 10-week stay, Sletten will collect coralline algae from Panama’s Pacific gulfs to test if their elemental content can be used as an indicator for ocean acidification. With the aid of Hector Guzman, staff scientist at the STRI, Sletten will setup in-situ monitoring and laboratory aquaria experiments to observe how coralline algae will respond to acidified ocean conditions. For more information about Smithsonian Institute fellowship opportunities please visit:

April 9, 2013 – Yuehan Lu ……….. One of the most recent Dr. Yuehan Lu’s publications “Lu et al., Journal of Geophysical Research-Biogeosciences, doi: doi:10.1002/jgrg.20048, 2013″ was selected by AGU journal editors to be included in AGU journal highlights and appear on EOS. The study shows that agricultural and urban organic runoff may break down slower than forest runoff, potentially contribution to an observed long-term increase in river organic compound concentrations in Europe and North America and decreasing water quality in downstream environments. (read more)

February 1, 2013 – Lance Wilson ……….. Gradaute student in Geology, wins the University of Alabama Outstanding Thesis Award for his work intitled, “The Origin and Development of the Tampa Embayment: Implications for the Tectonic Evolution of the Eastern Gulf of Mexico.”  (read more)

July 5, 2012 – Dr. Samantha Hansen………. was awarded a $715,000 CAREER Award from the National Science Foundation to study a new approach to investigating the seismic velocity structure beneath Antarctica. These awards are NSF’s most prestigious recognition of top-performing young scientists beginning their careers. (read more)