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Ad ance Research, Scholarship and Creative Achievement at Texas A&M University


THE BIG MELT Texas A&M Researchers Tackle Global Warming


Texas A&M Former Student Randal Ford traversed the state to photograph the old Texas churches accompanying the feature “Can they be Saved?” on page 18. Randal has a blue-collar work ethic and an eye for capturing the extraordinary moment on film. It is precisely the ordinary that Randal passionately pursues, seeking to glorify it and imbue classical ideas and values with a modern aesthetic. This ethos has carried him from his early work as staff shooter at Texas A&M’s Battalion, to the covers of Texas Monthly, and ultimately the coffee tables of America with his work on the Amazing Faith of Texas book by Roy Spence. Our thanks to Roy and GSD&M for allowing us to publish these amazing images. His most recent work includes a reinterpretation of Norman Rockwell’s paintings via a group of highly stylized images. Randal’s work has been highlighted in Communication Arts, Range Finder, Digital Photo Pro, and a host of other industry publications. Randal and his wife Lauren and their dog Chopper live in Austin, Texas. To learn more about Randal and see more of his work visit

Jack Unruh Legendary Texas illustrator Jack Unruh was influenced by a book of ancient Chinese art for his depiction of George H.W. Bush featured on page 31. A native of Pretty Prairie, Kansas, and the son of an Air Force pilot, Jack lived in a variety of places while growing up. After graduating from Washington University in St. Louis, he settled and began his illustration career in Dallas. Much of his work parallels an interest in the outdoors, while some of the more conceptual illustrations are a result of waiting for the hatch or watching the sunset over West Texas quail country. The results have been published in Entertainment Weekly, Rolling Stone, Atlantic Monthly, Time, Sports Illustrated, Readers Digest, New York Magazine, National Geographic, Sports Afield, Field and Stream, GQ , Road and Track and Texas Monthly. Unruh has appeared in Communication Arts Illustration Annual since its inception and has been in numerous shows of American Illustration, Graphis, AIGA and Print. Graphis featured an article, “Jack Unruh, Quick on the Draw.” in the 2002 September/October issue.

DJ Stout As the former art director of Texas Monthly and now as a partner in the international graphic design firm Pentagram Design, DJ has designed and redesigned a wide variety of magazines on subjects as diverse as lawyers and dairy cows. He preferred the dairy cows. DJ and his team worked closely with the Advance magazine staff over the last six months to completely rework the issue you are holding in your hands now. DJ Stout is a fifth generation Texan born in the small West Texas town of Alpine. He received his degree in design communication from Texas Tech University in Lubbock, where he was honored as a distinguished alumnus. Stout joined Pentagram’s Austin office as a partner in 2000. In 1998 American Photo magazine named him one of its “100 Most Important People in Photography,” and in 2004, I.D. (International Design) magazine selected Stout for “The I.D. Fifty,” its annual listing of design innovators. He currently serves on the board of directors of the Austin chapter of the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA).

Interim Vice President for Research and Executive Associate Vice President for Research

Theresa A. Maldonado

Senior Associate Vice President for Research

Carol Cantrell

Associate Vice President for Research

Marvin L. Adams

Associate Vice President for Research

Fuller W. Bazer

Assistant Vice President for Research and Chief of Staff

Julie K. Barker

Ad ance 2008 EDITION

Research, Scholarship and Creative Achievement at Texas A&M University


Randal Ford



Assistant Vice President for Research

Gregory L. Foxworth

Assistant Vice President for Research

Charlene Miller

Assistant Vice President for Research and Business Administration

Annette L. Shenkir

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Interim Dean of Graduate Studies and Associate Dean of Undergraduate Research

Robert C. Webb

A D VA N C E M A G A Z I N E S TA F F Executive Editor

Tiffany Inbody Editor

Susan Wolff

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Jean Wulfson Editorial Assistant

Gabe Waggoner

Advance’s purpose is to inform readers of the research, discovery and scholarly activity by the faculty, staff and students of Texas A&M and those agencies of The Texas A&M University System located on the College Station campus. For details about projects reported in this issue, contact the editor or the researchers directly.

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To Have and To Hold On To By Chrystal Houston


The Body Buoyant

The deeper meaning in your choice to keep it or toss it.

By Tanya Nading and John Holder Working out in the water shows great benefits for health.


Which Chicken is Stricken?


The Big Melt By Kara Bounds Socol

By Rusty Cawley Genetic marker vaccine could provide answers during an outbreak of avian influenza — and save the poultry industry millions of dollars.

A&M researchers tackle global warming.

Political reconciliation—a difficult and controversial challenge.

16 Opossumbilities

By Angela Clendenin Getting to know the Opossum.

18 Can They Be Saved? By Keith Randall

Opinions expressed in Advance are those of the author, executive editor or editor and do not necessarily represent the opinions of the Texas A&M administration or The Texas A&M University System Board of Regents.

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Many historic churches in Texas are slowly crumbling apart and their chances of survival don’t have a prayer.

24 Big Bang Blunder By Shana Hutchins

Advance magazine staff members and contributors are members of the Council for Advancement and Support of Education, the International Association of Business Communicators, the National Association of Science Writers, the Public Relations Society of America, the University and College Designers Association and the University Research Magazine Association. Texas A&M University is a member of The Texas A&M University System.

Good news for retailers is bad news for shoppers: Consumers’ lack of math skills impacts buying habits.

14 Making Up is Hard to Do By Leanne South

Admission to Texas A&M or any of its programs are open to qualified individuals regardless of race, color, religion, sex, age, national origin or educationally unrelated handicaps.

MEDIA REPRESENTATIVES: Permission is granted to use part or all of any article published here. Appropriate credit and a tearsheet are requested. Correspondence regarding editorial content should be sent to: Editor, Advance.

Advance is published by the Texas A&M University Division of Research and Graduate Studies. This issue was published in October 2008.

Shopper Math By Chrystal Houston

Astronomers take a new look at Einstein’s cosmological constant.

28 Shrimp of Darkness Page 30

By Keith Randall Uncovering secrets of vast underwater caves.

