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Photo of Dr. Conrad Neumann, Professor Emeritus of UNC’s Marine Science Department.


Unfortunately, the conference has been canceled due to COVID-19 but will be rescheduled at some point in the future.

From the Margins to the Deep: A Tribute to the Science and Art of A. Conrad Neumann

Cosponsored by GSA Sedimentary Geology Division; GSA Marine and Coastal Geosciences Division; GSA Quaternary Geology and Geomorphology Division; Eastern Section–SEPM (Society for Sedimentary Geology); GSA Geoscience Education Division.
Blair R. Tormey, Paul J. Hearty, and Albert C. Hine.

Description: Conrad Neumann was a pioneering oceanographer and marine geologist at the forefront of research on sea-level and climate change, carbonate platforms, reefs, bioerosional notches, and biohermal mounds. This symposium welcomes abstracts related to Conrad’s research, teaching, and artistry, which left an indelible mark on these fields of endeavor.

The symposium will feature 45 of Dr. Neumann’s teaching cartoons.


Articles about Dr. Neumann

If you would like to read more about Dr. Neumann below are some memorial articles about him.

Memorial Page for Dr. Conrad Neumann

A. Conrad Neumann — One for the Ages



To see some of Dr. Neumann’s amazing work view the slideshow below


Dr. Neumann Himself

To see photos from his life and those who he was close with, view the slideshow below

2 Responses to “Honoring Dr. Conrad Neumann”

  1. Stephen K Boss

    Conrad was my mentor, friend, and advocate while I was at UNC (1989-1994). He gave me advice and counsel at important moments and inspiration/motivation when needed. I remember one of his “Conradisms” that served me well more than once at difficult times: “The brush is always thickest at the edge of the woods, and the only way out is through”. He made it possible for me to pursue the career I have and gave me confidence that I was worthy of it. I am in my 24th year at the University of Arkansas. My career has been quite different than I would have imagined – and probably than Conrad would have imagined. But it’s been an interesting career that has never been dull and I am grateful that Conrad was there to guide me and assist when it was most necessary. I miss him. A giant man with a bigger smile and those inquisitive, friendly eyes. He was a friend to everyone and a stranger to no one. He remains part of me and the professor I became. What a legacy he left. I was lucky to know him, work with him, and I am proud he was my advisor. To all at UNC and MASC, know that I am grateful for the opportunities you created and that I cherish the memories of my time in Venable Hall. You are all missed.

  2. Albert C. Hine

    Conrad Neumann
    1933 – 2019 Chilmark
    Oceanographer, Professor, Poet
    The Deep, Deep Pigment of the Mind
    Chilmark, Fishing, Oceanography, Poetry

