2013's Outstanding Academic Title by Choice Current Reviews for Academic Libraries

Placing AnimalJulie Urbanik’s book Placing Animals has been named an Outstanding Academic Title for 2013 by Choice Current Reviews for Academic Libraries. Such a designation puts Julie’s book in the top 10% of more than 7000 titles reviewed for 2013. The Choice website states:

Every year in the January issue, in print and online, Choice publishes a list of Outstanding Academic Titles that were reviewed during the previous calendar year. This prestigious list reflects the best in scholarly titles reviewed by Choice and brings with it the extraordinary recognition of the academic library community.

The list is quite selective: it contains approximately ten percent of some 7,000 works reviewed in Choice each year. Choice editors base their selections on the reviewer's evaluation of the work, the editor's knowledge of the field, and the reviewer's record. The list was known as Outstanding Academic Books until 2000. The new name reflects an increase in reviews of electronic products and Internet sites.

In awarding Outstanding Academic Titles, the editors apply several criteria to reviewed titles:
  • overall excellence in presentation and scholarship
  • importance relative to other literature in the field
  • distinction as a first treatment of a given subject in book or electronic form
  • originality or uniqueness of treatment
  • value to undergraduate students
  • importance in building undergraduate library collections

The feature list cites only bibliographic information. The number and publication issue of the Choice review are also provided, to assist readers wishing detailed evaluations of the titles. In addition, Choice Reviews Online tags all reviews that have been designated as Outstanding Academic Titles.


John Fleeger named Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science

John FleegerJohn Fleeger of the Department of Geosciences and the Environmental Studies Program of the University of Missouri at Kansas City has been named a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Election as an AAAS Fellow is an honor bestowed upon AAAS members by their peers.

This year 388 members have been awarded this honor by AAAS because of their scientifically or socially distinguished efforts to advance science or its applications. New Fellows will be presented with an official certificate and a gold and blue (representing science and engineering, respectively) rosette pin on Saturday, 15 February at the AAAS Fellows Forum during the 2014 AAAS Annual Meeting in Chicago.

Dr. Fleeger received his PhD from the University of South Carolina in 1977. Before he joined UMKC in 2010, he was the George Kent Distinguished Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at Louisiana State University where he was on the faculty for 33 years. Dr. Fleeger was recognized by AAAS for “distinguished contributions in the field of marine benthic ecology, particularly for meiofaunal ecology, molecular taxonomy and harpacticoid copepods, and ecotoxicology”.

The tradition of AAAS Fellows began in 1874. Currently, members can be considered for the rank of Fellow if nominated by the steering groups of the Association’s 24 sections, or by any three Fellows who are current AAAS members (so long as two of the three sponsors are not affiliated with the nominee’s institution), or by the AAAS chief executive officer. Fellows must have been continuous members of AAAS for four years by the end of the calendar year in which they are elected.

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) is the world’s largest general scientific society, and publisher of the journal, Science ( as well as Science Translational Medicine ( and Science Signaling ( AAAS was founded in 1848, and includes 261 affiliated societies and academies of science, serving 10 million individuals. Science has the largest paid circulation of any peer-reviewed general science journal in the world, with an estimated total readership of 1 million. The non-profit AAAS ( is open to all and fulfills its mission to “advance science and serve society” through initiatives in science policy; international programs; science education; and more. For the latest research news, log onto EurekAlert!,, the premier science-news Web site, a service of AAAS.


UMatters Featured Faculty: Dr. Tina Niemi

Tina Niemi, Ph.D., is a professor in the Department of Geosciences. She has been at UMKC since 1995. Dr. Niemi served as editor of GEOLOGY, a prestigious international journal published by the Geological Society of American. She holds a State of Missouri Board of Professional Geologist registration, advises the undergraduate geology program, and directs UMKC’s Geoarchaeology and Paleoseismology Lab.

Dr. Niemi

Dr. Niemi received her B.A. in geology and archaeology from The College of Wooster, a small liberal arts college in Ohio. She received her M.S. and Ph.D. in geology from Stanford University where she studied the paleoenvironment of an archaeological site in Greece and the earthquake history of the San Andreas Fault in northern California. She held a two-year post doctoral fellowship in the Geophysics Department at Tel Aviv University where she studied the Dead Sea. Among Dr. Niemi’s research specialties are neotectonics, Quatermary geology, sedimentology, and Near Eastern archaelogy. Her recent research has concentrated on quantifying the hazards of the Dead Sea fault in Jordan and Israel, and the record of hurricanes and climate change in the Bahamas. She has supervised ten master’s students, three interdisciplinary PhDs, and 16 undergraduate research projects. [more...]

For more CV background about Dr. Niemi and to read her answers to UMatters interview questions, click on "more" above.


Sustainability Minor

Students prepare for green jobs with new Sustainablity Minor

Students collect water samples

Students collect water samples for an Environmental Studies laboratory. The laboratory is part of UMKC's new Sustainability Minor, which integrates several fields of study.