30 Book Reviews

I hope that you will explore this issue of Advance with a sense of curiosity, discovery and perhaps even wonder. That is, after all, what research is all about. Research has always been one of my great passions. As some of you know, I began my career as a microbiologist, working in a research lab. There is nothing more exhilarating than working and collaborating on a project that has the potential to cure disease, feed millions or save lives. As a member of the American Association of Universities, Texas A&M University is one of only 65 Tier 1 “elite research institutions” across the United States and Canada. In fact, the Washington Monthly ranks Texas A&M first in the nation for “tangible contributions to the public interest.” And I am delighted to report that research is growing by leaps and bounds at Texas A&M. In keeping with our roadmap for the future, Vision 2020, we dedicated ourselves to enhancing our faculty as well as our undergraduate and graduate experience. Enhancing our faculty has brought nearly 450 new faculty members to Aggieland, many of whom are contributing to the quality of the research now being performed at this great university. This initiative has also brought us prize-winning scholars and researchers of national and international repute, which in turn will continue to attract many of the highest-caliber undergraduate and graduate students. Together, they are working on unlocking previously unsolved mysteries and sharing the results with those who will benefit most: Texas, the nation and the world. With over $540 million in annual research expenditures, we are well on our way toward advancing knowledge on an amazing variety of critical issues. In fact, the research efforts at Texas A&M are focused on solving some of our world’s toughest scientific and technological challenges: cancer-fighting foods, bioenergy, global climate change and therapeutic medicines, to name only a few. We believe that the future of research will depend greatly on the work of multidisciplinary teams — as well as multi-institutional and multinational teams — bringing their expertise to the classrooms, labs and conference rooms and collaborating to make breakthrough discoveries. It is an exciting time for research at Texas A&M. As you will discover in these pages, what we are working on today will change the world we live in tomorrow. Dr. Elsa A. Murano President of Texas A&M University

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2+2=22 Good news for retailers is bad news for shoppers: Consumers’ lack of math skills impacts buying habits. By CHRYSTAL HOUSTON At your favorite store, you see two reducedprice items. One price tag says, “Now 40% off !” whereas the other shouts, “Take an extra 25% off the already 20% reduced sale price!” Which item will you reach for? According to Allan Chen, assistant professor of marketing and Mays Research Fellow at Mays Business School, most American shoppers will go for the double-discounted item, even though if you run the numbers, the discounts are identical. Consumers do not always realize when they are being tricked by numbers, but you can be sure that retailers do. “A lot of retailers are using this strategy. They are taking advantage of the consumers’ general lack of ability or motivation to process numerical information,” says Chen. Chen, who came from China, first experienced this markdown quagmire years ago on a shopping trip in the United States. He was at a department store when he noticed that sale prices were advertised differently here than in his home country. In the United States, the sale ad will read “35% off,” whereas a Chinese ad will state the more straightforward opposite: “You pay 65%.” Chen purchased an item that was 50 percent off, with an additional 10 percent discount — assuming that the item was 60 percent off. However, after paying for the item, he realized his error: 50 percent plus 10 percent of the markdown price is equivalent to a 55 percent discount, not 60 percent. “I figured that if I made that mistake, a lot of other people would, too,” he says. “I predicted that most people couldn’t or wouldn’t do the right calculations in their heads.” He began researching consumers’ computational errors in

In a survey, most undergraduate students —even when provided with a calculator and a monetary incentive—  could not add the double discount to find the actual sale price.

The deeper meaning in your choice to keep it or toss it. By CHRYSTAL HOUSTON While shopping at her favorite discount chain superstore, Sarah Somebody finds a great bargain — the price of lip gloss in a clearance bin is marked down to just a fraction of its original. She excitedly purchases five tubes, figuring that she’ll use them eventually. She also buys her groceries and household items in bulk, because it’s a better value in the long run. After paying, she stows the lip gloss in her capacious handbag, already overflowing with things Sarah wouldn’t think of leaving the house without — including several other tubes of lip gloss. Does Sarah remind you of anyone? She represents a certain consumer disposition that Kelly Haws, assistant professor of marketing at Mays Business School, refers to as a “pack rat.” Haws’ research centers around how consumer habits differ based on the tendency to retain or dispose of possessions. Haws and fellow researchers have developed four simple questions to determine where an individual falls on the pack rat– purger continuum. She’s surveyed hundreds of consumers and has discovered that the ILLUSTRATION BY SERGE BLOCH

desire to keep or toss possessions enormously affected consumption, with ripples that extend to marketing. Her findings suggest that pack rats are more likely to buy a discounted item, regardless of need. They also tend buy in bulk, even if there is no discount involved with buying a

larger quantity. This is good news for marketers, who are happy to package items in bulk knowing that a set of consumers is likely to purchase more that way. Alternately, purgers tend to buy only what they really want or need, regardless of cost. They may spend more per item than pack rats,

but purgers typically buy less. These tendencies also have an ecological effect, Haws and her team are now discovering. When purgers are finished using an item, they are more likely to throw it away or recycle it, whereas pack rats tend to keep an item after using it until

a new use or home can be found. So although pack rats may have more clutter, they are actually more frugal in their use of products and more creative in how they reuse their belongings. Haws’ research all points back to a basic principle: How psychologically attached people are to their belongings affects how they acquire new belongings as well as what they do with those they already have. Haws says that pack rats (like Sarah Somebody) derive a sense of security and comfort from their belongings and therefore tend to hold on to them longer, buy more of them, and carry more with them at any given time.   Pack rats also tend to identify themselves in relation to their purchases. Haws says that marketers are aware of that personal identity link and use it in sales of everything from cars to coffee. This approach affects advertising, as marketers play up the angle of “your choice, your life, your product.” Haws and colleagues are also studying which styles of advertising and store layout are most attractive to pack rats and purgers.

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“sequential percentages,” when one percentage change is based on the preceding percentages. He surveyed undergraduates and found that his theory was correct: Even when provided with a calculator and a monetary incentive for a correct answer, most students could not add the double discount to find the actual sale price. Chen tested this theory in a retail setting in a small kitchen appliance store. For four weeks, they advertised a line of bamboo cutting boards with a double discount, and then the promotion changed to one equivalent discount for another four weeks. The discounted prices were the same, but the difference in their effect was dramatic: The store sold roughly 50 percent more cutting boards when it featured the double discount. A worrisome element to this research is that Chen sees this problem in other areas of business, such as daily stock market fluctuations reported in sequential percentages. He commented on the real-world example of a standardized test score report in California in the 1990s: A 60 percent decrease in the scores followed by a 70 percent increase (resulting in a net decrease of 32 percent) was reported as good news by journalists who didn’t understand the math. Chen’s concern is that consumers and investors might make decisions that are based on information that they don’t fully comprehend. Chen says that this problem may be related to math anxiety and a decline in “numeracy” (literacy of numbers), which he speculates may lead consumers to skim over these kinds of math problems in everyday life. His current research investigates the causes of innumeracy and its effects on many areas of consumer behaviors in marketing and financial settings.

To Have and To Hold On To


The Body


Working out in the water shows great benefits for health. By TANYA NADING and JOHN HOLDER

This study showed a trend for those exercising in water to gain more muscle mass than those who exercised on land.


land. Another important difference, says Crouse, is that many people feel less exercise-related pain and soreness when they train in the water. In fact, for Carolyn Lohman, a study participant and founder of the Lohman Learning Communities in the College of Education and Human Development, being less sore was the best part of the study. “My knees and hips did not hurt when doing water exercise, nor afterward either,” says Lohman. “I was doing many more miles each session than I could possibly do on land, and at a faster rate, too.” The second phase of this study, which began in 2007, is focusing on postmenopausal women and is examining muscle cell and protein changes after single bouts of exercise. This phase includes the work of several individuals within the Department of Health and Kinesiology, including Greene, Crouse, and Assistant Professors James Fluckey of the Muscle Biology Laboratory and Steven Riechman of the Human Countermeasures Laboratory. Fluckey and Riechman began their portion of the study by taking muscle biopsy samples from the participants. With these samples, they will look for the molecular changes occurring after exercise. “The Department of Health and Kinesiology is really well known among other schools for the excellence of their research and the quality of the graduates,” Lohman says. “With the aging population in this country, it seems to me that better health can be achieved through advances in this kind of research.”