    Everett Poole’s mother was my schoolteacher at the Chilmark School. I remember Dorothy Poole – she was a very dignified lady. And we were talking about English grammar. And with a few huffs and puffs, she stood up on her chair and then with another step, stood up on her desk. I remember her hemline for some reason. She said, “The verb ‘to be’ never takes an object.” Then she with difficulty stepped down. And she said, “You’ll never forget me telling you this.” I never have. And at Bayside High School in Long Island, where I went later on, the teacher said, “You have an exceptional knowledge of grammar. Where did you get it?” And all I could think of was “The verb ‘to be’ never takes an object.” As far as I know, it still doesn’t.
    Because I was the only boy in our class, Dorothy was smart enough to give me little chores to do. There was a big, square hot-air register that came up from a furnace. And I was given the job to go down into it and take out all the pencils and erasers and dust that had collected. So I picked the grate up and moved it aside, and I cleaned up a little bit. But it was recess time, so I left. And I left the cover off. Mrs. Adams, who was a little round lady, was pinning papers onto the walls and as she pinned – whooo! – down she went. Oh, God! My sister and I were the biggest, so we hefted her back. She thought she was on her way to the furnace. The wall of the classroom had a large crack. And the story was: A teacher threw an axe – in those days when wood stoves were the only heating, every building had axes around for splitting wood – at a bad boy, and it stuck in the wall and it cracked. And for years, all they had to do was point to the crack in the wall to get order in the classroom.
    I was born at the hospital in Oak Bluffs but lived in Chilmark, on State Road. It’s an old Vineyard house. My great, great grandfather, James Mosher, came over from Dartmouth, Massachusetts in the mid-1800s when he married Harriet Cottle. He bought the house from his father for one dollar and floated it over in pieces. James was a stone mason who did a lot of the cut-stone work here. My grandmother’s uncles all went to sea except Elihu, who was a farmer. And he was Lucy Vincent’s father. So those are my roots.
    My earliest recollection of the Island is of my grandfather. He was a very nice, gentle man. And he’d read us stories – not read, recite. I don’t think he ever finished grade school. But he had memorized poetry, mostly Longfellow. And my sister and I would sit on the arms of his chair and he’d recite. And then we’d go up to bed.
    The ‘38 Hurricane caught us by surprise. I remember the chickens went to bed and there were other signs. The sky got all colored yellowy. And the stove wasn’t behaving itself. The wind was picking up and my grandfather was kind of fussing with the damper, and cursing the storm. And so we didn’t think we were going to get our story that night. But we did, and he recited, of all things, “The Wreck of the Hesperus,” a really chilling poem about a storm. Anyway, we got upstairs and hearing the poem made the deepest impression. The deep, deep pigment of the mind. The pigments in the mind are the brightest.
    During the storm our Model A Ford had the top blown off, and so there was chicken wire up there. We drove to Menemsha and I saw a grown man cry. That stuck in my mind. I forget who it was, but his boat was demolished. And of all things, as a child, a five-year-old, I just took in the scenery of devastation without really feeling, until this man spoke with his choked voice. And that made an impression on me as a five-year-old.
    When I was older, I worked for the Wests. The town gave me 50 cents an hour or something. You know, he was a model for Tom Benton. Josie and Georgie West. I just remember them as old people. Their house had a barn and a horse, and we’d go by it on the way to school. I was hired by the town to help them get firewood. And didn’t do a very good job, because the wood pile had all rotted over the years.
    But all the boys worked. And I didn’t think of life without working. I didn’t realize that I had poetry in me, actually until high school. I wrote a poem, and I remember the teacher said – it was about the waves, and he said, “This has the rhythm of waves.” And I thought, “Well, isn’t that the way it’s supposed to?” But for a long time, I didn’t write any poetry. I could have written at sea. I spent a long time at sea.
    My poems are very much poems of place. I have a few love poems. Some of them are descriptions of the land and maybe some sort of thought arising from it. I realize how much impressions we have of a place, other than with sight. We’ve smelled damp litter in the woods, or the salt spray. I do a lot with salt spray and sounds. Like at night on the Vineyard in my little room, I used to hear the rumble – it’s not really a rumble – of the boulders on the shore like Stonewall Beach. So the surf had a sound, and the rocks had a sound. I don’t know whether that was unique to me. I’m sure other people pick up on that. And smell – I don’t smell much anymore, but I can remember smell.
    I went to high school in Vineyard Haven for two years. First, I wanted to be an artist, so it was arranged that I’d go in the studio and talk with Tom Benton. And I remember his studio. It was wonderful. In the winter, my grandfather and I, we care-took his place. And I just remember there was tempera, egg tempera – the eggs were from our chickens – and the little baby food bottles of pigment. Just beautiful.
    Tom went over to Europe and came back. He thought the “new stuff” over there was sissy. But that’s not the word he used. He called me “Denny” because he thought I was Denys Wortman’s son. But anyway, he said, “You can go to college and you can be an artist, but don’t go to college to be an artist.” He said, “Every broken-down old pansy that’s never sold a painting is in college teaching other people to paint.” So I steered away from art, because I had the wisdom then that you had to be very good.
    My interest in geology started as a kid, looking for fossils in Gay Head. You could clamber all over the Cliffs. And now it’s sacred land. It’s sacred because it has all these geologic mysteries, hidden within.
