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Geosciences Faculty Member Named A Piper Professor Of 2019

The prestigious honor recognizes outstanding educators in Texas universities.
By Leslie Lee, Texas A&M University College of Geosciences May 14, 2019

Dean of Faculties Dr. Heather Wilkinson, Geology and Geophysics Professor Dr. Rick Giardino, and Dean of the College of Geosciences Dr. Debbie Thomas
Associate Dean of Faculties Dr. Heather Wilkinson, Geology and Geophysics Professor Dr. Rick Giardino, and Dean of the College of Geosciences Dr. Debbie Thomas. (Photo by Chris Mouchyn, Texas A&M Geosciences)

Dr. Rick Giardino, professor in the Texas A&M University Department of Geology and Geophysics, in the College of Geosciences, has been named a Piper Professor of 2019.

The Minnie Stevens Piper Foundation awards 10 Piper Professorships annually to Texas professors for superior teaching at the college level.

Texas A&M Associate Dean of Faculties Dr. Heather Wilkinson and Dean of the College of Geosciences Dr. Debbie Thomas recently presented the honor to Giardino.

“Dr. Giardino is a genuinely gifted, innovative, and ingenious classroom instructor,” Thomas said. “He is an impeccably generous mentor for each and every student who crosses his path, as well as every faculty and staff member. Furthermore, Dr. Giardino has leveraged his critical, high-level leadership positions to influence the educational mission of the entire university.”

“We stand in humility and gratitude in viewing the dedicated teaching talent in Texas higher education,” reads the foundation’s 2019 award announcement. Each year, universities throughout the state nominate outstanding and dedicated educators.

Giardino’s remarkable career and leadership have impacted countless students and educators, university officials said. He has previously served in leadership as department head, and dean of graduate studies and he currently serves as chair of the Water Management and Hydrological Science Program. In addition to teaching geology and geomorphology since 1972, Giardino has conducted research around the world. He is also a fellow of the Geological Society of America and the British Royal Geographical Society.

“Dr. Giardino is a true leader and all that he has done to improve STEM education for all Texans, and his perpetual and continual efforts to do more and inspire more, distinguish Dr. Giardino from our other gifted educators,” Thomas said. “And we can quantify his impact on the quality of education and life for the state of Texas. Dr. Giardino’s collective efforts quite literally have benefitted hundreds of thousands of K-16+ students – and counting!”

Giardino has been involved with teacher education for many years, and developed and established G-Camp, a 20-day field camp for 5th – 12th grade science teachers.

G-Camp has hosted more than 300 teachers over the last decade, impacting more than 100,000 students. Each summer’s itinerary gives attendees an unforgettable experience, including adventures everywhere from the slopes of volcanoes, to the footwalls of faults, in the depths of glacial valleys, on the toes of landslides, and in pristine streams and ancient marine deposits – experiences that then infuse the teachers’ lesson plans and teaching with invaluable first-hand knowledge, college officials noted.

“Dr. Giardino is one of the true heroes of higher education in Texas, and generations of Texans have benefited and continue to benefit from his insight, creativity, leadership and generous mentorship,” Thomas said.

Award recipients receive a $5,000 stipend and a lifetime designation as a Piper Professor. Begun in 1958, the roster of Piper Professors includes outstanding professors from two and four-year colleges and universities, public and private.

Media contacts: Leslie Lee, College of Geosciences, (979) 845-0910, or Robyn Blackmon, College of Geosciences, (979) 845-6324,

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