The Lovell Center's annual distinguished lecture series is designed to bring to campus award-winning, nationally recognized speakers. The goal is to provide the campus community and members of the public the opportunity to hear commentary on issues of mutual interest, not only in the fields of environmental geography and hazards research, but across disciplinary boundaries.
The first distinguished lecture was delivered by Captain James Lovell during the ceremony dedicating the center in February, 1999. Captain Lovell logged more than seven million miles in space, and is probably best known as the commander of the ill-fated Apollo 13 mission. Lovell spoke of this mission in his lecture, "A Successful Failure - The Flight of Apollo 13." The audience thoroughly enjoyed hearing Lovell's perspective on the beauty and fragility of the Blue Marble in Space -- Earth as viewed from orbit around the moon. During their visit, Captain and Mrs. Lovell toured the center, signed autographs, and attended a dedication dinner in their honor.
During the 1999-2000 academic year, the second distinguished lecture featured Dr. Sally Ride, the first American woman in space. Prior to her lecture, Dr. Ride toured the center and was interviewed by local media. A physics professor at the University of California - San Diego, Ride spoke on "The View from Space." Using photographs from her two space shuttle missions, Dr. Ride showed how many environmental problems can be seen from Earth orbit, such as deforestation in the Amazon basin, air pollution and meteorological hazards. The audience included schoolchildren from San Marcos and surrounding-area schools, as well as from Austin. Following her talk, Dr. Ride signed autographs and posed for pictures with many of the audience members.
The third distinguished lecture was delivered in December 2000 by Mr. Jack Dangermond, founder and CEO of Environmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI), the world's leader in the development and application of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) software. Mr. Dangermond spoke on "Environmental Aspects of GIS," stressing the importance of geography and GIS in an increasingly interconnected world. Mr. Dangermond introduced new ideas being examined by his company and inspired the audience with his passion for the subject and his visionary plans. Prior to the public lecture, Mr. Dangermond toured the department of geography and the center, and attended a dinner in his honor hosted by Dr. Robert Gratz (vice president for Academic Affairs) and Mr. Gerald Hill (vice president for University Advancement). Captain James Lovell was also in attendance, having been unable to attend the second lecture (Dr. Sally Ride's) because he was in the Antarctic in search of Martian meteorites!
The fourth distinguished lecture was held February 12, 2002 in the Alkek Teaching Theater with Brigadier General (retired) and Apollo astronaut Charles M. Duke, Jr. as the speaker. General Duke was the Lunar Module Pilot on Apollo 16, and spent more than 70 hours on the moon's surface where his activities included installing and activating scientific equipment and experiments, collecting over 200 pounds of rock and soil samples, and evaluating the lunar rover on some of the roughest and blockiest surfaces on the moon. General Duke's lecture topic was, "The Space Age, a Technological Milestone."
The fifth distinguished lecture was delivered by Ms. Sarah Andrews on February 13, 2003 in the Alkek Teaching Theater. A forensic geologist, Ms. Andrews presented, "Putting a Price on the Blue Marble: A Valuation of Our Planet." Ms. Andrews, who has a master's degree in geology from Colorado State University, has worked for a variety of entities, including oil companies, the USGS, and as an environmental geologist. An internationally known author, her books (e.g., Tensleep, A Fall in Denver, Mother Nature, Only Flesh and Bones, Bone Hunter, and An Eye for Gold) examine the worlds of oil drilling, mining, paleontology, and earthquakes.
The sixth distinguished lecture was delivered by Mr. Mark Schultz, director of the Office of Corporate Relations, National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (formerly the National Imagery and Mapping Agency). Mr. Schultz, whose duties include congressional liaison, public affairs, and agency and customer communication, spoke on "The Power of Geospatial-Intelligence." He emphasized the importance of geography and GIS in our increasingly interconnected world to help decrypt, assess, and rapidly and appropriately respond to critical issues associated with the occurrence of natural hazards and national security problems around the world. Prior to the public lecture, Mr. Schultz toured the department of geography and the center, and conducted a lively question and answer session with students interested in current and future career opportunities in geospatial intelligence.
The seventh distinguished lecture, "Endeavours," was delivered April 26, 2005, in the Alkek Teaching Theatre by Dr. Mae Jemison. On September 12, 1992, as an astronaut aboard the space shuttle Endeavour, Dr. Jemison was the first woman of color to go into space. She initially joined NASA in 1987, conducting experiments in life sciences and material sciences, and co-investigating the Bone Cell Research experiment. After leaving NASA in 1993, Dr. Jemison started the Jemison Group, Inc., a technology design and consulting company whose projects have included solar thermal electricity generation systems for developing countries and remote areas and the use of satellite-based telecommunications to facilitate health care delivery in West Africa. Dr. Jemison has also served as a professor of environmental studies at Dartmouth College (1995-2002), where she directed the Jemison Institute for Advancing Technology in Developing Countries.