    Lucy Vincent, my grandmother’s cousin, was a great naturalist kind of lady. Birds and fossils. And mineral deposits. Marcasite crystals. She had shoeboxes of them. She was great. And as a librarian, she was always interested in what we were reading. If it was the National Geographic, she would come over because it had naked African ladies in it, and we always knew in what articles. So she would direct us to Boys Life. It’s raining memories.
    My beautiful mother became a show girl in New York City. And my father was an aspiring artist who went to Pratt Institute. And apparently, he was a stage-door Johnny. That’s how he met my mother. So we go from the heavy whaling family on my mother’s side, over here to my father. I would like to have known him better. But he was pretty depressed. He was a camouflage artist during the war. So he went from a Pratt Institute lah-de-dah-artist to a regular house painter. He died in his fifties, in Taunton. He had a nervous breakdown, and in those days there weren’t many of these pills and things. So that’s a downer in my life.
    But we had a nice family community here. My grandmother rented cottages. They were rented by artists and writers and teachers. At our house we had a telephone. We had a kerosene stove. I have a poem or two about the house.
    Anyway, we had soldiers nearby at Peaked Hill during the war, and my grandmother would ask them where they lived, and what their addresses were, and then write a letter to their parents saying they were well. She spent a lot of time with the war effort, penning letters. My mother worked at the USO. She used to bring ice cream home. And I never knew till later in life that ice cream was not runny soup; that it actually had some solidarity to it.
    Walter Manning was our friend and he kept us supplied during some lean times. We ate pretty well – swordfish and lobster. It wasn’t all the time, but he knew my mother didn’t make a lot of money. We got about $200 a summer for each of the houses. They had kerosene stoves and outhouses and a pump for water, or they took it from the spring nearby. I wish we had camps like that now. Instead we have trophy houses.
    The first trophy house that I know of was Oscar Flanders’ outhouse, where he hung his ducks, after shooting, you know? His trophies; “trophy house.”
    I looked forward to seeing the summer people because they were new and they were different, and they would leave strange foods in their house when they left, like palm hearts or something. And they were nice to me. I was probably a pest, sometimes. But we’d have to go down and dig their garbage hole and clean out the privy in the cottages that my grandmother rented out. Have you ever had to clean out a privy? Wait till the dead of winter. You can take it all out in one pitchfork.
    The first person I fished with – I think that’s when I was 13 – was Ralph Tilton. Lobstering, a dollar a day, and he told my mother, “Well, he’s getting experience.” He was cheap. But that’s all right. He also didn’t buy very much salt, because his bait stunk. My mother burned my clothes at the end of the summer.
    Carlton Mayhew was just the opposite. Generous, lovely, loving. He was a nice guy. And funny. Most of his jokes were about girls. And he was sure that I was this great lover – of course at 14, I was scared to death of girls. And he knew that, and he kind of taunted me. Funny. We’d go off about to the green buoy off Noman’s Land to fish. We were the first ones out in the morning and the last ones back at night, because he had his old chug, chug, chug engine. I’d be up on the top mast looking for swordfish. But the one time I was to steer onto a swordfish I just froze. I “gallied,” as he said. But he was nice about it.
    The summer people here, they wanted me to go to college. To me, college was summer kids, college sweatshirts. Nobody from the Island – very few – went then. Now, quite a few. Anyway, so we didn’t have any money. My mother was the town clerk in Chilmark. But the summer people said, “You know, you can go to college in New York for nothing!”
    So after two years in high school in Vineyard Haven, I transferred to go to New York to live with my father’s sisters, two old-maid aunts. And I went to Bayside High and took a program at Queens College. I took a course in geology from a young man named Ron Schmidt. And I said, “This is what I want to do. You can do science outdoors! Maybe I could even do it at sea!” I was aware of that, because I knew about Woods Hole Oceanographic and what they did.
    Carlton Mayhew was 73 and I was 14 or something like that. And I told him I was going to New York for the winter to go to school. And he had a big, bushy mustache and cigarette stain on it. And he was very funny and very … he had a little speech impediment – he’d say, “Id-ja” in between his sentences. Id-ja. I don’t know why. It was sort of like punctuation. Anyway, he said, “I don’t know much about New York, id-ja, but keep your own counsel.” And I didn’t know what that meant.
    So I was in New York a year or two later and I got a note from my guidance counselor. And Carlton’s words came back to me. I said, “I know I want to be an oceanographer. I don’t need any counseling. That’s what Carlton meant.” So I threw the thing away. I thought, “Well, that’s the last I’ll hear of it.” Then again, “See your counselor.” And then, another note. And soon I got a note from the principal, saying, “You’ve missed three appointments with your counselor.”
    My counselor had a book with plastic pages in it. And he went “obstetrician, optometrist …” but there was no oceanographer. So I wanted to say, “Oh, yes, Woods Hole Oceanographic, blah, blah …” And Carlton’s voice told me to keep my own counsel. So I realized what it meant. I’m not going to educate this man to put another page in his book. I said, “Thank you very much, sir.”
