New chairs in BYU College of Physical, Mathematical Sciences


Dean Scott D. Sommerfeldt of the College of Physical and Mathematical Sciences at Brigham Young University recently announced the appointment of two new department chairs, effective July 1, 2013.

John H. McBride was named the new chair of the Department of Geological Sciences, with Michael J. Dorais serving as associate chair. McBride takes over from Scott M. Ritter, who served for six years and is now returning to full-time teaching and research.

Richard R. Vanfleet is now chair of the Department of Physics and Astronomy with Grant W. Hart serving as associate chair. VanFleet replaces Ross L. Spencer, who served as chair for six years and is now returning to faculty status.

McBride obtained bachelor’s degrees in both mathematics and geology as well as a master’s degree in geology from the University of Arkansas. He completed a doctorate in geological sciences in 1987 from Cornell University.

He was employed in the petroleum industry for four years working at Amoco International Oil Company and Shell Offshore, Inc.  He then accepted a faculty research position at the University of Cambridge working with the British Institutions Reflection Profiling Syndicate.

He later accepted a position with the Illinois State Geological Survey working as a senior geophysicist prior to joining BYU’s Department of Geological Sciences in 2002.

His research experience includes the acquisition, processing and interpretation of geophysical data, particularly waveform data, with a specialty in the application of seismic reflection methods to the study of the structure, composition and deformation history of the earth’s crust and upper mantel.

Vanfleet received his bachelor’s degree in physics from BYU in 1992. He earned both a master’s and a doctoral degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1994 and 1997, respectively. Following his education, Vanfleet worked as a postdoctoral research associate at Cornell University in the School of Applied and Engineering Physics.

Following his post-doc at Cornell, he worked as an assistant professor at the University of Central Florida before joining BYU’s Department of Physics and Astronomy in 2003. His current research focuses on atomic and near-atomic scale studies of materials by transmission electron microscopy.

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