Imagine a farmer who owns two chickens. He knows that one is infected with deadly bird flu, avian influenza H5N1, and that the other is vaccinated against the same disease. But he doesn’t know which is which. How does the farmer tell them apart? He can’t. This dilemma is one that U.S. poultry producers may face one day if avian influenza H5N1 comes to American shores. If you can’t tell the difference between infected and vaccinated chickens during an outbreak, you have to slaughter them all. And you have to take the hit on your bottom line. But the National Center for Foreign Animal and Zoonotic Disease Defense (the FAZD Center), which is headquartered at Texas

A&M University, is working on the problem. Founded in 2004 as a Department of Homeland Security Center of Excellence, the FAZD Center develops products to defend against the invasion of foreign animal diseases that could threaten public health or the national economy. This category includes avian influenza H5N1, which not only kills birds but (because it is a zoonotic disease) may also infect humans who come in contact with diseased birds. “The poultry industry is among the nation’s largest sources of protein,” FAZD Center Director Neville P. Clarke said. “At any one time, there are more than 8.8 million chickens in commercial production, according to the US Department

of Agriculture Census. “If we can accurately identify vaccinated chickens, we can significantly reduce the potential damage to the industry from an outbreak of avian influenza,” he said. “We can reduce unnecessary slaughter, ease trade restrictions and lessen the environmental challenges of wholesale slaughter and disposal. We can also more substantially protect the industry’s workforce from infection.” FAZD Center principal investigators Sanjay Reddy and Blanca Lupiani are developing an avian flu vaccine with a genetic marker and a test to detect that marker in birds that receive the vaccine. Both investigators belong to the faculty of the veterinary pathobiology and poultry science depart-

ments at Texas A&M. Their work applies the DIVA strategy, which has proven successful in other areas of animal health. DIVA stands for “differentiating infected from vaccinated animals.” According to the strategy, if you engineer a genetic marker in a vaccine, you should be able to create a test that identifies the marker. With this test, poultry producers and government regulators may accurately separate vaccinated chickens from infected chickens. And doing so could save millions of dollars in unnecessary slaughter of healthy poultry. The trick is to engineer a genetic marker in the vaccine without diminishing the vaccine’s power to protect the chicken from the disease.

Reddy and Lupiani are focusing on the NS1 mutant virus as a potential answer. After more than two years of research, their data suggest that the NS1 mutant virus will provide accurate identification without weakening the vaccine. The FAZD Center is also working on a DIVA vaccine for Rift Valley fever, another highly contagious and economically devastating animal disease that is now exotic to the United States. Found in sub-Saharan Africa, Rift Valley fever causes death and abortion in livestock and severe flulike symptoms in humans. Both DIVA vaccines will undergo laboratory testing in 2008–2009.

Which Chicken is

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By studying the intricacies of human movement, exercise physiologists have made important contributions to our basic understanding of how the human body operates. Texas A&M University’s Department of Health and Kinesiology exercise physiologists are contributing to the growing wealth of knowledge on this subject, to the benefit of the general public as well as the scientific community. Faculty and students in the department are conducting research in hopes of discovering exciting information about how human bodies — big and tall, short and small — adapt and change with exercise. One important collaborative research effort in this area is led by Nicholas Greene, a doctoral student, and Stephen Crouse, professor and director of the Sydney and J.L. Huffines Institute for Sports Medicine and Human Performance. The first part of their study, conducted in 2006 and funded by HydroWorks International, explored the benefits of water exercise. In this first phase of the study, Greene and Crouse examined the changes in physical fitness and the body’s makeup by comparing underwater versus land-based treadmill walking. They found no significant difference in weight or body fat loss between water- and land-based exercise. When you burn the same number of calories on land as you do in water, the physical fitness and weight loss benefits are the same. However, there was a trend for those exercising in water to gain more muscle mass than those who exercised on

Genetic marker vaccine could provide answers during an outbreak of avian influenza — and save the poultry industry millions of dollars. By RUSTY CAWLEY


The Big Melt A&M researchers tackle global warming. By KARA BOUNDS SOCOL Texas A&M University scientists involved with climate change issues are as individual in thought as they are in research expertise. But in 2008 — with few exceptions — they have one thing in common: a belief that global warming is occurring and a desire to do their part to both reduce its causes and better adapt to its effects. Many hope to do so by affecting public policy. So far, however, their efforts have had minimal effect. There are vocal proponents for the global warming cause — faculty members such as Gerald North and Andrew Dessler, both in the Department of Atmospheric Sciences. Then there are those who are firm believers in global warming but remain officially neutral — researchers such as Bruce McCarl in the Department of Agricultural Economics and Andrew Klein in the Department of Geography. As for faculty members who publicly reject the theory of global warming, they are virtually nonexistent. In fact, those interviewed could identify only one, and he declined to be included in this story. A DIFFERENT WAY OF DOING THINGS Whether it’s drought research in the Department of Geography, sea-level rise and storm-surge models PHOTOGRAPH BY JEAN WULFSON

Bruce McCarl, (left) professor in the Department of Agricultural Economics, is a firm believer in global warming, but remains officially neutral.

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in the Department of Civil Engineering, or climate studies covering millions of years in the Department of Oceanography and the Department of Geology and Geophysics, research related to climate change touches many academic disciplines at Texas A&M. In the College of Geosciences alone, an estimated 40-plus faculty members are currently studying climate change in one form or another. But whereas conducting climate change research is one thing, successfully relating their findings to those who make environmental policy decisions is something else entirely. Arnold Vedlitz is the holder of the Bob Bullock Chair in Government and Public Policy and is director of the Institute for Science, Technology and Public Policy in Texas A&M’s George Bush School of Government and Public Service. The nonpartisan, interdis-ciplinary institute examines public policy issues, including the link between scientific information and decision making. In short, its research shows that scientific findings concerning global warming are rarely translated into policy. When it comes to this complicated and controversial subject, then, scientists are being forced to present their research in nontraditional ways to warrant the attention of policymakers. There must be minimal confusion in the scientific