    Everybody was going off to different graduate schools when I graduated from Brooklyn College. And somebody left a graduate bulletin on the table in the lunchroom, and it had a ship on the cover. I picked it up. Texas A&M had this beautiful schooner, three masts, and had graduate courses in meteorology and oceanography. So I wrote a letter, one thing led to another and I was off.
    The culture shock, going from Martha’s Vineyard to New York City – Queens, New York – then Brooklyn and now Texas A&M, it was mind-blowing. And that was a big thing, leaving the Vineyard.
    The Jakkula was the ship they had for oceanography at Texas A&M. And I remember the engineer. Vern was his name. I think he lived on the ship. And I think he was otherwise homeless. But this kid (me) was trying to make this gadget work to get his degree. And Vern appreciated me because I came from a fishing background. He helped me get the gadget working and keep working. I don’t know what happened to Vern. But he was a real friend of mine, and regardless of professors and lectures and all that, I got my master’s degree on my data, thanks to Vern. He probably didn’t know where Martha’s Vineyard was, but he knew that I knew how to work. He related.
    That was around the time I met my wife, Jane. I was supposed to go down and do a study in Bermuda, and my professor said there was a girl that I’d like to meet. I asked about her, and he said, “Oh, she’s neurotic.” I said, “Oh. Why is she neurotic?” “Well, she goes barefoot all the time. She wears a bikini. She plays a guitar. She whistles and she won’t talk to anybody.” I forget the rest, because I was immediately very interested at this point.
    I didn’t have occasion to speak to her until we got hove to at the station off Bermuda. Well, I was trying my best charm, which is debatable, and saying all these sort of funny or charming things. And she’d look at me and listen, and say one or two words, and then just kind of go behind the wheelhouse. Quite later on, she told me she was being seasick. I was trying to impress her, and she was vomiting over the side.
    On the way back, it was a nice, calm day and I was up in the bow, and I was half asleep. And somebody kicked my foot. It was Jane. And she said, “You want some peaches?” She opened a can of peaches. And on the first date – oh, that was another story with her. We got up to the steps of her apartment, she was on a second story, and I was kind of puckered up for a kiss. And she closed the screen door. So she saw me standing there, and she put her lips up against the screen door. So our first kiss was through a screen. And I said, “This will be a strained relationship.” So that was it. That started the connection.
    I met Columbus Iselin, the director at Woods Hole, when I interviewed there after grad school. Eight years earlier, my mother had written to him about my interest in oceanography, and he had written back. So he said, “Are you the boy from Martha’s Vineyard who wanted to be an oceanographer? Did you write me a letter?” And I said, “Yes,” knowing my mother wrote the letter. He said, “Well, I guess if any boy from Martha’s Vineyard wants to be an oceanographer, we should take him on.” And I asked about a PhD, and he pointed out to Vineyard Sound and he said, “Your PhD is out there.” I’m just remembering all these sage sayings I’ve heard in my life.
    He said, “We don’t have anything on the Red Sea circulation since 1931. And we’re going over there and you could do the circulation of the Red Sea.” I said, “But I’m a geologist.” He said, “I thought you wanted to be an oceanographer.” So next thing I know, I’m in the Red Sea.
    I had a wonderful time working at WHOI. For three years I was on the old Atlantis I, and those were probably the most formative years, in some ways, to my education and work. Well, drinking was a big thing on the boat. Thinking and drinking. Went to the Red Sea, then I had another cruise to the Gulf of Cadiz where the Mediterranean empties out into the ocean. And then I had another long trip. So it wasn’t all this trading of scientists back and forth by airplane and air travel. You went on one cruise and one cruise had a theme. And you did that till it was done.
    There were about 20 of us on the boat in the Red Sea. And our very first project ended up refuting some earlier findings about the circulation. The earlier work in the 1930s pointed to wind patterns as the main influence, but we found that evaporation plays a greater role. So that was my paper. It’s been modeled, it’s been refuted, but it’s out there.
    And that was before the days of computers. We used crayons. Every oceanographer had a big box of colored pencils. We called it “Crayola oceanography.”
    Later on, I was teaching at the University of Miami. And there was a new submersible in Miami called the Aluminaut. And it was a long thing, like a big tube, with propellers on it. They wanted the heads of the departments to go down in it. And as a beginning professor at Miami, the boss gave me the job of getting these people together. As it turned out, I saw that you could use these for taking scientific observations. I ended up making 33 dives on the research submersible Alvin, and did some of the sort of pioneering work, which was nice.
    I had worked for an old Polish man when I was in New York. And he said, “People don’t believe a humorous man.” That was something I didn’t agree with. In my lectures and classes, at the universities where I taught, I tried to make little puns and say sometimes silly things. And I’d do that with scientific papers. A man came up to me in a hallway at a big meeting of the Geology Society. He said, “I don’t know anything about your field. I’m an electrical engineer. But I go to all your talks because they’re funny.” And I remember that. There’s a value to humor. When you think of something stupid, say it.
    When I was teaching, I would give a paper and make it light, because for students, it’s easier to understand. You don’t wow them with a lot of heavy words. In Paleontology at college, we had to memorize 200 fossils. I couldn’t tell you two, now. And I had to remember something like 200 minerals. Same thing. That’s not how you teach. You tell a story, and hope they remember the story.

    Interviewed 2015


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