Faculty Focus-Eric Horsman
On May 18, 1980, Eric Horsman was a boy living in southeastern Washington state. He recalls the day. “One of my earliest memories was Mount St. Helens erupting in 1980,” he said recently. “I remember waking up. You could see the volcano perfectly from where we lived. It looked like snow in our front yard. I remember shoveling it with my dad.”
That may not sound so bad but in fact it was the largest volcanic event in U.S. history. Fifty-seven people died. Entire glaciers melted from the mountain, creating the largest landslide in recorded human history. The entire north face of the crater collapsed. Ash fell not just in Horsman’s yard but across 11 states. Horsman is an associate professor of geology at East Carolina University who studies volcanoes – extinct ones. He has a bachelor’s in geology from Rice University and a master’s and doctorate in geology from the University of Wisconsin. He arrived at ECU in 2010.
At ECU, he’s received more than $440,000 in National Science Foundation and other external funding. He’s been a primary or co-investigator on more than 15 journal articles and made dozens of other publications and presentations. He supervises five graduate students, four of whom are researching topics related to volcanoes.
“Overall, the study of volcanoes is an important field in geology and earth science, as it helps us to better understand the complex processes that shape our planet,” he said. “What’s happening at the subsurface a mile or two down, that’s what’s driving the eruption at the surface.”
Horsman noted that one of the main hypotheses about where life originated is near volcanoes at the bottom of the ocean. In addition, volcanoes are sources of economic minerals. They directly or indirectly produce or host deposits of aluminum, diamonds, gold, nickel, lead, zinc and copper — vital minerals people and industries use every day.
“Even if you aren’t living next to a volcano, the systems are important,” he said.
– Doug Boyd
Megan Perry, a professor of anthropology at ECU, has been selected for the Thomas W. Rivers Distinguished Professorship for International Studies in the Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences. Perry will hold the professorship through the 2023-2024 academic year and has the opportunity to be reappointed for additional terms. Perry has taught at ECU since 2003 and specializes in biological anthropology, bioarchaeology, forensic anthropology and the Near East.
Dr. Jason Higginson, executive dean of the Brody School of Medicine and chief health officer for ECU Health, has taken command of the U.S. Navy Reserve’s Navy Medicine Readiness and Training Command in Bethesda, Maryland. It’s a two-year assignment during which Higginson — who joined the Reserve in 2012 after 13 years of active duty — will oversee a pool of physicians, nurses and other health care professionals who are available for the Navy to deploy for worldwide contingency support.
Todd Fraley was named dean of the Honors College in April. He had served as interim dean since June 2022. Fraley joined ECU in 2004 as an assistant professor in the School of Communication. In 2014, he became director of the Brinkley-Lane Scholars program and associate dean of the Honors College in 2017. Fraley will also hold the Bill and Emily Furr Honors College Distinguished Professorship, established through a donation from the Furrs along with matching funds from the UNC System Board of Governors’ Distinguished Professorship Endowment Trust Fund.
Brandon A. Frye has joined ECU as vice chancellor for student affairs. He previously served as vice president for student affairs at Stephen F. Austin State University in Texas. A first-generation college student, Frye has also worked at the University of West Florida, Auburn University and the University of Georgia. Frye has a doctorate in student affairs administration from the University of Georgia and a master’s degree in student development and a bachelor’s degree in history and secondary education from Appalachian State University.
Tarek Abdel-Salam, a professor of engineering and associate dean for research in the College of Engineering and Technology, has been elected as an associate fellow in the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. Abdel-Salam received recognition in January from the AIAA board of trustees and membership during the 2023 AIAA SciTech Forum in National Harbor, Maryland. Associate fellows are members “who have accomplished or been in charge of important engineering or scientific work, or who have done original work of outstanding merit, or who have otherwise made outstanding contributions to the arts, sciences or technology of aeronautics or astronautics,” according to the organization.