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K-State Today

June 5, 2013



College of Arts and Sciences selects Kempton to head geology department

By Tom Roesler

Pamela Kempton will be the next geology department head in the College of Arts and Sciences. She will start her new job in September.

"Dr. Kempton’s unique blend of experiences in academic and national laboratory settings will help our students understand both the fundamental and applied aspects of geoscience," said Peter Dorhout, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. "Her history of leadership in research in areas that cut across traditional disciplines and interests will help the department meet its goals."

Kempton comes to K-State from the U.K. Natural Environment Research Council, the U.K. equivalent of the U.S. National Science Foundation, where she served as the interim director of science. The Natural Environment Research Council is the principle funder of earth and environmental science research in the U.K. In this role, she is responsible for delivery of the council’s funding for research through strategic research programs and responsive mode.

"I am very excited about the prospect of coming to K-State," Kempton said. "One of the things that particularly attracted me to the job was the university’s vision to be recognized as one of the Top 50 public research universities in the United States and the fact that the vision is backed up by a plan of action."

Kempton holds a doctorate in igneous petrology and a master's degree in sedimentology from Southern Methodist University. Her research career has focused on problems of mantle geodynamics, basalt petrogenesis, and evolution of the Earth’s lower crust and upper mantle. Following her doctorate, she worked at NASA, where she held a National Research Council postdoctoral fellowship. She moved to the U.K. in 1985 to take up a research fellowship at the Open University and later joined the Natural Environment Research Council Isotope Geosciences Laboratory as a senior research scientist, where she established the first Hf isotope laboratory in the U.K.

Through her science management roles, Kempton has worked closely with both the academic research community and the users of that research, particularly government departments in the U.K., Europe and the U.S. Collaborations with organizations like the U.K. Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.K. Department for International Development, led to establishment of cutting-edge research programs in strategic areas for the council such as Environment and Human Health, Environmental Nanoscience and Ecosystem Services for Poverty Alleviation. The latter is a $65 million collaborative initiative that aims to deliver improved understanding of the way ecosystems function, the services they provide, and their relationship with the political economy and sustainable growth, so that ecosystems in developing countries can be managed both sustainably and in a way that contributes to poverty reduction.

"I am thrilled to have the opportunity to use my experience as both scientist and science manager as I work with other members of the geology department to contribute to the K-State 2025 vision," Kempton said. "One of my aims will be to grow the department, increasing the overall research capability as well as the number of graduate students. But we will want to do that in a sustainable way."

Kempton has held honorary research fellowships at Cardiff University and Birkbeck College, University of London. Currently, she serves as a member of the British Geology Survey Advisory Committee.