OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY

Dean recounts college progress as retirement nears

02/08/2001

CORVALLIS - After more than 40 years of scientific research and accomplishments, G. Brent Dalrymple, dean of Oregon State University's College of Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences, is retiring.

Dalrymple is retiring this February and while he plans to remain in Corvallis, his focus will shift. "I'm going to finish a book I've been writing, then I plan to spend more time with family and do a lot more woodworking, scuba diving, skiing and golfing."

For now Dalrymple, who has been at OSU for six and one-half years, has no plans to get back into research or to do consulting. He started his career in 1959. His work has included studies on the reversals of the Earth's magnetic field and plate tectonics, the origin of the Hawaiian Islands, the evolution of volcanoes and lunar geology. He has authored more than 150 scientific papers and two books, the most recent being "The Age of the Earth," published by Stanford University Press.

He earned his doctorate in geology from the University of California at Berkeley and is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He is former president of the American Geophysical Union. He also holds an undergraduate degree in geology and an honorary doctorate from Occidental College in Los Angeles.

Dalrymple said he is proud of the progress the College of Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences has made under his leadership, but he is reluctant to claim credit. "Deans don't really accomplish anything," he said. "It's the work of the faculty, students and staff that drives the college."

Among the more significant changes that have occurred, Dalrymple cites improved academic programs, better research and teaching facilities, more faculty and funding and continuing efforts in outreach services and research.

"There have been nine additions to the tenure-track faulty and the search for a 10th will begin soon," he said. "In addition, there have been 13 additions to the senior research faculty since 1994.

"Grants and contracts have grown from $18 million in the 1994-95 fiscal year to $22.5 million in 1999-2000. During the last fiscal year, the college was awarded $23.4 million in new grants, which was more than any other academic unit at OSU."

In 1999, the college received $2 million in federal funds to add to its Environmental Computing Center. The center houses seven supercomputers that allow university scientists to simultaneously analyze large quantities of data related to oceanographic and atmospheric research as well as evaluate complex computer models of oceanic and atmospheric processes.

The computing facility gives OSU the largest oceanographic research computing capability of any civilian institution in the world, providing the university the capability to supply international leadership in complex data gathering and computer modeling to analyze complex ocean processes, such as El Nino, which can have a profound impact on climate.

"The W.M. Keck Collaboratory, funded by a $1 million grant from the W.M. Keck Foundation, with additional funding from the National Science Foundation, will result in an upgraded mass spectrometry laboratory," Dalrymple said. The collaboratory will help researchers gather information about the composition of the rocks of the sea floor and of sea water from the oceans of the world.

And last summer, the college took delivery of a new OSU research vessel, the 54-foot Elakha, which was funded by a grant from the Packard Foundation to OSU zoology professors Jane Lubchenco and Bruce Menge by the OSU Research Office and by the college.

Faculty, staff and students in the college are more active in outreach efforts than ever before, Dalrymple said.

The college launched the newsletter "Streamlines" in 1995 as a way to keep in touch with friends and alumni. And there are now permanent exhibits at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry in Portland featuring college research efforts in satellite remote sensing, including ocean height, wind speed and direction.

The college also hosts a regional competition of the National Ocean Sciences Bowl, in which teams of high school students compete for local and national recognition.

"Research has been, and likely always will be, the strength of the college and the college continues to do well with more than 250 research grants active at any given time," Dalrymple said.

In addition to the many projects in place, the Ridge Interdisciplinary Global Experiments moved to the college in 1998 for a three-year term. RIDGE is a National Science Foundation initiative that promotes interdisciplinary study, scientific communication, and outreach related to all aspects of the globe-encircling, mid-ocean ridge system.

Dalrymple came to OSU in 1994, after serving as a research geologist with the U.S. Geological Survey in Menlo Park, Calif. While in California, he combined research with teaching and held a visiting professorship in earth sciences at Stanford University.