message, better packaging of reports and greater skill in communicating with the media. Researchers are also learning that there is power in numbers. As an example, Vedlitz pointed to the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which involved the research of hundreds of scientists — including McCarl. Although the global warming findings of individual scientists had, for years, been virtually dismissed by policymakers, members of the U.N. panel were named laureates of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize along with former Vice President Al Gore. This honor brought with it a tremendous amount of attention to global warming research. Of course, not all scientists come to the same conclusions about every aspect of global warming. But according to those interviewed, increasing scientific data over time and more sophisticated technology have made the case for the overall theory difficult to deny. Vedlitz and his Institute colleages research found that the media does a superb job in presenting the facts and raising awareness about global warming. But in reporters’ efforts to be balanced, they have made the side that disavows global warming appear just as strong as the side that supports it. This, he says, is an extremely inaccurate picture of the global warming debate. CHANGING TIMES North, distinguished professor of atmospheric sciences and holder of the Harold J. Haynes Endowed Chair in Geosciences, says that when he came to Texas A&M in 1986, he felt that he was the only person in the state with an interest in climate change. That situation has since reversed. “My position, I think, is now the mainstream position,” North says of the theory. “When you look at the number of skeptics around the world and the number of scientists who don’t accept global warming, it’s a very small percentage.” Climate change is not difficult to prove, but its causes are. North says that initially, he was troubled by efforts to distinguish natural climate change from change made by humans, known as global warming. In the late 1990s, he and some of his students examined these possible causes. “It’s then that I became convinced that the warming was real and that the models were now sophisticated enough that we could attribute it to human causes,” he says. With satellite imagery and technologically advanced tools used by atmospheric scientists, North can collect data and run climate models that show climate patterns with and without unnatural occurrences. The longer these models run, he says, the clearer the case becomes for global warming. The science is now so sound that the overall focus of global warming research has shifted from determining its existence to studying its repercussions, he says. For the past 20 years, North has taken his

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message of climate change to groups ranging from garden clubs to physics teachers to petroleum engineers. In 2006, he headed a committee of 12 scientists in a report that led to testimony before Congress. That report and testimony involved past climate changes related to a global warming theory. He also gave a deposition in a suit against allowing coal-fired power plants in the state, saying that such plants would contribute to carbon dioxide’s flowing into the atmosphere. “There are too many lines of evidence that converge on the same answer,” North says of global warming. “One can be wrong, but they can’t all be wrong.” WHERE SCIENCE MEETS POLICY Dessler, professor of atmospheric sciences, has had the rare opportunity of viewing the theory of global warming from two different vantage points: as a university professor and as a senior policy analyst in the White House Office of Science and Technology. In the White House, Dessler served as a staff atmospheric scientist. He answered questions related to his field, analyzed articles for scientific merit, worked on climate change documents and prepared questions and answers for White House officials. “As a scientist, I worked in a vacuum,” he says. “Working in the White House showed me where the rubber meets the road — where science meets policy.” Dessler’s primary research interest lies in water vapor feedback — the relationship between water vapor concentrations in the air and greenhouse gases, which affect temperature. It’s this feedback,

“The key thing I’ve learned over the last several years — starting with the White House — is that you must tailor your message based on the values of the audience.” he says, that makes climate difficult to predict. Presenting his research findings has been heavily influenced by his time in the White House. Now, Dessler says, he considers the societal benefit of his research more than he did before. He also tries to look at his findings through the eyes of a policymaker. “The key thing I’ve learned over the last several years — starting with the White House — is that you must tailor your message based on the values of the audience,” he says. “I also learned that it’s difficult for one person to be successfully convinc-

economic effects of a proposed bill. In doing so, he and other members of his group have found that climate change will actually have a neutral to positive effect on agriculture on a national scale. Colder areas, for instance, will have shorter frosts. Some drier areas will have more rainfall caused by increasing rates of evaporation, but others will see less because of shifting weather patterns. Texas, however, will not see the climate change benefits experienced by much of the nation, he says. The state is likely to experience a drier climate, with an expanding time between rainfall events. Indicators show that the state’s crop production could drop by 40 percent. “Since it’s getting warmer in Texas, regardless of the cause, those in the agriculture industry must learn to adapt,” he says.

A MORE SUBTLE APPROACH Although other Texas A&M researchers believe wholeheartedly in global warming, they prefer to let their research findings speak for themselves. One such scientist is Klein, associate professor of geography. Klein, a glaciologist, uses remote sensing and GIS (geographic information systems) to study the cryosphere — the frozen part of the earth’s surface. He has created algorithms to measure global daily snow cover from data collected by NASA. And, for the past seven years, he has used GIS techniques to study human effects in Antarctica through a long-term environmental monitoring program at McMurdo Station. Klein’s primary area of interest, though, is in the recession of tropical glaciers. These large, slowmoving rivers of ice can be found in such mountainous areas as the Peruvian Andes and on Tanzania’s Mount Kilimanjaro and are a critical source of fresh water. Using satellite images, Klein and other scientists have concluded that glaciers have been in a state of retreat at least since the late 1800s — the earliest that scientists can measure. Over the last couple of decades, he says, that retreat appears to have gotten stronger — a phenomenon that involves a complex set of changes. “Glaciers respond not only to temperature but to several other climactic forces,” Klein explains. “While you can’t say glaciers are retreating only because of global warming, these changes are most probably connected indirectly to rising temperatures.” Like Klein, McCarl is a believer in global warming but is not a proselytizer. Although the Texas A&M Regents Professor of Agricultural Economics is often sought out by government entities as a policy analyst, he’s careful to present his findings without bias. “In the job that I am in and in the type of things I do, it’s really important not to be an advocate for any particular position,” McCarl says. “I’m on the research side. I go and talk to farm groups, for example, but I don’t have a message I try to push on them.” McCarl is often asked to analyze the potential

Agricultural adaptability can take on many forms, McCarl says. For instance, with warmer climates becoming even hotter, the citrus production prevalent in the Rio Grande Valley could begin moving north. Cotton and sorghum — both drought-tolerant crops — might begin replacing corn. Livestock herds might include an increase in Brahman cattle, which are better performers in hotter climates. Changing climactic conditions could also present challenges to agricultural experts and agencies such as Texas AgriLife Research, McCarl says. Scientists there could introduce more drought tolerance into traditional Texas crops; find alternative crops that would better acclimate to a warmer, drier climate; or develop more effective irrigation methods friendly to a limited water supply. As a policy analyst, McCarl also has examined


how the Texas forestry and agriculture industries can economically benefit by helping to reduce the level of greenhouse gases. These potential benefits have changed some skeptical attitudes in the Texas agriculture industry. “If a farm group is going to get involved in preventing global warming,” he says, “it’s hard for them to deny that global warming exists.” LOCAL IMPACTS, LONG-TERM SOLUTIONS So if the science is sound and awareness is increasing, why is not more being done on a public policy level to mitigate global warming? “People are unwilling to accept that life as they know it may be changing,” McCarl says. Vedlitz agrees. “Builders want to be able to build. Fishermen want to be able to fish,” he says. And putting restrictions on how they’ve always done so is not a popular move — especially for a politician who hopes to be reelected, particularly in oil- and gas-producing states. As McCarl put it, “There are not many climate change deniers in Congress from non-energy-producing areas.” The lack of action concerning global warming policy is fundamentally a decision to choose the short term over the long term, Vedlitz explains. “Policymakers think, ‘This is a 25-, 50-, 100year problem. Why do I want to take this on during my watch?’” he says. “Usually, a crisis must happen to create action — a sense that something is really a problem and needs to be addressed now.” For the public, this sense of urgency came in the form of Gore’s 2006 film, An Inconvenient Truth. Although those interviewed praised the film for bringing global warming to the forefront, it also had secondary effects of a political nature. “If you can equate climate change to Gore, then people who hate Gore won’t be interested,” Dessler says. Vedlitz’ research indicates that localizing the effects of global warming — as McCarl does in his studies — is critical to getting the attention of policymakers. They need to know how climate change affects their agencies and their constituents. “A lot more needs to be done to successfully communicate what we know about climate change and relate it to real-time, short-term needs of policymakers and individuals responsible for making decisions now,” Vedlitz says. Vedlitz’ and his Institute colleagues likewise indicate that those who simply don’t want global warming to be a problem can be just as much of a hindrance to policy change as those who legitimately don’t believe in the theory. Barriers also come in the form of global warming believers. “Scientists and engineers often agree in general but disagree about what to do on a local level,” he says. On a personal note, Vedlitz says that by continuing to “kick this can down the road,” society is only making things worse for future generations. “You’ve got a task that’s going to take some time,” he says, “but we are making the burden greater by not acting.”

