Ron Dorn
Professor of Geography
Co-Coordinator, Arizona Geographic Alliance
ronald.dorn@asu.edu

Life is NOT a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in one pretty and well-preserved piece, but to skid across the line broadside, thoroughly used up, worn out, covered in sweat and dirt and blood, screaming "holy sh*t, what a ride!"
        My view of life, but the saying is adapted from Mavis Leyrer, Octogenarian, of Seattle


My responsibilities as an ASU Professor revolve around

OVERVIEW of RESEARCH ACTIVITIES

For the last several years, I have developed an interest in whether the steep mountain slopes that abut metropolitan Phoenix pose hazards for people and infrastructure. Thus, I have been studying debris flows, rock falls, and rock slides that occur all around metroPhoenix.  Students are most welcome to participate in this hazards research.  There are a host of different opportunities for students to map out the dimensions and volume of these mass wasting events, and hopefully, publish your findings.

My primary research interests rest on the geography of rock and mineral decay (weathering).  In particular, we are losing our collective priceless global cultural heritage of rock art daily through human and natural weathering processes.  Thus, I feel an imperative to focus my expertise to help rock art researchers understand what geographical information can be extracted rock art before it is lost forever.  If you want to obtain an understanding for why the study of rock art is so important, please read Cave Paintings and the Human Spirit: The Origin of Creativity and Belief (Amazon link) and listen to this NPR interview with Dr. David Whitley.  This review of Dr. Whitley's book should convince you of its importance. However, if you want the cliff notes version, please watch this TED talk by Dr. Whitley

For your convenience, I present here a series of  presentations on the aspect of the geography of weathering that offers the greatest potential to understand rock art. Rock Varnish: An Internet Primer for Rock Art Research can be used freely in your teaching and educational efforts.  (The only restriction is that you may not sell a product using the imagery.)

A more conventional presentation of my research activities can be found in my vitae.

Google Scholar has introduced a new way to track scientific citations called "Google Scholar Citations".  This is my profile in this experimental tracking system.

This graphic reflects what science is all about and what very few "scientists" admit.
This is a great article about how science really works.

And yet, another expression of the idea:
"We are here for this — to make mistakes and to correct ourselves, to stand the blows and hand them out. We must never feel disarmed: nature is immense and complex, but it is not impermeable to the intelligence; we must circle around it, pierce and probe it, look for the opening or make it."
Primo Levi, The Periodic Table (1975)

If you want another take on this issue, watch Kathryn Schulz's TED talk on the importance of being wrong.

TEACHING RESPONSIBILITIES

Teaching rests at the heart of my job and the reason why I chose to be a Professor instead of a Research Scientist at a laboratory.

Some professors desire to be a Sage on the Stage or a Professor on the Pulpit; I do not.  There are others who consider themselves the Gatekeeper of Grades, giving out only a few As and Bs; I eschew this perspective as unethical (Reading). All students should be guided to earn As. 

Rather, I maintain a consumer-oriented approach, because college is enormously expensive in your money and time (click here to see research indicating that professors can save students lots of money by investigating the use of online readings, instead of outrageously expensive textbooks).  Through my hopefully entertaining and enthusiastic teaching, I want to help students achieve their goals.  Sometimes, this involves one-on-one discussions on how to succeed in college.  Other times, it involves helping students master course material.  Still other times, I simply help with minor corrections to a student's path and then act as cheerleader. 

The bottom line is that I want each student to master my course objectives and receive top grades.  Since the current educational system does not address the need to find spatially gifted students, I love to identify these students -- who in many cases never found academic comfort until they discovered the spatial thinking of geography. 

A wonderful new piece of research can help students with test anxiety.  These researchers found that if students write about their thoughts of an upcoming big test -- even undergoing a brief expressive piece of writing would significantly improve student exam scores -- the most so for students "habitually anxious about test testing." The authors explain: "[s]imply writing about one's worries before a high-stakes exam can boost test scores.