With President Barack Obama planning to create 5 million green jobs and the Federal government funding a Kansas City Climate Sustainability Center, the University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC) is searching for additional ways to prepare students for green-collar jobs. Adding to UMKC’s green arsenal of sustainability-focused courses, 80-plus member Sustainability Team, Clean Commute bicycle program, LEED-certified construction projects and an energy savings plan that will save about $1.6 million each year – students from all areas of study can  The 18-hour minor integrates a wide range of fields, including geosciences, engineering, ethics, urban planning and design, economics, history, philosophy, political science and public administration. Through in-class lectures and a local environmental sustainability internship, the minor will teach students about the planning and policies involved in creating sustainable changes in an urban setting.

“Sustainability is not just a buzz word,” said Molly Davies, Associate Professor of Geosciences and Director of UMKC’s Environmental Studies Program. “It is a perspective and academic area critical to our future, and it is an area that unifies the natural and social sciences. There is significant growth and demand for employment in this field worldwide.” [more...]


Dr. Richard J. Gentile, Emeritus Professor of Geosciences

Rare treasures


Dr. Gentile

Richard J. Gentile, Ph.D. explains how a "lightening rock" is formed.

Richard J. Gentile, Ph.D., is proof that the love of teaching need not end with retirement.

Gentile’s faculty position combined two of his favorite things – students and rocks. As a Department of Geosciences emeritus professor and volunteer museum curator and docent, he continues to enjoy this rewarding mix, showing thousands of visitors through the Geosciences Museum in Flarsheim Hall, Room 271.

The museum opened in 1973, when Dr. Richard L. Sutton and UMKC Professor Eldon J. Parizek – Gentile’s predecessors – assembled much of the collection and display units. Sutton, a dermatologist, was an adjunct geology instructor who gave his personal collection of cephalopods (squid-like ocean dwellers) and fluid inclusions (rocks containing liquids) to the museum. An interactive feature allows viewers to tip the clear quartz and watch the trapped primordial water move.

In Gentile’s domain, hundreds of minerals, fossils and ores sit in cases ringing the walls. A source of particular pride is the museum’s Crinoid collection. Crinoids, or “starfish on a stick,” were abundant in downtown Kansas City, once ringed by a shallow sea. [more...]



Blue Springs a Testing Ground for UMKC’s Urban Geography Class


Ph.D. student Nazgol Bagheri and Prof. Steven Driever

Ph.D. student Nazgol Bagheri and Prof. Steven Driever

Blue Springs is one of the metro’s increasingly populous suburbs. Just 20 miles from Kansas City’s center, the once quiet town of a few thousand people has experienced a nearly-eightfold increase in population since the 1960s.

 Now, concerned citizens and civic leaders are promoting Renew the Blue, an aggressive, citizen-driven initiative for analyzing and updating the services and amenities that originally attracted new families and businesses to Blue Springs. In order to evaluate the efficiency of the city’s governing boards and commissions, Renew the Blue members turned to UMKC’s Urban Geography class, taught by Professor Steven Driever.

To get his students started, Driever brought urban planning professionals into the classroom. They advised the students about what to look for when examining a city’s economic and community development infrastructure.[more...]



Every Drop Counts

Every Drop Counts - The Greening of Our Sewers


A portion of Brush Creek runs through the Country Club Plaza

A portion of Brush Creek runs through the Country Club Plaza.

By Dr. Deb O'Bannon, Associate Professor of Civil Engineering at UMKC School of Computing and Engineering

Engineers design useful things, and more specifically, civil engineers design projects that benefit the general public. So, getting deeply involved in Kansas City’s stormwater and combined sewer solution was a natural extension of my role as a UMKC civil engineering professor. Together with representatives from the general public and the Kansas City Water Services Department, I participated as a local expert, along with UMKC’s Dr. Ray Coveney, UMKC Professor of Geosciences, on the Wet Weather Community Panel. The panel, which met from September 2003 to December 2008, discussed possible engineering solutions for local weather-related problems, especially problems affecting residents and business owners. Solutions to correct or reduce the effects of combined sewer overflows can be expensive and extremely inconvenient. Digging up every street to install separate stormwater and sewer pipes is a terrible disruption to residents and businesses, and has other hidden complications because of buried utilities. More traditional solutions, which will also be employed in Kansas City, include larger pipes, underground storage and increased capacity at the wastewater treatment plant, which are termed “grey solutions,” referring to the concrete and steel.  [more...]

Contact Us

Department of Geosciences
University of Missouri-Kansas City

Administrative Assistant
Megan Medley
Tel: 816.235.6081

Dr. Wei Ji

5100 Rockhill Road
Kansas City, Missouri  64110

Tel:   816.235.1334
Fax:  816.235.5535


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