Gerald North, (left) a distinguished professor in the Department of Atmospheric Sciences, has taken his message of climate change to groups ranging from garden clubs to physics teachers to petroleum engineers.

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ing. It takes a barrage of people.” Dessler’s White House experience also made him rethink his “linear model” idea that science predicts policy. “Two people can agree on science,” he says, “but disagree vehemently on what to do about it.” Global warming is today what cigarettes were in the 1960s, Dessler says. It was widespread knowledge that cigarettes were harmful, but by questioning the science, those who benefited from their production put doubt in the mind of the public. Today, that same type of self-interest drives most of the opposition against global warming science, he says. “A lot of people’s opposition is essentially based on economics,” Dessler says. “They don’t want extra expenses; they don’t want their lives to change. But once they realize that climate change is going to make things worse for them, they’re quick to change their minds.”


Making Up is

Hard to Do Political reconciliation—a difficult and controversial challenge. By LEANNE SOUTH Political reconciliation. Ask for a definition from someone who lives in a democratic, civil society and from someone who lives in a nation shattered by civil, religious or sectarian violence, and the answers will differ significantly. For one person, the answer may lie in members of political parties using less confrontational language when describing the policies of the opposing party. For another person, the answer is not as simple when that person has been tortured or imprisoned for opposing the ruling government or for professing a particular religious faith. The difficult and controversial challenge to reconcile individuals whose political relationships have been damaged from civil conflict or repressive rule caught Colleen Murphy’s attention. “Political reconcilliation is important, given the consensus that it is a condition for successful democratization,” says Murphy, an assistant professor of philosophy. “It is controversial, both because the moral justifiability of the pursuit of political reconciliation has been questioned and because there is significant disagreement about what kinds of processes (e.g., amnesty, criminal trials and truth commissions) actually promote political reconciliation.” Murphy wants to clarify and understand the moral aspects of the damage to political relationships that happens during conflict and repressive rule. She chose three frameworks in examining the kinds of relationships that should be fostered in nations striving to recover: the rule of law, trust and substantive justice. Each framework shows just how relationships have been damaged in such countries and, in the process, highlights the need for reconciliation. Murphy used conflicts in three different nations to examine these frameworks — Argentina, Northern Ireland and South Africa. She chose ILLUSTRATION BY BRIAN STAUFFER

Achieving political reconciliation requires a successful transition to trusting political relationships among officials and citizens.

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these countries because the dynamic of the conflict was different in each. Her work over the past year focused on the moral value of political trust among a nation’s officials and its citizens. “I’ve spent time looking at why it is morally problematic when there is a lack of trust or when trust is unreasonable,” says Murphy, who also is writing a book about political reconciliation. She believes that achieving reconciliation requires a successful transition to trusting political relationships between officials and citizens. Fostering such trust promotes respect. When we trust, she says, we view trusted citizens and officials as competent and lacking ill will. By trusting, we presume that citizens understand and follow the law and other basic norms for social interaction. Similarly, we presume that officials act effectively. It is respectful of other subjects and officials to presume this competence rather than demand that such competence be proven. However, such assumptions often become unreasonable during civil conflict or repressive rule. Certain officials may become unable to enforce the rules that they pass or have no effective control over the organization of the society or community that they govern. Thus, to foster morally justifiable political trust, it is necessary first to promote the conditions that make it reasonable to assume that officials and citizens are competent and lack ill will. The next step of her research will examine the kinds of processes that promote and foster reasonable trust. All in all, the goal of Murphy’s theoretical approach is a better understanding of the moral problems associated with political relations in troubled nations. That understanding, Murphy hopes, will lead to more effective policies that foster reconciliation.




Getting to know the Opossum. By ANGELA CLENDENIN

Researchers hope the results of projects on the genetics behind opossum neural regeneration will one day lead to therapies and possible cures for people who are paralyzed by severe brain and spinal trauma.

important functions in regulating the activities of protein-coding genes in different tissues or stages of development. These elements may be important in leading to differences in the form and function of organisms that arise in different branches of the mammalian tree. Samollow, who spearheaded the effort proposing the opossum genome sequencing project, notes that we can learn much from our marsupial cousins. “Understanding the extent to which the opossum genome is composed of transposable element families has given us deeper insight into how genomes evolve and how new gene regulatory networks arise among species,” adds Samollow. “From this basic information, future research will potentially focus on specific traits in the opossum, such as immune system function and susceptibility to certain cancers, through which we will be able to address questions of importance in biomedical science and human health.” Like all marsupials, the opossum is born after a short gestation — approximately equivalent to a midterm eutherian fetus — and completes most of its development outside the mother’s body. This reproductive characteristic has enabled many kinds of experimental strategies for investigating normal and experimentally manipulated developmental processes. One especially hopeful area of research will be to examine the roles that specific genes play in spinal cord and nerve regeneration in these newborns. It has long been known that young opossums suffering from spinal cord injury have had the ability to regenerate their neural tissue. Researchers hope the results of projects on the genetics behind opossum neural regeneration will one day lead to therapies and possible cures for people who are paralyzed by severe brain and spinal trauma. The completion of the opossum genome project has opened many doors for studying the actions of many genes simultaneously during neural regeneration, as well as many other kinds of normal and abnormal developmental, physiologic and morphogenic processes.


