Department of Geography and the Environment

Department of Geography and the Environment Welcomes New Chair and Faculty Members

Tue, January 21, 2014
Department of Geography and the Environment Welcomes New Chair and Faculty Members
Drs. Sheryl and Tim Beach in the Albion Quarry of Belize, surrounded by geologic material ejected from the Cretaceous-Tertiary period Chicxulub asteroid impact 65 million years ago.

The College of Liberal Arts recently announced the appointment of two new faculty members in the Department of Geography and the Environment.

Dr. Sheryl Luzzadder-Beach has been named as Professor and the Chair of the Department of Geography and the Environment, and Fellow of the C. B. Smith, Sr. Centennial Chair in United States-Mexico Relations #2, effective January 16, 2014, and Dr. Timothy Beach will join the department as a Professor and the C.B. Smith, Sr. Centennial Chair in United States-Mexico Relations #2 in August. Both will be teaching in Fall 2014.

Dr. Sheryl Luzzadder-Beach joins us from George Mason University where she was Professor and Acting Chair of Geography and Geoinformation Science, and also served as Associate Chair and Director of Academic Programs for the GGS Department since 2008. Prior to that she served as Mason's Associate Provost for General Education from 2000-2003. Luzzadder-Beach received her B.A. in Geography from California State University-Chico, and an M.A. in Geography from the University of Minnesota-Minneapolis. She received her Ph.D. in Geography from the University of Minnesota-Minneapolis with a specialty in Water Resources, Physical Geography, and Spatial Analysis. A Professor with George Mason University since 1993, she has also taught at the University of Georgia, Humboldt State University, and the University of Minnesota. She was honored with the 2010 Grove Karl Gilbert Award for Excellence in Geomorphological Research from the Association of American Geographers, and received the 2012 College of Science Publication Excellence Award at George Mason University.

I am honored to have been selected to lead such a vibrant and diverse department, and am excited to teach outstanding students alongside dedicated professionals and exceptional teachers. I also look forward to collaborating on research with stellar colleagues in Geography, Anthropology, CLA, and other units at UT Austin. Together we will bring the Department of Geography and the Environment to the top of the field. I especially thank Dr. Brian Roberts for his leadership of the Department before I joined,” said Dr. Luzzadder-Beach.

In her primary field, Geoarchaeology, Dr. Luzzadder-Beach has focused her recent research on the Ancient Maya in Belize, Guatemala, and Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula, and also Human-Environment Interactions in Turkey, and paleofloods in Iceland. She is also active in science and human rights education. She is author or co-author of more than 40 peer reviewed articles, book chapters and monographs published in Geography, Archaeology, and Geology outlets, and has been PI or co PI on multiple grants from NSF, NASA, and National Geographic. She is PI or co PI on the following active NSF-funded projects:

  • Ancient Maya Land and Water Use in Central America:
    • 2009-2014. "Collaborative Research: Perennial Wetland Formation and Human Adaptation in NW Belize.” PIs: Sheryl Luzzadder-Beach (GMU), and Tim Beach (Georgetown University). National Science Foundation- BCS-Geography and Geospatial Sciences. Award #0924501 and 0924510.
    • 2011-2014. Co-PI. "The Collapse of the Ancient Maya: Multi-Disciplinary Research on Society and the Environment." PI: Nicholas Brokaw, Univ. of Puerto Rico. National Science Foundation- GEO- Dynamic Coupled Natural-Human Systems. Award #1114947.
    • 2011-2014. PI. "Collaborative Research: Uci-Cansahcab Regional Integration Project.” Collaborative with University of Kentucky and BYU. National Science Foundation- BCS- Archaeology. Award #1063691.

A committed educator as well as scholar, Dr. Luzzadder-Beach has developed academic courses on Environmental Hydrology, Geoarchaeology, The History of Earth Systems Science, the Dynamic Atmosphere/Hydrosphere, and the Dynamic Geosphere/Ecosphere. In 2000-2003, as Associate Provost she led the faculty in developing George Mason University’s new General Education Program, which remains in place today.

 Dr.  Timothy Beach comes to us from his position as Cinco Hermanos Chair in Environment and International Affairs and is Professor of Geography and Geoscience at Georgetown University, and will join the UT Faculty in Fall 2014.  During his twenty-one year tenure at Georgetown, Beach is and was the Director of Georgetown's Science, Technology, and International Affairs (STIA) Program in the School of Foreign Service and has also been the Director of Georgetown’s Center for the Environment. He received his Ph.D. in Geography/Geomorphology from the University of Minnesota with a specialization in Soils, Quaternary geoscience, and research on accelerated soil erosion and sedimentation in Southern Minnesota. His MA in Geography is from the University of Minnesota, and his BA in Geography is from California State University-Chico.

Dr. Timothy Beach’s research deals with human impacts on geomorphology, soils, ecology, and hydrology with a particular focus on Geoarchaeology in Central America and Turkey; and paleofloods in Iceland. He has been PI and co PI on multiple NSF and NGS grants. Dr. Beach was elected as a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and awarded Guggenheim and Dumbarton Oaks Fellowships, awarded the 2010 Grove Karl Gilbert Award in Geomorphology, received Georgetown University’s only Distinguished Faculty Research Award in 2010, and appointed Honorary Professor of Australian Catholic University in 2013. He has taught and developed twenty- three different courses including soils, climate, ecological restoration, geoarchaeology, geomorphology, environmental science, and water resources, and taken hundreds of students on research travels to six countries. 

Please join us in welcoming Dr. Sheryl Luzzadder-Beach as Department Chair and Professor, and Dr. Timothy Beach as Professor, to the Department of Geography and the Environment in 2014.

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