|Asish Basu has been in charge of the Department of Earth and Environmental Science for less than two months, but he already has big plans for the program.
He would like to see a major renovation of the interior of the Geosciences Building, which houses department offices, labs and classrooms and which will soon include the Center for Environmental, Forensic and Material Analysis. The Center will be part of the new Shimadzu Institute for Research Technologies at UT Arlington, a $25.2 million endeavor that will transform research capabilities and STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education throughout the UT System and Texas and made possible by a partnership with Shimadzu Scientific Instruments.
Basu is working with the UT Arlington College of Engineering to create joint programs, which could quickly become a strength given the amount of oil and gas drilling done in Texas. He also aims to launch a geochemistry program, utilizing the strong infrastructure already in place at UT Arlington, such as the new Shimadzu instrumentation facilities and the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. The main reason he left his previous job, at the University of Rochester in New York, was because of the EES department's potential and the opportunity to help build on the department's successes.
"I wanted a new challenge," Basu said. "Rochester is a very fine university, but it's small and private. I felt I had done everything I wanted to do there, and as chair had taken the department as far as I could. Now I would like the challenge of helping to build - with support from the faculty and the administration - a distinguished Earth and Environmental Sciences Department at a larger university like UT Arlington."
Basu notes the diversity of UT Arlington's student body, as well as of its faculty, as some of its strengths, and says he looks forward to meeting as many of them as possible to share ideas and listen to different viewpoints.
"My mission in professional life has been teaching and research, and it seems to me the students at UT Arlington have a passion for learning," he said. "My goal is to help make the department as successful as possible, and to make it a first-rate program, nationally and internationally."
Basu was selected as new department chair from a field of four finalists. He replaced John Wickham, who stepped down after having led the department since his arrival at UT Arlington in 1992.
"We're very pleased to have a geoscientist as distinguished and experienced as Dr. Basu leading the Department of Earth and Environmental Science," said Pamela Jansma, College of Science dean. "His knowledge and expertise will be invaluable in helping build a geochemistry program here and in attracting top faculty to do research and teach in this area. We had several very well-qualified candidates for this position, but we feel Dr. Basu will bring the best combination of experience and leadership to help continue to move the department forward.
"We want to thank John Wickham for his 20-plus years of excellent leadership as chair. The department has made tremendous gains under his guidance, and his efforts to ensure that our students receive all the teaching and hands-on training they need to be successful have been tireless. His leadership has ensured that the department is in great position to continue to move forward under Dr. Basu."
Basu applied for the position in January 2012 and came to UT Arlington to deliver a seminar lecture last February. He returned for a formal interview in March 2012 and was offered the job in May. He stayed on at Rochester
for the Fall 2012 semester to ensure a smooth transition.
Under Wickham's leadership, the department established its first doctoral program and greatly increased its number of interdisciplinary programs, working closely with various other departments both within the College of Science and throughout the University. He also spearheaded efforts designed to improve financial support for and improve diversity among geoscience students.
Basu's research interests are diverse and are primarily based on petrological, mineralogical and geochemical approaches in understanding aspects of Earth's evolution. He uses trace element, radiogenic and stable isotopes as principal tools in these studies, along with other standard laboratory and field observations.
Basu was born in Calcutta, India and earned a bachelor of science degree in Geology, Physics and Mathematics from Calcutta University in 1964. He received a master's degree in Geology from Calcutta University before moving to the United States and enrolling at the University of Chicago, where he earned an M.S. in Geophysical Science in 1969. From there he went to the University of California at Davis and earned a Ph.D. in Geology, then worked as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Minnesota from 1975-77 and as a research scientist with the U.S. Geological Survey from 1977-78.
He joined the faculty of the University of Rochester as an assistant professor in 1978, was promoted to associate professor in 1981 and to full professor in 1987. He served as department chair for over a decade.
He is a member of the American Geophysical Union and a fellow of both the Geological Society of America and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Posted March 5, 2013