Dave Moecher’s Hot Granite Research Featured in RCTF Annual Report
By Alicia Gregory
Video by REVEAL Research Media
(Feb. 22, 2016) — Recruiting and retaining outstanding faculty is an integral part of the mission of the University of Kentucky’s Research Challenge Trust Fund, and each year the university highlights four outstanding endowed chairs and professors. This year’s annual report, approved by the UK Board of Trustees Feb. 19, featured Dave Moecher, Earth and Environmental Sciences Alumni Professor.
Moecher is chair of the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences in the UK College of Arts and Sciences. “I work on the history and evolution of the earth’s crust: where it came from, how it formed,” says Moecher, who studies the Appalachian mountain chain which extends across the Atlantic Ocean to Norway. “The irony is that my students and I work on mountain belts — we work on the scale of continents — but then we analyze tiny mineral grains that might be a hundred microns across. But each of those mineral grains has in it the history of that mountain belt.”
Moecher has two active National Science Foundation grants totaling $410,000, and he is studying how unusually hot granites were formed 1 billion years ago. “First of all, we have to prove that there were very hot crustal conditions, but then we have to come up with a very large-scale model for why a certain part of the crust was exceptionally hot in earth’s history. From an earth history context, it’s interesting and compelling. But from a more practical aspect, these types of granites are granites in which ore deposits occur. We use ore deposits for all of the materials in our society.”
Moecher earned his doctorate in geology at the University of Michigan, then spent one year as a National Research Council Fellow at the U.S. Geological Survey. He was a research associate at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, before coming to UK in 1991. He has authored 50 peer-reviewed papers and four field guides.
“I feel I need to acknowledge the alumni who helped create this professorship back in the 1990s: Steve Sullivan, Will Foley, Jim Pear, and Ken Neavel. We thank them, and our many other alumni who support undergrad and graduate students in Earth and Environmental Sciences,” Moecher says.
Over the last 14 years, the “Bucks for Brains” partnership between UK’s Research Challenge Trust Fund and the Commonwealth of Kentucky has been a key component in supporting the innovations made by our faculty, staff and students. Since its inception, Kentucky has pledged more than $230 million in state funds to UK, which the university matched — dollar for dollar — with private funds to support the research enterprise. UK has used these funds as part of the effort to build the university’s endowment from $420.8 million in 2001 to more than $1 billion in 2015 and to create more than 300 endowed chairs and professorships across all colleges and professional schools.
For more on the Research Challenge Trust Fund visit http://www.research.uky.edu/faculty/rctf.