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Aug. 19, 2008
Contact: Robert Goldstein, Department of Geology, (785) 864-2738.

KU geology graduate students win two international grant competitions

LAWRENCE — While the University of Kansas’ basketball and football teams were bringing home athletic trophies, a group of KU geology students secured four international championships in two years.

This is the second year in a row that KU students have won more grants from the Geological Society of America and the American Association of Petroleum Geologists than those at any other university.

Ten KU geology graduate students earned grants from the Geological Society of America. Penn State University finished second with eight. The society’s research grant program provides support for students conducting thesis research in the geological sciences. It is open to students at universities in the United States, Canada, Mexico and Central America. This year, 302 grants were made to students from 158 institutions.

To earn the grants, students must submit proposals, which are judged on scientific merit, practicability of the project and qualifications of the applicant. The society has a membership of more than 21,000 people from 85 countries.

“KU’s success in the competition is a fitting recognition of the quality of student work and provides a boost for the students’ professional careers,” said Robert Goldstein, the Merrill W. Haas Distinguished Professor of Geology and chair of the Department of Geology. “Our students will use the grants to complete research work in diverse areas including fossils, faults, energy and environment.”

KU’s geology graduate students also took top honors for their work in one of the most pressing research topics of the day: energy. The American Association of Petroleum Geologists supports research grants for graduate students studying energy-related issues and holds an annual competition. KU secured nine grants to take the top spot. The University of Texas finished second, with six awards. In all, the association granted 119 awards to students from 65 universities and seven countries.

Applications for the grants are judged on the applicant’s qualifications as indicated by past performance, originality and imagination of the proposal, support of the department in which the work is performed and perceived significance of the project to petroleum, energy minerals and related environmental geology.

“Considering that we are not among the larger of geology graduate programs worldwide, winning the most grants two years in a row is particularly notable and is an indication of the quality, hard work and enthusiasm of our students and faculty,” said Goldstein. “Not only are these four championships great honors, but the grants will allow a large number of our students to progress in research directions relevant to societal needs.”

Students who won grants are listed below by hometown, level in school, major, parents’ names, previous schools attended, award and description of project.

JOHNSON COUNTY
From Overland Park 66212
Travis Robert Glauser, master’s student in geology, son of John and Patty Glauser; bachelor’s degree in geology from KU, fall 2006; Shawnee Mission West High School; American Association of Petroleum Geologists Gustavus E. Archie Memorial Grant; Glauser is working on the heating and cooling history of rocks from oil and gas reservoirs from the western desert of Egypt.

SALINE COUNTY
From Salina 67401
Melissa Lee Marietta, master’s student in geology, daughter of Marilyn Marietta; bachelor’s degree in geology from KU, spring 2006; Salina South High School; Geological Society of America grant; Marietta is working on the effects of pressure-treated lumber in soils from Panama.

CALIFORNIA
From Ridgecrest 93556
Bethiah Bernice Hall, master’s student in geology; bachelor’s degree from the University of California-Santa Barbara; associate’s degree from Cerro Coso Community College, Ridgecrest, Calif.; certificate from University of California-Riverside; Geological Society of America grant; Hall is researching the Moenkopi formation in Capitol Reef National Park in Utah, concentrating on ancient deltas where sediments were deposited under the influence of high tidal ranges. These deposits produced large volumes of natural gas.

FLORIDA
From Longwood 32779
James Clifford Adamski, doctoral student in geology and owner of Adamski Geological Consulting in Longwood; bachelor’s degree in 1985 and master’s degree in 1987, both from the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville; Geological Society of America grant; Adamski is studying how bacterial remains are preserved as fossils in salt crystals hundreds of millions of years old and also is investigating whether enough genetic material is preserved for some of them to be brought back from a dormant state.

IDAHO
From American Falls 83211
Lindsay Ann Walters, master’s student in geology; bachelor’s degree in 2007 from Idaho State University, Pocatello; Geological Society of America grant and American Association of Petroleum Geologists Frank E. Kottlowski Memorial Grant; Walters is doing fieldwork in Spain on rocks that serve as direct analogs to producing oil fields around the world.

ILLINOIS
From Grayslake 60030
David John LoBue, master’s student in geology, bachelor’s degree in 2006 from Arizona State University, Tempe; Geological Society of America grant; LoBue is studying strange sedimentary environments that preserved an exceptional record of the environment from a lagoon that was more than 300 million years old.

MICHIGAN
From Milan 48160
Amanda Falk, master’s student in geology; bachelor’s degree in 2007 from Lake Superior State University, Sault Ste. Marie, Mich; Geological Society of America grant; Falk is working on fossilized footprints of ancient birds during the time of the dinosaurs.

MINNESOTA
From St. Joseph 56374
Erin Elizabeth Saupe, master’s student in geology; bachelor’s degree in 2007 from the College of St. Benedict, St. Joseph, Minn.; Geological Society of America grant; Saupe is investigating fossil spiders preserved in amber.

NEW JERSEY
From Wayne 07470
Brian Frederic Platt, doctoral student in geology, son of Fred and Joanne Platt; master’s degree in geology from KU, 2004; bachelor’s degree in 2001 from Bloomsburg University, Bloomsburg, Pa.; American Association of Petroleum Geologists grant; Platt is working on climate controls on the biology of organisms that lived in the geological past of Wyoming, and his research will help predict the distribution of pore systems in some of the nation’s most important gas reservoirs.

PENNSYLVANIA
From Meadville 16335
Jesse D. Thompson, master’s student in geology; bachelor’s degree in 2007 from Allegheny College, Meadville, Pa.; Geological Society of America grant and American Association of Petroleum Geologists Sherman A. Wengerd Memorial Grant; Thompson is doing fieldwork in Colorado to improve understanding of rocks that are important unconventional gas resources and to improve the ability to produce natural gas in the United States.

From Spring City 19475
David Joseph Riese, master’s student in geology; bachelor’s degree in 2007 from Kutztown University, Kutztown, Pa.; Geological Society of America grant; Riese is investigating traces of organisms that lived in a 180-million-year-old desert that existed in Utah.

TENNESSEE
From Hixson 37343
Brooke Perini, master’s student in geology, bachelor’s degree in 2007 from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville; American Association of Petroleum Geologists grant; Perini uses geophysical techniques to characterize the 3-dimensional distribution of rock properties in the subsurface for evaluating flow of contaminated groundwater.

TEXAS
From San Antonio 78240
Marina B. Suarez, doctoral student in geology; master’s degree in 2005 from Temple University, Philadelphia, Pa.; bachelor’s degree in geology from KU, 2006; bachelor’s degree in 2003 from Trinity University, San Antonio, Texas; American Association of Petroleum Geologists grant; Suarez is studying the effect of extremely warm climates on sedimentary systems 100 million years old.

WYOMING
From Cheyenne 82009
Joshua D. Schmerge, master’s degree student in geology, bachelor’s degree in 2007 from the University of Wyoming; Geological Society of America grant and American Association of Petroleum Geologists grant; Schmerge is investigating the effects of climate change on fossil mammals in rocks from Wyoming.

CANADA
From Gloucester, Ontario
Paul Kenward, doctoral student in geology, bachelor’s degree in 2002 and master’s degree in 2005, both from Ottawa University in Canada; American Association of Petroleum Geologists grant; Kenward is doing experimental work on using methane-producing microbes to synthesize the mineral dolomite, an important component in some of the largest oil and gas reservoirs in the world.

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