LAWRENCE — University Distinguished Professor Rolfe Mandel has been named interim director of the Kansas Geological Survey. Mandel, who also serves as senior scientist and executive director of the Odyssey Geoarchaeology Research Program at KGS, replaces Rex Buchanan, who retired at the end of September.
Mandel’s history with KU spans more than 30 years, holding positions at KU’s former Institute for Social and Environmental Studies until 1986. He subsequently maintained a close collaboration with KU while working in private industry. Mandel returned to KU in 2002 as project coordinator for the Geoarchaeology Research Program at KGS. In 2003, Mandel became the executive director of Odyssey, an endowed KU geoarchaeology research program housed at KGS, and he joined KU faculty as an associate professor in the Department of Anthropology. He was named a university distinguished professor in 2014.
While at KU, Mandel has received nearly $1.2 million in external funding in support of his research and was integral to bringing the Odyssey Geoarchaeology Research Program to KGS. He received the KU Endowment Higuchi/Irvin E. Youngberg Award for Applied Sciences Research in 2012, and he has been recognized by KU for outstanding teaching and graduate mentorship. Mandel has held national and international leadership positions, and he currently chairs the U.S. National Committee for Quaternary Research, which represents the U.S. in major national and international policy issues, such as climate change and water resources. He was elected as a fellow of the Geological Society of America in 2003 and is a recipient of two of their most prestigious awards for excellence and contributions to the field. He has published extensively, with more than 100 peer-reviewed journal articles, book chapters and technical reports.
Mandel’s academic background includes a bachelor’s degree in geography from the University of Texas at Austin and a master’s degree in geology from KU. He received a doctorate in special studies quaternary research from KU's Department of Geology in 1991.
"Rolfe Mandel is an internationally recognized geosciences researcher with a strong record of leadership," said Jim Tracy, vice chancellor for research. “Rolfe is an excellent choice to bring constructive and effective leadership to the KGS.”
The survey has a statewide research and service mission. It is based at KU and is part of the Office of Research. Its work focuses primarily on the state's groundwater supply, geologic mapping, assessment of geologic hazards and enhanced production of energy. The survey is located in KU's west district, and it also operates an oil and gas well sample library in Wichita.
A national search will begin for the next state geologist and director of the Kansas Geological Survey.