KU News: Scholars say it’s time to declare a new epoch on the moon, the ‘Lunar Anthropocene’

Today's News from the University of Kansas

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From the Office of Public Affairs | http://www.news.ku.edu

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Mary Rezac named new dean of KU School of Engineering

LAWRENCE — The University of Kansas has selected Mary Rezac as the next dean of the KU School of Engineering. Rezac currently serves as the dean of Washington State University’s Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture. She previously worked at Kansas State University for 15 years. Rezac’s appointment as dean is effective March 1, 2024.

KU alumni honor the legacy of longtime KU Libraries administrator

LAWRENCE — More than 35 years after working at Watson Library at the University of Kansas, Cliff Haka returned to the stacks with his wife, Sue Haka, to honor someone who made a big impact on his life: the late James Ranz, who served as dean of KU Libraries from 1975 to 1990. The couple’s gift provided for the naming of the Dean James Ranz Administrative Suite and was given to show their appreciation of the education and mentoring received at KU.

Full stories below.

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Contact: Savannah Rattanavong, Office of the Provost, 785-864-6402, [email protected], @KUProvost

Mary Rezac named new dean of KU School of Engineering

LAWRENCE — The University of Kansas has selected Mary Rezac as the next dean of the KU School of Engineering. Rezac currently serves as the dean of Washington State University’s Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture. Her appointment as dean is effective March 1, 2024.

“With her record of excellence in education and research and her commitment to growth and innovation, Mary will be a strong leader and valuable asset in advancing the success of the School of Engineering,” said Barbara A. Bichelmeyer, provost and executive vice chancellor. “I am excited to see how she will assist KU in accelerating research and discovery while ensuring we remain an exceptional learning community.”

The School of Engineering’s mission is to give students a quality educational experience; generate and apply knowledge through research, development and scholarly activity; and serve society, the state and the engineering profession.

“KU’s School of Engineering has a strong history of completing research that advances society while simultaneously serving to train the next generation of researchers,” Rezac said. “I look forward to working collaboratively with faculty, staff, students and external industrial and governmental partners to craft a strategic plan for the school. Together we will build upon the school’s historic strengths and identify research focus areas that promote KU’s mission of lifting students and society by educating leaders, building healthy communities and making discoveries that change the world.”

Rezac said she also looks forward to meeting with the school’s constituents early in her tenure, learning about the school’s strengths and ways she can support its various components.

As dean of Washington State’s Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture, Rezac oversees seven academic schools and multiple research centers, as well as the college’s more than $80 million budget. In this role, Rezac has managed the expansion of faculty research productivity, establishment of multiple new undergraduate programs and implementation of programming focused on retention and diversity of undergraduate students. Rezac has also led corporate and government relations on behalf of the college, resulting in the college receiving millions in funding, and she developed strategies to fund a 10-year, $350 million capital building project.

Rezac previously worked at Kansas State University for 15 years in multiple positions, including interim associate vice president of research, co-director of the Center for Sustainable Energy and head of the Department of Chemical Engineering. She also was a faculty member of Georgia Institute of Technology’s School of Chemical Engineering.

Rezac has served on numerous policymaking groups, including the Council for Chemical Research, the American Institute of Chemical Engineers and the National Research Council. She holds multiple patents and has co-written more than 250 publications and presentations.

Rezac earned a doctorate and master’s degree in chemical engineering from the University of Texas at Austin and a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from Kansas State.

The School of Engineering dean, acting as the chief academic and administrative officer, is responsible for providing imaginative, dynamic and transformational leadership to ensure the school’s long-term success. This includes securing partnerships to advance the school’s mission; ensuring the school attracts and retains talented students, faculty and staff; overseeing the school’s approximately $34 million budget and more.

Rezac will be instrumental in KU’s Ever Onward capital campaign, which will focus on securing support for engineering undergraduate and graduate students, as well as faculty researchers.

“I am excited and honored to be invited to serve as dean of KU’s School of Engineering,” Rezac said. “As a first-generation college graduate, I appreciate that a degree in engineering can change the trajectory of a graduate.

“I have dedicated my career to ensuring that students succeed through the appropriate design of degree programs, training faculty on the best pedagogy and providing extracurricular support via learning centers, peer mentoring and career services. I look forward to working with the school’s faculty and staff members to identify any unmet student needs and to implement programs to address them.”

The KU School of Engineering, an ABET-accredited public engineering school, was founded in 1891 and is the oldest engineering school in the state. Today it emphasizes interdisciplinary research, encouraging engineers and computer scientists from different disciplines to work together to provide innovative solutions to challenges around the world.

