In the summer of 1982, a young marine geologist arrived in Tulsa to begin her new role as an assistant professor. Janet Haggerty had just completed a doctorate in geology and geophysics at the University of Hawaii, researching ancient marine environments and projects related to carbonate petrology. She joined The University of Tulsa’s College of Engineering and Natural Sciences and later became its first tenured female faculty member.
A pioneer in marine research
TU’s Department of Geosciences offered Haggerty the opportunity not only to teach and conduct research, but also to participate in pioneering voyages to uncover secrets of the ocean floor. During her first semester at TU, Haggerty set sail on the South Pacific for six weeks to study carbonate sedimentology. The following spring, she embarked on an eight-week Atlantic expedition, returning to campus after each trip with core samples, photographs, notes, briefings and other information useful to her students.
“I loved working with the students in the classroom and the lab,” Haggerty said. “Both undergraduates and graduate students did research with me. That’s what put a smile on my face and watching them learn was pretty exciting.”
Those first few expeditions were just the beginning for Haggerty, who spent the next three decades building her career as a marine geologist, sedimentologist and professor. She traveled aboard ships such as the Atlantis II and conducted groundbreaking research sponsored by major organizations, including the National Science Foundation, the Office of Naval Research, the U.S. Geological Survey, the Deep Sea Drilling Project and the Ocean Drilling Program. Haggerty also participated in dives on the U.S. Navy’s Alvin and NR-1, submergence-research vehicles that traveled miles deep into an underwater world of mystery and beauty. She also was one of the first women to serve as an American co-chief for the international drilling programs, and she led the first drilling expedition where both co-chiefs were women.
“My research involved working with a lot of core materials and dredge samples, researching tectonism of passive and active margins as well as mid-plate settings. This involved studying the geochemistry of sediment fluids, discovering cold-fluid seeping chimneys on serpentinite seamounts in the Marianas and testing Darwin’s theory of the formation of atolls and guyots,” she said.
Serving students and faculty in the Graduate School
In 1990, Haggerty assumed the roles of associate dean of TU’s Graduate School and associate director of research. This move was an opportunity to learn more about TU’s disciplines and serve a greater population of students and faculty. As the Graduate School’s roster of programs expanded, Haggerty established the university’s annual research colloquium in 1998 and assisted in the creation of TU’s Graduate Student Association. Haggerty also served on the Joint Oceanographic Institutions’ U.S. Science Advisory Committee and helped TU earn its Carnegie classification. She was later named vice provost for research and dean of the Graduate School. A sound leader dedicated to student and faculty achievement, she has contributed to the Graduate School’s current 92% retention rate.
“I’m fortunate to have the success I’ve experienced with my research and teaching,”￼￼ she said. “Bringing out the best in the students is special to me, and I enjoyed collaborating with colleagues as a member of a team.”
A teacher at heart
In addition to helping students navigate graduate studies and their next steps in life, Haggerty assisted faculty with professional development, setting up laboratories, placing acquisitions and supporting interdisciplinary research. “It’s wonderful to be able to help people reach their goals and succeed in education,” she said.
Haggerty stepped down as vice provost for research and dean of the Graduate School in May and will spend the next year on sabbatical, closing out projects in her Keplinger Hall lab. She plans to transition into retirement but has not completely ruled out the possibility of teaching again. Originally from Pennsylvania, Haggerty never anticipated she would find her calling in Oklahoma. Tulsa is about as far as one can get from the exotic oceans of her marine research, but it is where she and her family – husband (also a geologist) and two sons – plan to stay once she completes her TU service.