The Bureau of Economic Geology The University of Texas at Austin Jackson School of Geosciences
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August 2015
Bureau of Economic Geology Visiting Committee 2015
Each year, a small group of influential leaders from government, industry, nongovernmental organizations, and academia convene to learn about the Bureau of Economic Geology’s research and to exchange views on issues vital to its success. The Bureau’s Visiting Committee met recently in what was widely regarded as a very productive opportunity to discuss weathering current economic conditions and positioning the Bureau for continued achievement in years to come.

Several new members were welcomed to the Visiting Committee this year including Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush, Texas Railroad Commissioner Christi Craddick, Cynthia and George Mitchell Foundation Vice President of Sustainability Programs Marilu Hastings, Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts Glenn Hegar, and Chief Executive Officer of University Lands Mark Houser.

The Visiting Committee members heard from researchers Julia Gale, Bill Ambrose, Bridget Scanlon, Todd Caldwell, Tiffany Caudle, Greg Frébourg, and Gürcan Gülen about a wide range of the Bureau’s work. Talks focused on projects ranging from the Texas Soil Observation Network to water research initiatives to gas-power linkages in the electricity sector of the economy.

Seeking and then acting upon expert advice might be considered unusual for an organization with the Bureau’s reputation and track record, but thoughts captured from the Committee meeting’s discussions will definitely guide forthcoming planning efforts. The Bureau of Economic Geology is extremely fortunate to have a select group of leadership volunteers with the kind of expertise, clout, and care for the institution’s well-being that its Visiting Committee brings to the table each year.

Dr. Jake CovaultThe Bureau is delighted to welcome Dr. Jake Covault, who joined the BEG on August 10 as Research Scientist and Principal Investigator of the Quantitative Clastics Laboratory (QCL). Dr. Covault, a distinguished researcher in deepwater clastic depositional systems, received his PhD from Stanford University in 2008 and previously worked as a researcher at Chevron Energy Technology Company and at the United States Geological Survey. Dr. Covault is working with the QCL team to maintain a research program that addresses key challenges in the exploration and development of natural resources, namely the evaluation of reservoir presence and quality in data-limited, frontier basins, and the characterization of connectivity and heterogeneity of reservoirs. QCL researchers will continue to use subsurface, outcrop, geomorphology, and marine geology datasets to evaluate predictive, source-to-sink relationships between hinterland, fluvial, shoreline, shelf, slope, and deep-basin environments. Researchers will also develop concepts for the prediction of stratigraphic architecture and controls on the evolution of fluvial, shallow-marine, and deepwater depositional systems, and they aim to demonstrate the impact of facies modeling on reservoir performance of these systems.

 Quantitative Clastics Laboratory (QCL)


Dr. Ne-Zheng Sun of UCLA (left), and Dr. Alex Sun of the University of Texas at Austin's Bureau of Economic Geology.Researchers frequently collaborate on the publication of papers and articles. Rarely, however, are such collaborators father and son. Model Calibration and Parameter Estimation For Environmental and Water Resource Systems was written by Ne-Zheng Sun of the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department at UCLA, and his son, the Bureau’s own Alex Sun. The book was recently published and is available for purchase through Springer here.

Ne-Zheng first published a book on this subject in 1994.When the publisher asked him to create a new volume in 2010, itwas only natural for him to ask his son Alex to become its coauthor, Model Calibration and Parameter Estimation For Environmental and Water Resource Systemsas both father and son are expert researchers in the field.

Model Calibration and Parameter Estimation For Environmental and Water Resource Systems describes and classifies various hydrological models and summarizes state-of-the-art developments that can bring its readers to the forefront of knowledge in the subject area. Theoretical examples and real-world studies are given throughout the book to elucidate concepts and methods. It is a must-read for hydrogeologists, and a tribute to the expertise and extensive research of the father–son team of Drs. Ne-Zheng and Alex Sun.


Tiffany Caudle (top center) gives students instruction before starting field work on a Florida beach.

GeoFORCE, founded by former Bureau Associate Director Doug Ratcliff, has been inspiring students from challenged-area Texas schools to choose careers in the geosciences since 2005. The high school science outreach program is this year’s sole organization to receive the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Mentoring, and the prototype for the Jackson School of Geosciences’ new industry-sponsored sister program, STEMFORCE.

Since GeoFORCE’s inception, numerous Bureau researchers have made major contributions as both mentors and instructors. Tiffany Caudle and Ruth Costley are among those instructors helping students to understand key geoscience concepts by exploring real-world environments. This year, Caudle, a 7-year veteran of GeoFORCE, helped launch the inaugural effort of STEMFORCE, and Costley undertook her first field trip with GeoFORCE. Both led tours of the waterways, beaches, and barrier islands of Florida to help students better understand river and coastal processes.
After a long day and numerous stops, students get their feet wet exploring coastal processes.


Dr. Oliver Duffy Research Associate Dr. Oliver Duffy has joined the Bureau’s Applied Geodynamics Laboratory (AGL). Duffy earned a BSc in geology in 2007 and a PhD in basin analysis in 2012 at the University of Manchester, followed by over two years as a Postdoctoral Research Associate with the Basins Research Group at Imperial College London. His research centers on using seismic interpretation methods to understand salt tectonic processes, the structural styles and modes of tectonostratigraphic evolution in rift basins, and the geometry and evolution of fault networks. His current research is focused on a structural analysis of the Precaspian Basin in Kazakhstan.

Dr. Samira Enayati Dr. Samira Enayati recently joined the Bureau’s administrative staff as a Contracts and Grants Specialist. Enayati earned her bachelor’s degree with honors from the University of Isfahan in Iran and her Master of Economics degree at the Centre d’Etudes en Macroéconomie et Finance Internationale, University of Nice-Sophia Antipolis. She was awarded her PhD from the University of Nice-Sophia Antipolis and the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique in 2012. Prior to her current assignment, Enayati worked as a Research Fellow at the Bureau’s Vibrating Sample Magnetometer (VSM) laboratory.

Poe ChenPoe Chen has joined the Bureau’s Information Technologies group as Senior Systems Administrator. Chen, a graduate of The University of Texas at Austin with a BS in electrical and computer engineering, previously worked for The University as a LAN administrator and consultant. He has extensive experience in IT systems—including network administration, virtualization, server administration, design and implementation of backup and disaster recovery systems—as well as fluency in numerous programming languages. Chen most recently served as Corporate Application Engineer/IT Specialist for Mentor Graphics of Massachusetts.








 
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