Dr. Stephen J. Pyne's presentation, "American History with Fire in Its Eye: How We Got to a World with Too Much of the Wrong Fire and Too Little of the Right," was delivered as the eighth distinguished lecture on February 1, 2006 in Flowers Hall. Author of numerous books documenting human-environment interaction within the cycle of fire, Dr. Pyne has compiled an outstanding record in teaching, scholarship and service. As a professor in the Biology and Society Program of the School of Life Sciences at Arizona State University (ASU), Dr. Pyne was selected as the AAG's 2005 Honorary Geographer for his exhaustive and geographically informed scholarship of the cultural ecology of fire and fire management.
The JMLC's ninth distinguished lecture was delivered February 27, 2007, by Mr. Marshall Frech, award-winning writer and producer of educational public service film projects. Presenting his documentary, "Water's Edge: Profits and Policy Behind the Rising Catastrophe of Floods," Mr. Frech described the experiences of central Texas residents during the major floods of 1998 and 2002, offering a well-researched critique of the systemic failures behind flooding, the nation's deadliest and most costly type of natural disaster. In addition to "Water's Edge", Mr. Frech has also produced the documentaries "Flash Flood Alley" and "Barton Springs Eternal", created award-winning interactive CD-ROM's ("Barton Springs Interactive", "Green By Design", "Flood Safety"), is currently the director of the national Flood Safety Program, and is president of Vantage Point Media in Boulder, Colorado.
The tenth distinguished lecture was delivered March 27, 2008 by Dr. Sylvia Earle, National Geographic Explorer in Residence, president of Deep Search International, chair of the Advisory Council for the Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies, and Time magazine's first "Hero of the Planet". Dr. Earle's visit was supported not only by the department of geography, but also by the University's Common Experience, the deans of liberal arts and science, the Honors Program, and the River Systems Institute. Referred to as a "Living Legend" by the Library of Congress, Dr. Earle delivered both the distinguished lecture and a talk on the LBJ Student Center Mall on behalf of Common Experience. During both lectures, the noted author discussed the idea of "sustainable seas," enthralling students, faculty and members of the public with her vision that it is critical for humanity to understand how the oceans and their inhabitants make life on land possible. Repeatedly, Dr. Earle urged her listeners (not only scientists but artists and musicians as well) to "get wet" and explore lakes, springs, rivers and seas. By doing so, she said, they can help deepen everyone's understanding and appreciation of our planet's lifeblood and its underwater inhabitants.
The eleventh distinguished lecture served as the keynote address for a workshop used to launch the International Flash Flood Laboratory (IFFL). The lecture was delivered by Dr. Eve Gruntfest, a widely published and internationally recognized expert in warning systems, flash floods, and the challenges posed when integrating social and atmospheric sciences. Gruntfest received the 2009 Kenneth E. Spengler Award from the American Meteorological Society, chairs "Societal Impacts" on the American Meteorological Society’s Board, directs Social Science Woven into Meteorology (SSWIM) at the
Mississippi, like countless other places shaped by human activity, was made from and of Earth. The livelihood of Mississippians, past and present, was tied to what they could pull from it, and from it they constructed a world turned inside out. They erected their stately plantation homes from Mississippi clay and timber, and paid for them with seed – fully-blossomed cotton seed – nurtured in the earth. In more recent times the sand, so important to sun-seekers and snow-weary Northerners, was brought up out of the sea to make the beaches. This is all to say that what existed for coastal Mississippians in 2005 was the culmination of a lot of digging, planting, erecting, and reshaping. And then it was all washed away.
The Magnolia State’s coastline appeared upside down after Katrina’s arrival, with homes resting on their roofs and sides. Like Betsy, Camille, Frederic, and countless other unnamed storms that came before it, Hurricane Katrina remade coastal Mississippi. Social and economic relationships were inverted, too. Washed away here, however, is any pretense that the impact of the storm would be even across affected communities.
This presentation focuses on the pace of recovery from Hurricane Katrina along the Mississippi coast. Pre-existing social and physical vulnerabilities may lead to different recovery outcomes, but what it means to have “recovered” is far from clear. The work presented here sets the stage for explanation of the different recovery outcomes in Mississippi from Hurricane Katrina, and ultimately works toward answering more than just questions about the way things are, but also how things ought to be.