New chair of Department of Geological and Atmospheric Sciences plans to excel program


Jackie Norman/Iowa State Daily

From Central Michigan University, Sven Morgan comes to Iowa State as a new professor and new chair of the Department of Geological and Atmospheric Sciences.

Brittany Bolerjack

“Dynamic” is what comes to the mind of Sven Morgan when asked what he liked about Iowa State.

A newly hired professor and chair for the Department of Geological and Atmospheric Sciences, Morgan has been in the Ames area for almost two months, arriving just a week before classes started.

“It’s been a challenge moving here so late in the year,” Morgan said, but he is looking forward to the new challenges that lay ahead of him.

Morgan has been busy since the start of this semester as he learns how the department operates. He is hoping to restart his research sometime in the coming weeks.

His research focuses on the plumbing systems to volcanoes, like the one in Yellowstone National Park.

“Yellowstone’s magma chamber is filled with liquid magma that swells and expands creating small earthquakes. Every half a million years it erupts,” Morgan said. 

He is also planning on teaching a class next year after he is settled in. Morgan wants to continue working on a chapter for a science reference book he has been writing.

Central Michigan University is where Morgan gained experience before coming to Iowa State, and he hopes to use that to make a more cohesive department.

“It’s somewhat difficult to bring meteorologists and geologists together,” Morgan said.

Since both are an environmental science, he hopes that the two programs can work together. He was able to accomplish this at Central Michigan and wants to do it again at Iowa State.

The biggest difference between Central Michigan and Iowa State is how research focused Iowa State is. That appealed to Morgan, since he has his own research that he works on.

The programs, Geology, Earth Science and Meteorology, are much bigger here and the faculty is double the size than at Central Michigan University.

“I think I bring new ideas and new energy to the department. I’m not restricted by the old model of how the department was run,” Morgan said.

He wants to give the department new ideas. Sven will have new ways to manage the issues that come up during the year.

“The department hasn’t had an outside chair come into the department in 40 or 50 years. I think he will bring a fresh perspective to the department,” said William Gallus, a current professor for the meteorology department. “[Morgan] has a very neutral position that can help us with issues that may come up between the two different programs.”

Since becoming chair, Morgan has been meeting faculty members beginning at the start of this academic year. His goal is to find out what other faculty members are researching and what their priorities are.

Morgan wants to know what problems they think are happening and how he can help them. He is working on creating an agenda to better be able to help faculty with their goals.