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The official university Twitter account has changed to @UnivOfKansas.

Refollow @KUNews for KU News Service stories, discoveries and experts.

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Contact: Michelle Keller, KU Endowment, 785-832-7336, [email protected], @KUEndowment; Christy McWard, KU Libraries, 785-864-0092, [email protected], @kulibraries

KU alumni honor the legacy of longtime KU Libraries administrator

LAWRENCE — More than 35 years after working at Watson Library at the University of Kansas, Cliff Haka returned to the stacks with his wife, Sue Haka, to honor someone who made a big impact on his life: the late James Ranz, who served as dean of KU Libraries from 1975 to 1990. The Hakas’ gift provided for the naming of the Dean James Ranz Administrative Suite and was given to show their appreciation of the education and mentoring received at KU.

“We really felt we owed a significant debt to KU,” Cliff Haka said. “Sue had never considered a career in academia, and I had never considered a career in library administration until we came to school here. Both of us came to head down those paths based on what happened here at KU.”

For Sue Haka, it was an encounter with a KU professor, Larry Gordon, who encouraged her to pursue a doctorate, resulting in a successful university career in accounting that would see her being named a Distinguished Professor of Accounting and elected as the president of the American Accounting Association.

For Cliff Haka, the mentoring he received from Ranz enabled him to successfully lead Michigan State University Libraries for more than 20 years.

“I was much better prepared to be the director of Libraries at Michigan State University from what I learned from Jim,” Cliff Haka said. “And I don’t think it’s a stretch at all to say that I didn’t do anything of substance or make any substantial decision that wasn’t in some way guided by what he taught me.”

To some, it might seem strange that the Hakas would give to KU after long careers at another university, but both believe their lives were better for having studied here.

“In retirement, you have a chance to reflect and for Sue and me, we recognized we owed a great debt to KU,” Cliff Haka said. “I like to think that both of us would have been reasonably successful, wherever we happened to be, but KU put us on a trajectory where we lived in a great university environment, where we had some very enriching careers, and we really loved what we did and we were well rewarded for it. Without KU and our chance meeting and the mentorships with Dr. Gordon and Dr. Ranz, I don’t think we would have been as successful as we were.”

“We are grateful that Cliff and Sue kept KU Libraries in their hearts long after they moved on to great career endeavors and achievements,” said Carol Smith dean of KU Libraries. “Any year would be a special time to remember Jim Ranz and honor the Haka’s gift, but this year – just before our beloved Watson Library turns 100 – seems especially fitting and truly the start of what will be a tremendous centennial celebration in September 2024.”

The Dean James A. Ranz Administrative Suite was officially dedicated Nov. 2. The space houses Smith and much of the KU Libraries leadership team. The plaque outside the main entrance features a picture of Ranz and the following inscription:

Dr. James Ranz

Dean of Libraries, 1975-1990

Dean Jim Ranz was a keen developer of people and of places, a transformational leader who laid the cornerstones of what our community enjoys and experiences at KU Libraries today. With a sharp focus on library facilities, Ranz led space renovations and location consolidations. Under his leadership, Anschutz Library was constructed and Watson Library was modernized.

In addition to the progress he ushered in among KU Libraries locations, Ranz understood the power and potential of the people who worked for KU Libraries. He encouraged his colleagues’ growth and mentored their professional development. He fostered their futures as librarians, leaders, and deans. Jim Ranz’s contributions stretch beyond his 15 years as dean, impacting generations of Jayhawks – those who work and study at the University of Kansas Libraries.

A gift from Sue and Cliff Haka supported the naming of the Dean James Ranz Administrative Suite, in appreciation of the education received at KU, which enabled Sue to become a Distinguished Professor of Accounting and the President of the American Accounting Association, and the mentoring from Dean Ranz that enabled Cliff to successfully lead Michigan State University Libraries for more than 20 years.

About KU Endowment

KU Endowment is the independent, nonprofit organization serving as the official fundraising and fund-management organization for KU. Founded in 1891, KU Endowment was the first foundation of its kind at a U.S. public university.