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A little gray marsupial has been making some big news around the world. The genome sequence of the gray, short-tailed opossum, Monodelphis domestica, the world’s most widely used marsupial research model, has been completed, and scientists at Texas A&M University’s College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences are predicting some big discoveries from this little mammal. In recognition of these efforts, in 2005 the National Institutes of Health awarded a $1.14 million grant to researcher Paul Samollow of the Department of Veterinary Integrative Biosciences to build a comprehensive expressed sequence tag database that will be used to identify and physically locate nearly all protein-coding genes in the opossum genome. “When a new mammalian genome is sequenced, the locations of the genes are typically inferred by comparing the structure of the new genome sequence to that of key model genomes such as human or mouse — a process that works well for eutherian (placental) mammals, which are all relatively closely related evolutionarily speaking; but the evolutionary distance between marsupials and eutherians is so great that this approach becomes problematic for many classes of genes,” says Samollow. “By identifying the expressed products of genes [RNA transcripts], it will be possible to dramatically increase the accuracy of the opossum genome annotation. As we go in and begin revising and reannotating the opossum genome, researchers around the world will have access to the most current information available for their projects.” Also coming to light are some of the roles that so-called jumping genes, or transposable genetic elements — DNA that moves around in the genome and was once thought to have no function — play in overall genetic regulation. Analyses using the opossum genome have shown that huge portions of mammalian genomes are composed of families of formerly active (and some still active) transposable elements, some of which the organism has co-opted to build new genome structures that have


Saved? Can they be

Many historic churches in Texas are slowly crumbling apart and their chances of survival don’t have a prayer. By KEITH RANDALL with photographs by RANDAL FORD Many historic churches in Texas are slowly crumbling, and their chances of survival don’t have a prayer. A Texas A&M University architecture professor hopes to change that scenario. Anat Geva, associate professor of architecture, is participating in a project to locate, document and preserve historic church buildings and houses of worship in Texas. Officially titled the Texas Sacred Places Project, the program was launched in 2007 as a collaborative initiative of several groups — among them historians, preservationists, professors, architects and the Texas Historical Commission — all determined to ensure that some of the state’s oldest churches literally aren’t blown to dust. “There are numerous historic churches that are in danger of not surviving,” Geva explains. “Most of these have not been used for many years. Our focus right now is twofold: to identify and document these churches, and then to find ways to help preserve them.” Project participants hope to compile a list of resources where data on older religious properties are collected and posted online, and future plans call for survey work on some of the historic church buildings. Geva and others are working with Partners in Sacred Places, a Philadelphia-based organization dedicated to promoting the stewardship of historic religious properties. A nonprofit organization, it coordinates workshops and helps to raise funds for the preservation work.

Although many of today’s worship places could be classified as “megachurches” that occupy two city blocks and can seat 10,000 or more members, the ones that Geva hopes to preserve are far different. Most are humble in scale and represent the culture of each particular area. “So preserving them is, in a way, preserving the culture of the time,” she explains. Geva is studying how immigrants transplanted their concepts of sacred architecture onto Texas soil. She has examined seven churches built by European immigrants during the second half of the 19th century in south central Texas. In her study, Geva showed that these churches retained the form of the congregations’ homeland church and did not “succumb to the local forces even in extreme conditions such as the hot summers of Texas. These buildings serve as the symbol of the community’s culture and heritage linking the present with the past.” Geva says that the group has agreed to discuss one point that needs clarification: What exactly does “historic” mean? “Works of a religious nature can mean different things to different people,” she notes. “Does ‘historic’ mean within the past century or beyond it? That is one question we are asking ourselves. “What we know for sure is that these churches at one time had an impact on the people of their area. If we lose these buildings, we lose part of history and perhaps a piece of our own heritage. “That would be a terrible loss for everyone.”

THE LIST Geva has examined seven churches built by European immigrants during the second half of the 19th century in south central Texas. They include Wesley Brethren Church, Wesley (Austin County, 1866), built by Czech immigrants; Bethlehem Lutheran Church, Round Top (Fayette County, 1866–1867), built by immigrants from the region of Alsace, France; and St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, Serbin (Lee County, 1871), built by the Wends who immigrated from Lusatia, Germany.Also included are Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church, Cestohowa (Karnes County, 1877), built by Polish immigrants; Gethsemane Lutheran Church, Austin (Travis County, 1883), built by Swedish immigrants; and Bastrop Christian Church, Bastrop (Bastrop County, 1895), built by German immigrants.

St. John the Baptist Catholic Church, Schulenburg

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St. Paul Lutheran Church, Serbin

Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral, Houston

Langtry Baptist Church, Langtry

Mission EspĂ­ritu Santo, Goliad

St. Roch Catholic Church, Mentz

Mission Calera, Calera

Pipe Creek Presbyterian Church, Pipe Creek

Mt. Horeb Baptist Church, Blanco

Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church, Castroville

St. Stevens Episcopal Church, Wimberly

Ruidosa Chapel, Ruidosa

Trinity Lutheran Church, Stonewall

St. John the Baptist Church, Schulenburg

Abandoned Catholic Church, Terlingua

Sacred Heart Church, Galveston

Greater Life Christian Center, Fredericksburg

Harper Presbyterian, Harper

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Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, Fredericksburg


St. Martin’s Catholic Church, Warrenton

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Bang Blunder

Astronomers take a new look at Einstein’s cosmological constant. By SHANA HUTCHINS

Nicholas Suntzeff, (right) a professor in the Department of Physics, co-discovered an unexplained acceleration in the Universe’s expansion and the first evidence for a mysterious substance known as dark energy.

terested in — the Hubble constant and the deceleration of the Universe,” Suntzeff says. “He said a lot of interesting astronomy lies along the path toward those numbers, but the goal is that if you have both, you can understand the evolution of the Universe and its probable fate.” This path led Suntzeff in 1998 to co-discover an unexplained acceleration in the Universe’s expansion and the first evidence for a mysterious substance known as dark energy that makes up nearly 75 percent of the Universe. Recently, this same path also put him on a collision course with destiny — one with the power to rewrite astronomical history and correct one of its greatest physicists, Albert Einstein, in the process. Ironically it was Sandage’s own mentor, Edwin Hubble, whose 1929 discovery of the Universe’s expansion relegated Einstein to his current astrophysical fate — a self-described “biggest blunder” PHOTOGRAPH BY JEAN WULFSON

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Nicholas Suntzeff knows stars when he sees them, even from billions of miles away. During the past 25 years, he’s made an international career of observing some of the biggest and brightest: supernovas — spectacular stellar explosions that can briefly outshine their entire host galaxies before burning out. Back in 2005, he didn’t need a telescope to identify a bright opportunity when Texas A&M University sought his help to launch a premier astronomy program. It was a challenge Suntzeff had been preparing for since the 1980s when, as a postdoctoral research associate at Carnegie Observatories, he was encouraged by famed 20th century observational astronomer Allan Sandage to focus on Type Ia supernovas — more specifically, their brightness — to measure precise distances. “Allan Sandage always told us there were only two numbers any astronomer should ever be in-


Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory (below) at sunset. Supernova 1994D, visible as the bright spot on the lower left, occurred in the outskirts of disk galaxy NGC 4526. (opposite page)

embodied in a “cosmological constant” he predicted in 1917 to ensure the never-changing Universe that Hubble’s finding debunked. Eighty years later, it turns out that Einstein’s initial hunch may have been right, and Suntzeff ’s latest international collaboration, the Essence project, is on the verge of proving it. Armed with nearly six years of data from 200 supernovas observed from high atop a mountain in northern Chile and comparatively analyzed via the Internet by about a dozen of the world’s best astronomers, including Texas A&M’s Kevin Krisciunas, the team is zeroing in on digital images of the night sky to examine dark energy and, by default, Einstein’s theory. “We can never test dark energy in the laboratory, so astronomers have to measure it through observational data,” Suntzeff explains. “One of the

