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September 20, 2005
Contact: Steven D. Sloan KU doctoral student.

KU doctoral geophysics student receives $2,000 SIPES Foundation Award

LAWRENCE -- Steven D. Sloan, University of Kansas doctoral student in geophysics from Shannon, Miss., has received a $2,000 scholarship award from the SIPES Foundation that administers the scientific, educational and charitable programs of the Society of Independent Professional Earth Scientists.

Sloan's scholarship was among eight provided this year by the SIPES Foundation of Dallas. The foundation awarded $12,250 in scholarships to outstanding upper-division or graduate-level earth science university students, including three $2,000 awards and five $1,250 scholarships.

A graduate of Shannon (Miss.) High School, Sloan received a bachelor's degree in environmental geology from Millsaps College, Jackson, Miss. He is completing work on a master's degree in geophysics at KU. His parents are John and Lynn Estes, Shannon, and Bill and Joyce Sloan of Long Beach, Miss. After completing doctoral studies, Steven Sloan plans a career in environmental geophysics, either in private industry or a government agency.

For his master's and doctoral studies, Sloan's KU faculty adviser is Don Steeples, Dean McGee distinguished professor of applied geophysics and vice provost for scholarly support. Sloan's KU doctoral project involves developing less costly ways to collect three-dimensional (3-D) shallow seismic data to better solve subsurface environmental or engineering problems - often encountered when drilling for oil, for example. Sloan wants to figure out how to hasten and automate the 3-D imaging equipment setup to reduce time in the field yet enable the collection of more thorough data.

Already the seismic reflection method is commonly used to find oil or gas deposits such as coal-bed methane exploration in eastern Kansas. For example, shallow or near-surface seismology can be capable of imaging depths to a range of 650 to 700 feet. He's working with noninvasive techniques that do not involve actually drilling a well.

Sloan's research aims at streamlining the information gathering process for subsurface land features in order to characterize the nature of the geology, particularly its structure and stratigraphy. Among the numerous ways the information could be used is to locate sinkholes under roadways, to pinpoint a spot where hazardous materials might have pooled underground, to document how a waterway changes after an earthquake or to alert site planners about design problem areas.

Other SIPES award winners were from the Colorado School of Mines, Mississippi State University, University of Oklahoma, University of Texas in Austin and University of Texas in Dallas.

The Society of Professional Earth Scientists is a national organization of more than 1,300 self-employed geologists, geophysicists and engineers engaged primarily in domestic energy exploration. Funding for the 2005 SIPES awards came through members' donations; a bequest from the estate of Marvolene Speed Bennett, widow the society's founding member, Carleton D. Speed Jr.; the Stephen E. Collins Memorial Scholarship Fund; and the Edward A. McCullough Endowed Fund.


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