I also enjoy helping students find the best ways to learn, such as this concise compilation by some chemistry professors.  However, the job of mastering course objectives remains the responsibility of the student.  Ma ka hana ka 'ike says it all in Hawaiian: in the work is the knowledge. I cannot and should not do this work for you to learn. Ultimately, this old axiom remains true even of today's  ipod generation students:

I hear for the first time, I forget.
I read for reinforcement, I try to remember.
I see, I question.
I do for myself, I learn.
I teach to others, I understand.
I reflect after teaching, I improve.
CURRENT OR UPCOMING CLASSES

 
Fall 2014


GPH 111: Introduction to Physical Geography (MWF 12 to 12:50 PM; Tempe Campus PSF 166)

GPH 494: Arizona Landscapes (Session B; iCourse, 1 credit - great class if you like to travel and see Arizona)

GCU 114: World Social Studies (a course for elementary education majors): MWF 10:30 to 11:20 am (Tempe Campus PSA 230) - SB, G, and H

GCU 414: Teaching Geography Standards (instructor permission only; e-mail ronald.dorn@asu.edu if you are a secondary ed geography BAE major)


Spring 2015


GPH 111: Introduction to Physical Geography (hybrid: lectures online and labs in person)

GPH 211: Landform Processes (Internet SQ Class)

GPH 494: Arizona Landscapes (Session B; iCourse, 1 credit)

Graduate Students Completed Degrees

I am very proud of the success of our Geography Department's graduate students.   I have been privileged to advise fabulous minds and these persons contribute greatly to the development and dissemination of new geographic knowledge.  Within the last few years, these have been:
 
 
Student Title Year, Degree First Appointment After Degree
Phil Larson
Conceptual field-based models to elucidate the distribution and nature of desert fluvial terraces: Case studies within the Sonoran Desert, Basin and Range, Arizona. 2013, Ph.D. Dissertation, Arizona State University
Assistant Professor, Minnesota State at Mankato
Emma Harrison Introducing a terrestrial carbon pool in desert mountains 2013, M.A. Thesis, Arizona State University Visiting Instructor, University of Wyoming
Elyssa Gutbrod Implementing Rapid Assessment of the Trail Environments of Arid Regions: Indicator Development and Implementation Scenarios 2013, Ph.D. Dissertation, Arizona State University GIS Professional Employment (Titan Mapping Solutions), Calgary, Canada
Casey Allen
Using rock art as an alternative science pedagogy
2008, Ph.D. Dissertation, Arizona State University
Assistant Professor, University of Colorado-Denver
Douglas Frink
Explorations into a Dynamic Process-Oriented Soil Science
2007, Ph.D. Dissertation
Visiting Professor, Valdosta State University
Wendy Bigler
Historical biocomplexity in irrigation agriculture. The Akimel O'Odham (Pima) and the Gila River, Arizona
2007, Ph.D. Dissertation, Arizona State University
Assistant Professor, Southern Illinois University
Niccole Villa Cerveny A weathering-based perspective on rock art conservation (as well as other research projects) 2005, Ph.D. Dissertation, Arizona State University Full-time Instructor, Mesa Community College
Susan Johnson Combining geography instruction with reading: Exploring the interplay in 3rd and 5th grade classrooms 2005, M.A. Thesis, Arizona State University Elementary School Teacher, Virginia
John C. Douglass Criterion approach to transverse drainages (as well as other research projects) 2005, Ph.D. Dissertation, Arizona State University Full-time instructor, Paradise Valley Community College
Kathleen Bergmann Urban impacts on Rillito Creek 2004, M.A. Thesis, Arizona State University Army Corp of Engineers
Daniel A. Gilewitch Military Geography: The Interaction of Desert Geomorphology and Military Operations 2003, Ph.D. Dissertation, Arizona State University Assistant Professor, United States Army Military Academy, West Point
Kevin A. Green Debris slope/pediment adjustment to hydraulic processes through analyses of particle size-slope relations in different lithologies 2003, M.A. Thesis, Arizona State University Ph.D. Student, University of Oregon
Rebecca S. Beard Stream channel change in response to cattle exclosures in semi-arid riparian ecosystems 2003, M.A. Thesis, Arizona State University Research Assistant, Ecuadorian Andes Land Use Change Project, University of Texas, Austin
Kathryn Anne Gross Analysis of  lateral channel stability for a portion  of New River, Arizona, Between 1964-2000 2002, M.A. Thesis, Arizona State University Hydrologist, Maricopa County Flood Control District
Evan Palmer Feasibility  and implications of a rock coating catena: Analysis of a desert hillslope 2002, M.A. Thesis, Arizona State University United States Air Force
Mike Applegarth Interpretation of pediment form using geographic information 
technology and field data
2001. Ph.D. Dissertation, Arizona State University Assistant Professor, Shippinsburg State University
Lorenzo Vazquez Selem Glacial Chronology of Iztaccihuatl Volcano, 