“Dark energy is completely unexplained by conventional physics,” Suntzeff says. “No one understands what it is.” ways we’re measuring it is with supernovas.” By measuring how much the space between Earth and these distant supernovas has stretched, the team can pinpoint how big the Universe is, or its acceleration due to dark energy. From the amount of dark energy, they can calculate what is called the w parameter. For Einstein’s cosmological constant to be the dark energy, w must equal –1. Although the team won’t have final results until late 2008, Suntzeff says that their tentative measurement stands at –1, plus or minus 10 percent error, indicating at least initially that Einstein will be vindicated. “Dark energy is completely unexplained by conventional physics,” Suntzeff says. “No one understands what it is. Perhaps it is a shadow of the fifth dimension envisioned by string theory. Or maybe it is a new vacuum energy density that is changing slowly in time. We have no idea, but we know it is the dominant constituent of space and that its properties determine the ultimate fate of our Universe. That is what excites both physicists and astronomers. I sure want Texas A&M to be in on this ultimate chase.”

First Light Analyzing echoes from a distant supernova. If history is any indication, supernovas are as rare as they are brilliant. In the past 1,000 years, only five have been seen within our galaxy, the Milky Way. The most recent two, so bright that they could be seen in the daytime sky, were discovered by Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe and his assistant, Johannes

but curiously went undetected. By studying its light, arriving hundreds of years later, they are working to determine the properties and physics of the explosion, not to mention some of the biggest mysteries of our Universe. “We can still ‘see’ the original explosion by the echo of light reflecting off of

walls of dust,” Suntzeff explains. “Just as a sound echo repeats the words you shout, the light echo repeats the information of the explosion. We can point our telescopes at the echo and, by looking at the light, be able to say exactly what it was that blew up.” Suntzeff ’s team is now looking in parts

of the sky where they would most expect to find supernovas in an attempt to detect echoes from the remaining four that happened during the last 1,000 years. “For me, I’m motivated more by emotion than science,” Suntzeff explains. “I think it’s absolutely cool that I can see the same light that Tycho saw.” PHOTOGRAPH BY TIM ABBOTT


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Kepler, in 1572 and 1604, respectively. In 2006 Texas A&M University astronomer Nicholas Suntzeff and a group of international collaborators found evidence of the supernova that Tycho saw, as well as that of another which Tycho and astronomers of his time didn’t — one that blew up around 1670



of Darkness Uncovering secrets of vast underwater caves. By KEITH RANDALL

New species of caveadapted shrimp from Cenote Oak Kimin on the mainland of the Yucatan Peninsula. The shrimp on top is closely related to a acave species inhabiting the nearby island of Cozumel, while the bottom one has several unusual characteristics and may represent a new genus. Shrimp photos by Brett Gonzalez.

the aquifer. It gives us a unique look at the subterranean marine habitat in the area.” Iliffe believes that this cave and thousands of others like it in the Yucatán area hold a treasure of a different sort — perhaps dozens of new species of marine life. “It is almost a certainty that there are creatures down there that we never knew existed,” he believes. “There is a lot more to be discovered in this cave, and while the knowledge we get from it could answer questions concerning evolution and ecology, it will probably raise many more. We just don’t know what is down there.” Iliffe, a veteran scuba diver, has discovered more than 300 species of marine life in the last 30 years. He has probably explored more underwater caves — more than 1,000 — than anyone in the world. He has examined caves in Belize, Hawaii, New Zealand, Australia, China, the Philippines, Thailand, Jamaica, Iceland, Tahiti, the Bahamas and other locations and has published more than 150 scientific articles on marine life in caves. “Marine caves continue to reveal new discoveries and new life forms that we did not know existed,” Iliffe notes. “One of the great thrills about diving into these caves is that you can literally turn your head and see a creature that perhaps no one has ever seen before. These new shrimp and other creatures like them may exist only in a single Yucatán cave and no place else on the planet. “Unfortunately, the exponential rate of tourism development in this area, called the Riviera Maya, threatens both the caves and the animals inhabiting them. Construction of new mega-resorts has buried or destroyed some caves, while pollution of the groundwater may be driving cave species to the brink of extinction. It is a race to discover these unique animals before they are wiped off the face of the planet.” His research is sponsored by Conservation International, and Iliffe plans another trip to the area in several months — giving his eyes plenty of time to adjust to the darkness. PHOTOGRAPH BY BRETT GONZALEZ

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There is dark, and then there is total blackness. Tom Iliffe knows the real definition of dark. He spends much of his time exploring underwater caves all over the world in areas where it is dark beyond imagination. In one such cave on Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula, he recently discovered two new species of shrimp inhabiting a subterranean realm of perpetual darkness. Iliffe, a professor in the Department of Marine Biology at Texas A&M University at Galveston and one of the world’s leading experts on life in underwater caves, says that the yet-unnamed species are about one-half to one inch long and appear whitish because of a lack of pigment caused by the dark conditions. Both shrimp have reduced eyes and almost no vision, but rely on long antennae to sense chemicals in the water or vibrations around them. The creatures have adapted to the blackness they live in, he notes. “The cave where these shrimp were found is located close to where the Mayan civilization began and some of the natives there still speak and use the original Mayan language,” Iliffe explains. Located near a mangrove swamp just behind the shoreline, the cave has a Mayan name right out of a travel brochure: Cueva Aak Kimin, meaning dead turtle cave and named after the skeletons of at least 15 sea turtles discovered there. The cave where these shrimp were discovered formed thousands of years ago, most likely during the Ice Age when sea level was 300 feet or more lower than it is today, Iliffe believes. “The cave itself provides dramatic examples of changes in climate and sea level over the past 18,000 years since the last Ice Age ended. It is located on the coastal margin of a vast freshwater lens, floating underground on top of denser salt water. Due to the lack of surface rivers or streams in Yucatán, this aquifer is the primary source of freshwater for the peninsula,” he notes. The cave, more than one mile long and 225 feet deep, runs parallel to the Mexican coast. “It is one of the deepest in the area, and because it is so deep, it gives us a great opportunity to explore and investigate the salty groundwater underlying



Available in print for the first time, this day-by-day diary of George H. W. Bush’s life in China opens a fascinating window into one of the most formative periods of his career. As head of the United States Liaison Office in Beijing from 1974 to 1975, Bush witnessed high-level policy deliberations and daily social interactions between the two Cold War superpowers. The China Diary of George H. W. Bush looks intimately at this fundamental period of international history, marks a monumental contribution to our understanding of U.S.–China relations and clarifies the ideals of a global president in the making. In compelling words, Bush reveals a thoughtful and pragmatic realism that would guide him for decades. He considers the crisis of Vietnam, the difficulties of détente and tensions in the Middle East while lamenting the global decline in American power. He formulates views on the importance of international alliances and personal diplomacy as

he struggles to form meaningful relationships with China’s top leaders. With a critical eye for detail, he depicts key political figures, including Gerald Ford, Donald Rumsfeld, Deng Xiaoping and the everdifficult Henry Kissinger. Throughout, Bush offers impressions of China and its people, describing his explorations of Beijing by bicycle, and experiences with Chinese food, language lessons and Ping-Pong. Complete with a short foreword by George H. W. Bush, as well as annotations and a biographical introduction by Jeffrey Engel placing Bush’s China experience in the broad context of his public career, The China Diary of George H. W. Bush offers an unmediated perspective on American diplomatic history and explores a crucial period’s influence on a future commander in chief. Jeffrey A. Engel is assistant professor of history and public policy at Texas A&M University’s Bush School of Government and Public Service.

