Laboratory Technician Support: Enhancing Access to the John W. Handin Laboratory for Experimental Rock Deformation
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This award will support a new full-time technical position in the John W. Handin Laboratory for Experimental Rock Deformation at the Center for Tectonophysics, Texas A&M University, with the goal of enhancing research and education opportunities in experimental rock deformation. Experimental rock deformation has played a crucial role in evaluating many scientific and engineering problems that involve mechanics of the Earth. The five-year technician support will let them expand their testing capabilities, increase the impact of laboratory discoveries, and broaden and diversify laboratory users and visitors in research, education and outreach opportunities. Improved technical support will facilitate new collaborations to tackle the most significant problems of our research of earthquake mechanics, plate tectonics, and the character of the Earth''s lithosphere, with societal applications to understanding and evaluating natural hazards. The new education and outreach program we envision, facilitated with the new technical position, will advance the transfer of knowledge, help foster critical research to meet the needs of society in the years to come, introduce students to the STEM fields of experimental rock and sediment mechanics, and define career paths in the Earth Sciences.The John W. Handin Laboratory for Experimental Rock Deformation at the Center for Tectonophysics, Texas A&M University has a long history of education and research in experimental rock deformation, and has contributed to understanding the mechanical behavior of lithospheric faults and shear zones by making use of a wide array of deformation apparatus designed to simulate conditions of the Earth''s interior. However, the extent of collaboration and use of our laboratory by new users outside their program and from other institutions has been limited by the technical investment and training needed to perform experiments effectively and safely. The new laboratory technician will provide laboratory oversight and training of visitors, assist in development of online preparatory courses, and digital data archiving. Specifically, the new technician will be engaged in projects to (1) enhance utility and maintenance of laboratory facilities, (2) develop new methods and technology, (3) help develop on-line training courses on experimental methods of rock deformation for visiting researchers and students, (4) help expand education/outreach of experimental rock deformation to other programs at Texas A&M and to geoscientists at other institutions, and (5) enhance data management of open-access archives of digital experimental data and technical drawings of apparatus.This award reflects NSF''s statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation''s intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.