Central Mexico. A Record of Environmental Change on the Border of the Tropics

2000, Ph.D. Dissertation, Arizona State University Research Professor, UNIVERSIDAD NACIONAL AUTÓNOMA DE MÉXICO, Mexico City
Niccole Cerveny Relationships between internal fractures and surface microtopography of quartz grains 2000, M.A. Thesis, Arizona State University Instructor, Mesa Community College (Red Mountain)
Brandon Vogt Weathering of a tombstone sphere, Tempe, Arizona 2000, M.A. Thesis, Arizona State University Ph.D. Student Arizona State University
Michael Henze Sediment yield on Spook Hill Pediment, Arizona 2000, M.A. Thesis, Arizona State University Consultant, J.E. Fuller
Steve Gordon  An analysis of volcanic glass weathering, El Malpais National Monument, New Mexico, USA 1999, Ph.D. Dissertation, Arizona State University Assistant Professor, United States Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs 

Honored by the only civilian to receive prestigious teaching award

Donald Friend Evolution of desert colluvial boulder fields, eastern California 1997, Ph.D. Dissertation, Arizona State University Assistant Professor, Mankato State University (now Associate Professor, Minnesota State University)
Molly Pohl Radiocarbon dating in drylands 1995, M.A. Thesis, Arizona State University NSF Graduate Fellow, Ph.D. Student at Arizona State University; now Assistant Professor, San Diego State University
Gregory Pope A weathering boundary layer model to interpret spatial variation in quartz weathering 1994, Ph.D. Dissertation, Arizona State University Assistant (now Associate) Professor 
Montclair State University
Tanzhuo Liu Visual microlaminations in rock varnish: a new paleoenviron-mental and geomor-phic tool in drylands 1994, Ph.D. Dissertation, Arizona State University Research Scientist, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia University
Thomas R. Paradise Weathering-constrained erosion of sandstone at the Roman Theather, Petra Jordan 1993, Ph.D. Dissertation, Arizona State University Professor at University of Hawaii at Hilo; now Professor at University of Arkansas
Thad Wasklewicz Importance of environment on basalt weathering, Hawaii 1992, M.A. Thesis Arizona State University Ph.D. Student at Arizona State University; now Professor at University of Memphis

SERVICE ACTIVITIES

Because intelligence and hierarchy do not mix well, professors try to maintain a system of distributed responsibility to ensure that a department's mission is not only met, but exceeded. This "service" takes different forms, based on desires and abilities of different faculty members. In my case, most of my service activity rests in helping coordinate and assist K-12 geography education in Arizona as co-coordinator of the Arizona Geographic Alliance.
 

ADVISING RESPONSIBILITIES

Officially, I advise those interested in receiving a B.A.E. degree in geographic education (please click here to see a PDF of the Geography BAE check sheet) and honors students in geography.  I am also very happy to discuss classes, careers and and other matters related to geography and education.  For advising, please stop by during office hours or, even better, e-mail me to make an appointment at ronald.dorn@asu.edu.
 