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KU News Service

1450 Jayhawk Blvd.

Lawrence KS 66045

Phone: 785-864-3256

Fax: 785-864-3339

[email protected]

http://www.news.ku.edu

Erinn Barcomb-Peterson, director of news and media relations, [email protected]

Today’s News is a free service from the Office of Public Affairs

Today’s News from the University of Kansas

From the Office of Public Affairs | http://www.news.ku.edu

Headlines

Contact: Brendan Lynch, KU News Service, 785-864-8855, [email protected], @BrendanMLynch

Scholars say it’s time to declare a new epoch on the moon, the ‘Lunar Anthropocene’

LAWRENCE — Human beings first disturbed moon dust on Sept. 13, 1959, when the USSR’s unmanned spacecraft Luna 2 alighted on the lunar surface. In the following decades, more than a hundred other spacecraft have touched the moon — both crewed and uncrewed, sometimes landing and sometimes crashing. The most famous of these were NASA’s Apollo Lunar Modules, which transported humans to the moon’s surface to the astonishment of humankind.

In the coming years, missions and projects already planned will change the face of the moon in more extreme ways. Now, according to anthropologists and geologists at the University of Kansas, it’s time to acknowledge humans have become the dominant force shaping the moon’s environment by declaring a new geological epoch for the moon: the Lunar Anthropocene.

In a comment published today in Nature Geoscience, they argue the new epoch may have dawned in 1959, thanks to Luna 2.

“The idea is much the same as the discussion of the Anthropocene on Earth — the exploration of how much humans have impacted our planet,” said lead author Justin Holcomb, a postdoctoral researcher with the Kansas Geological Survey at KU. “The consensus is on Earth the Anthropocene began at some point in the past, whether hundreds of thousands of years ago or in the 1950s. Similarly, on the moon, we argue the Lunar Anthropocene already has commenced, but we want to prevent massive damage or a delay of its recognition until we can measure a significant lunar halo caused by human activities, which would be too late.”

Holcomb collaborated on the paper with co-authors Rolfe Mandel, University Distinguished Professor of Anthropology and senior scientist with KGS, and Karl Wegmann, associate professor of marine, earth and atmospheric sciences at North Carolina State University.

Holcomb said he hopes the Lunar Anthropocene concept might help dispel the myth that the moon is an unchanging environment, barely impacted by humanity.

“Cultural processes are starting to outstrip the natural background of geological processes on the moon,” Holcomb said. “These processes involve moving sediments, which we refer to as ‘regolith,’ on the moon. Typically, these processes include meteoroid impacts and mass movement events, among others. However, when we consider the impact of rovers, landers and human movement, they significantly disturb the regolith. In the context of the new space race, the lunar landscape will be entirely different in 50 years. Multiple countries will be present, leading to numerous challenges. Our goal is to dispel the lunar-static myth and emphasize the importance of our impact, not only in the past but ongoing and in the future. We aim to initiate discussions about our impact on the lunar surface before it’s too late.”

While many outdoors enthusiasts are familiar with “Leave No Trace” principles, they don’t seem to exist on the moon. According to the authors, refuse from human missions to the moon includes “discarded and abandoned spacecraft components, bags of human excreta, scientific equipment, and other objects (e.g., flags, golf balls, photographs, religious texts).”

“We know that while the Moon does not have an atmosphere or magnetosphere, it does have a delicate exosphere composed of dust and gas, as well as ice inside permanently shadowed areas, and both are susceptible to exhaust gas propagation,” the authors wrote. “Future missions must consider mitigating deleterious effects on lunar environments.”

While Holcomb and his colleagues want to use the Lunar Anthropocene to highlight the potential for humanity’s potential negative environmental impact to the moon, they also hope to call attention to the vulnerability of lunar sites with historical and anthropological value, which currently have no legal or policy protections against disturbance.

“A recurring theme in our work is the significance of lunar material and footprints on the moon as valuable resources, akin to an archaeological record that we’re committed to preserving,” Holcomb said. “The concept of a Lunar Anthropocene aims to raise awareness and contemplation regarding our impact on the lunar surface, as well as our influence on the preservation of historical artifacts.”

The KU researcher said this field of “space heritage” would aim to preserve or catalog items such as rovers, flags, golf balls and footprints on the moon’s surface.

“As archaeologists, we perceive footprints on the moon as an extension of humanity’s journey out of Africa, a pivotal milestone in our species’ existence,” Holcomb said. “These imprints are intertwined with the overarching narrative of evolution. It’s within this framework we seek to capture the interest of not only planetary scientists but also archaeologists and anthropologists who may not typically engage in discussions about planetary science.”

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KU News Service

1450 Jayhawk Blvd.

Lawrence KS 66045

Phone: 785-864-3256

Fax: 785-864-3339

[email protected]

http://www.news.ku.edu

Erinn Barcomb-Peterson, director of news and media relations, [email protected]

Today’s News is a free service from the Office of Public Affairs

 

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