Howard Mooers' research interests are primarily in glacial geology
and hydrogeology, but not all of his interests are earthbound. In addition
to his position as the Robert L. Heller Professor in Geology, he is director
of the Marshall W. Alworth Planetarium. He is also director of UMD's
Honors Program and a former department head in Geological Sciences.
The Robert L. Heller Professor in Geology is named for the late
Robert Heller who founded the UMD Geological Sciences department and
later become Chancellor of UMD. It was established in the late 1980s by
generous donations from alumni and friends of Robert Heller.
Today the fund has grown significantly and provides salary support for
the Department of Geological Sciences. Endowed faculty positions allow
departments to recruit the best and brightest faculty. By providing salary
and other support for faculty, the endowments also allow departments
flexibility in their normal budgets. Mooers, like other endowed professors,
has a tremendous impact on students. He has supervised the completion
of 24 master of science and Ph.D. degrees, as well as 33 undergraduate
research projects. He has also played a pivotal role in the formation of
the Environmental Studies and the Environmental Science majors and the
astronomy and natural history minor programs.
Mooers takes great pride in the Marshall W. Alworth Planetarium
which recently underwent an extensive renovation. It now features new
seats, full-dome video, surround sound, and digital lighting. Gifts from
friends and patrons of the planetarium helped support the renovation and
are still being sought to help with continued upgrades. Mooers notes that
since the planetarium opened in 1967, it has entertained and educated
some 300,000 people. In 2010 alone, over 10,000 people visited, many
getting their fist vivid glimpse of the cosmos.