Sharon Mosher, chair of the Department of Geological Sciences in the Jackson School of Geosciences at The University of Texas at Austin since 2007, has been named dean of the Jackson School.
The selection of Mosher, who holds the William Stamps Farish Chair, culminates a national search for a new dean after Eric Barron left to become director of the National Center for Atmospheric Research in July 2008.
Professor Charles G. Groat, director of the university’s Energy and Earth Resources graduate program and Center for International Energy and Environmental Policy, was interim dean during the search.
Mosher is past president of the Geological Society of America, past chair of the Council of Scientific Society Presidents and a founder and current chair of GeoScienceWorld, an international journal aggregation for geoscientists. Among her awards and honors she is a fellow of the Geological Society of America, from which she received the Distinguished Service Award in 2003, and an honorary fellow of the Geological Society of London.
Her research involves structural petrology and field-oriented structural geology, including the evolution of modern and ancient plate boundaries and deformation of the deep to mid-crust. She has supervised numerous graduate students since coming to The University of Texas at Austin in 1978. For 15 years she directed the university’s geology summer field camp, the largest undergraduate summer field course in the country.
Mosher received her Ph.D. in Geological Sciences from the University of Illinois at Urbana in 1978 and M.Sc. from Brown University in 1975.
“I am delighted that Sharon Mosher will be the next dean of the Jackson School,” said William Powers Jr., president of The University of Texas at Austin. “Sharon was instrumental in crafting the strategic plan to make the Jackson School the preeminent geoscience program in the country, and she has been instrumental in hiring the school’s outstanding new faculty. I am confident she will lead the Jackson School to new heights.”
“As dean, my goal is to create a cohesive geoscience community that balances academic and research excellence and the broader societal mission of the geosciences,” Mosher said.
Mosher takes over at a time of growth in the school. The number of students enrolling in and graduating from the school has risen steadily since 2005. In the past year, the Jackson School has hired 15 new faculty members, an increase of nearly 50 percent to a geoscience department already one of the largest in the country. The new hires enhance capabilities in climate systems science, energy, internal earth processes, earth surface processes, hydrology and paleontology.
Researchers from the school annually work on projects with major impact on their discipline and society. Recent milestones include CT scanning Lucy, one of the world’s rarest and most famous fossils; leading the country’s largest test of carbon sequestration, a key technology for future energy plans; discovering glaciers of water ice at mid-latitudes on Mars; identifying a pattern of megadroughts in West Africa’s record of past climate; and surveying changes to the coast and seafloor at Galveston following Hurricane Ike. The school also leads GeoFORCE Texas, the country’s largest K-12 pipeline program for the earth sciences.
Alumnus John A. (Jack) Jackson endowed the school with a bequest of $241 million in 2002, the largest gift ever given to a single public university. He charged the new school to become a national leader in the earth sciences.
“I believe the Jackson School has the opportunity to make a lasting and transformative impact on the geosciences, becoming a preeminent geoscience institution and meeting the full potential envisioned by Jack Jackson,” Mosher said.
Her appointment as dean begins July 1.