My FAVORITE Book: Cave Paintings and the Human Spirit: The Origin of Creativity and Belief (Amazon link)
    Listen to this NPR interview of Dr. David Whitley.

My FAVORITE DISCOVERY: Desert Pavement Formation from Accumulation of Aeolian Fines

Mabbutt, J.A. 1979. Pavements and Patterned Ground in the Australian Stony Deserts. Stuttgarter Geographische Studien, volume 93, p. 107-123
p. 112-3: "Very commonly an aeolian origin is postulated for the silty clays which commonly constitute the stone-free horizons beneath stone pavement sin the Australian deserts.  This is in accord with their size-grading, in which they resemble other deposits of acknowledged aeolian origin in arid south-eastern Australia (BUTLER 1956), and with their uniformity and great extent over the southern Australian arid zone.  A transportational origin is suggested by the way in which they uniformly blanket a wide range of country rocks, including many which could not have weathered into residual clays; on the other hand, they extend unbroken over tablelands and uplands in a way that excludes fluvial or lacustrine deposition.  On the ridges of the northern Barrier Range of western New South Wales for example, mantles of this type rest with abrupt unconcormity on little weathered sandstone, quartzite and dolomitic limestone alike (MABBUTT et al. 1973) ...  It is that windborne dust may have been trapped by the surface stone, which was then displaced upwards pari passu with accumulation, by relatively shallow wetting and drying as demonstrated experimentally.  Under this reasoning the existence of a rough stone pavement may have been a factor in the accumulation of the sediment now underlying it.


GEOMORPHOLOGY LINKS

Fabulous Resource for Bibliographic Work: http://www.asu.edu/refworks/

VML (Varnish Microlaminations) Dating Lab, the best place to date your rock varnish: http://www.vmldatinglab.com/.

Outstanding Geomorphology Class, Geological Sciences at ASU - http://www.public.asu.edu/~arrows/geomorph/geomorphology.html

Association of American Geographers  -  http://www.aag.org
and Geomorphology Specialty Group Homepage  -  http://www.cla.sc.edu/geog/gsgdocs

American Geophysical Union   -  http://earth.agu.org/kosmos/homepage.html
British Geomorphological Research Group  -  http://boris.qub.ac.uk/bgrg

And the BGRG Useful Websites and Links page in Geomorphology
Canadian Geomorphological Research Group  -  http://office.geog.uvic.ca/dept/cgrg/cgrg.htm
European Union of Geosciences  -  http://eost.u-strasbg.fr/EUG
Geological Society of America  -  http://www.geolsociety.org
  and Quarternary Geology and Geomorphology Division ? GSA  - http://www.ocean.odu.edu
International Association of Geomorphologists  -  http://www.homepage.montana.edu/~ueswl/geomorphlist/index.htm
International Association of Sedimentologists  -  http://www.blackwell-science.com/uk/society/ias
International Union for Quaternary Research  -  http://inqua.nlh.no
 

A Favorite Thinker - Horace Walpole 

• Thought to have coined the term serendipity
• "I have often said, and oftener think, that this world is a comedy to those that think, a tragedy to those that feel – a solution of why Democritus laughed and Heraclitus wept."
• “To act with common sense according to the moment, is the best wisdom I know; and the best philosophy is to do one's duties, take the world as it comes, submit respectfully to one's lot; bless the goodness that has given us so much happiness with it..."
• “The whole secret of life is to be interested in one thing profoundly and in a thousand things well.”
• “We learn the rope of life by untying its knots.”
• “Your only obligation in any lifetime is to be true to yourself.”
• “Life is the first gift, love is the second, and understanding the third”
• “Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened.”
• Enjoy this wonderfully entertaining book.

Other Favorites

• Favorite song: This land is your land.
• Fantastic site on gigapans of rock art.