The making of a global president. Edited and Introduced by JEFFREY A . ENGEL with a foreword by GEORGE H. W. BUSH

The China Diary of George


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Doug Welsh’s Texas Garden Almanac By DOUG WELSH and illustrated by ALETHA ST. ROMAIN


Think of Doug Welsh’s Texas Garden Almanac as a giant monthly calendar for the entire state — a practical, information-packed, month-by-month guide for gardeners and “yardeners.” This book provides everything you need to know about flowers and garden design; trees, shrubs, and vines; lawns; vegetable, herb, and fruit gardening; and soil, mulch, water, pests, and plant care. It will help you to create beautiful, productive, healthy gardens and have fun doing it. Writer, educator and broadcaster Doug Welsh gives a wealth of practical gardening advice in this book. Encouraging us to “think like a plant,” Welsh holds pruning school in February, conducts a lawn clinic in April, builds a perennial garden in September and shows us how to grow fresh vegetables for Thanksgiving. Yet this barely scratches the surface of all that is offered in this comprehensive, fun-to-use guide. With colorful and instructive illustrations and helpful information boxes, plant lists, charts, sidebars and tips, the book is written in the engaging, conversational style that anyone who has listened to Welsh’s radio show will recognize. Whether your passion is roses or green beans, wildflowers or trees, reading this book is like having a personal garden consultant and friend at your side. Doug Welsh’s Texas Garden Almanac will inspire you throughout the year and make you more eager than ever to get out into your garden. Doug Welsh is a professor in the Department of Horticulture Sciences and extension horticulturist in the Texas AgriLife Extension Service at Texas A&M and statewide coordinator for the Texas Master Gardener program.

When naming the signature landscapes of Texas, if you have never said “Brazos Valley” in the same breath as “Hill Country” or “Big Bend,” this book could change your mind. In the fine, penetrating photography of D. Gentry Steele and the revealing, affectionate reflections of M. Jimmie Killingsworth, the Brazos Valley has found its champions in two adopted sons who have learned to love its quiet, uncelebrated beauty. In words and pictures, Killingsworth and Steele remind us that this valley was the birthplace

Biogeochemistry of Estuaries By THOMAS S. BIANCHI

Biogeochemistry of Estuaries offers a comprehensive and interdisciplinary approach to understanding biogeochemical cycling in estuaries. Located at the interface between land and the coastal ocean, estuaries are dynamic, highly productive systems that have often been historically associated with the development of many great centers of early human civilization. Therefore, these systems have been and continue to be strongly affected by anthropogenic inputs. Designed as a text for intermediate to advanced students, this book uses many illustrations and an extensive literature base to impart the state-of-theart knowledge in this field. Although many books in estuarine science consist of edited volumes, typically focused on highly specific topics, Biogeochemistry of Estuaries provides, for the first time, a foundation in geomorphology, geochemistry, biochemistry, aqueous chemistry and ecology — while making strong linkages (throughout the text) to ecosystembased processes in estuarine sciences. Thomas Bianchi is a professor in the Department of Oceanography at Texas A&M.

The Echo of Battle


Throughout American history, the wars of the United States have defined the nation. And after each one, the army searches the lessons of past conflicts to prepare for the next clash of arms. Surveying 200 years from the Revolutionary War to the Iraq conflict, history professor Brian Linn examines how the U.S. Army has conceptualized warfare in his new book, The Echo of Battle: The Army’s Way of War. He surveys past assumptions and errors that underlie the Army’s visions of warfare, and he explores its forgotten heritage of deterrence, its long experience with counter-guerrilla operations and its successive efforts to transform itself. Linn argues the Army has had a habit of preparing for wars that seldom occurred while it has ignored those that it must actually fight. He shows how leadership and weaponry have continually altered the Army’s approach to conflict and how the Army is adapting to meet the challenges of fighting a war in the 21st century. Brian Linn is a professor in the Department of History at Texas A&M.

of a republic, was once the agricultural heart of Texas and was the ancestral home of a great alluvial river. Reflections of the Brazos Valley will inspire all who live and work here — and those who just visit — to see the Brazos Valley anew and form a fuller appreciation of what it offers. D. Gentry Steele is an emeritus professor in the Department of Anthropology at Texas A&M. M. Jimmie Killingsworth is a professor in the Department of English at Texas A&M.

Hell Under the Rising Sun


Late in 1940, the young men of the 2nd Battalion, 131st Field Artillery Regiment, stepped off the trucks at Camp Bowie in Brownwood, Texas, ready to complete the training they would need for active duty in World War II. Many of them had grown up together in Jacksboro, Texas, and almost all of them were eager to face any challenge. Just over a year later, these carefree young Texans would be confronted by horrors they could never have imagined. The battalion was en route to bolster the Allied defense of the Philippines when they received news of the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor. Soon, they found themselves ashore on Java, with orders to assist the Dutch, British and Australian defense of the island against imminent Japanese invasion. When war came to Java in March 1942, the Japanese forces overwhelmed the outnumbered Allied defenders in little more than a week. For more than three years, the Texans, along with the sailors and marines who survived the sinking of the USS Houston, were prisoners of the Imperial Japanese Army. Beginning in late 1942, these prisoners of war were shipped to Burma to accelerate completion of the Burma–Thailand railway. These men labored alongside other Allied prisoners and Asian conscript laborers to build more than 260 miles of railroad for their Japanese taskmasters. They suffered abscessed wounds, near-starvation, daily beatings and debilitating disease, and 89 of the original 534 Texans taken prisoner died in the infested, malarial jungles. The survivors received a hero’s welcome from Gov. Coke Stevenson, who declared October 29, 1945, as “Lost Battalion Day” when they finally returned to Texas. Kelly E. Crager consulted official documentary sources of the National Archives and the U.S. Army and mined the personal memoirs and oral history interviews of the Lost Battalion members. He focuses on the treatment the men received in their captivity and surmises that a main factor in the battalion’s comparatively high survival rate (84 percent of the 2nd Battalion) was the camaraderie of the Texans and their commitment to care for each other. Kelly E. Crager is a visiting assistant professor in the Department of History at Texas A&M.

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Reflections of the Brazos Valley


Saving HIstoric Texas Churches. Page 18

Division of Research and Graduate Studies Texas A&M University 1112 TAMU College Station, TX 77843-1112

Advance 2008  

2008 edition of Advance, the annual publication of Texas A&M University's Division of Research and Graduate Studies

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