Monday, October 06, 2014

Matt Joeckel named Nebraska State Geologist

Robert Matt Joeckel [photo credit UNL] has been named Nebraska state geologist. He succeeds Mark Kuzila, who stepped down after 16 years of service in the position.

"(Joeckel) is an outstanding scientist with a long history of working on important issues in the state of Nebraska," said John Carroll, professor and director of UNL's School of Natural Resources. "I can think of no person who is better qualified."

The state geologist position is housed within the Conservation and Survey Division, a multidisciplinary research, service and data-collection organization in the School of Natural Resources.

"I am very appreciative of the opportunity afforded by the position," Joeckel said. "I have the opportunity to work with a great faculty and staff, and I will always feel fortunate to work for the university in my home state."

Joeckel joined the Conservation and Survey Division as a research geologist in 2000. He is curator of geology in the University of Nebraska State Museum and a fellow of the Geological Society of America. He has a doctorate in geology from the University of Iowa.

"(Joeckel) has contributed enormously to the museum as curator of geology, most recently with the new mineral exhibits he has created," said Priscilla Grew, director of the NU State Museum. "(He) will be an outstanding ambassador for our state."

Joeckel said many challenges await the Conservation and Survey Division, the greatest of which is further demonstrating the significance of a geological survey in Nebraska.

"CSD faculty and staff have valuable prior expertise in the petroleum, environmental, engineering consulting and mineral industries, as well as other experience in the public sector," Joeckel said. "All of us in CSD need to reassert the importance of earth-science data and expertise to a wide range of stakeholders within and outside of the university. A geological survey can make major contributions toward the resolution of the complex environmental and societal problems of the 21st century."

Investigating the geological framework of the High Plains Aquifer and the paleoenvironmental record within Nebraska's understudied ice age sedimentary record are among Joeckel's research priorities for his tenure as state geologist.

"Nebraska's geologic record and physical environment have and will continue to provide important data relevant to the understanding of global environmental systems, changing environments through geologic time and the evolution of life on this planet," Joeckel said. "Some of our expertise also extends well beyond Nebraska and into the national and international realm. I take some pride in that expansiveness and I expect that we will build upon our very positive reputation."

In 1871, an ad hoc geological survey was established within the University of Nebraska. Since then, nine individuals have served in the state geologist position. The Conservation and Survey Division was formally established in 1921 by state statute.

"I love geology and I love Nebraska too," Joeckel said. "It's great to practice my profession in a place in which there is still so much important research and outreach left to do."

— Mekita Rivas, Natural Resources
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