Bureau of Economic Geology

Dr. Kenneth W. Wisian

Ken Wisian
Associate Director: Environmental Division
Bureau of Economic Geology
The University of Texas at Austin
University Station, Box X
Austin, Texas 78713-8924

Ken Wisian, Ph.D., Major General USAF (retired), is responsible for coordinating environmental related research. He came to the Bureau from the Center for Space Research. Previously, Dr. Wisian was a senior state executive responsible for disaster recovery, oil spill prevention and response, and coastal infrastructure and environmental protection for Texas. As a military officer, General Wisian participated or lead military disaster response efforts for the Shuttle Columbia crash and multiple hurricanes. Dr. Wisian is a geophysicist whose main research is in geothermal systems, modeling, and instrumentation & data analysis . Other current research includes; autonomy/drones, applied gravity, planetary geology/space exploration, infrastructure resiliency and international relations.


M.S. in Strategic Studies, US Army War College, 2004

Ph.D. in Geophysics, Southern Methodist University, 1999

M.S. in Geology, Centenary College of Louisiana, 1990

Graduate, US Air Force Test Pilot School, 1990

B.A. in Physics, University of Texas at Austin, 1982


Fellow, British Interplanetary Society, 2019

Developed (w/ University of Texas at Austin) Innovation short course for senior military leaders, 2018

Developed (w/ University of Texas at San Antonio) Cyber Warfare short course for gov/mil/civil executives, 2015-16

CAPSTONE General and Flag Officer Course, National Defense University, 2014

Harvard, Kennedy School: Senior Executives in National and International Security course, 2013

Afghanistan deployments, leadership roles, combat missions, Bronze Star Medal, 2005&08

Hurricane disaster responses, Texas and Louisiana, leadership roles, operational missions, 2005&08

Iraq deployment, combat missions, Air Medal, 2003

Airborne commander, initial NASA shuttle Columbia search & rescue, 2003

Created first in nation full Night Vision Qualification program for a National Guard C-130 unit, 2002-03

Institute for National Security Studies grant to study India & Pakistan’s Nuclear Doctrine and Deterrence, 2002

Contributing editor, Proceedings of the World Geothermal Congress 2000, 2000

Finalist, NASA biennial astronaut selection, 1999

Albritton & Champlin research awards (Southern Methodist University), 1997-98

Multiple Balkan theater deployments, leadership roles, combat missions, 1996-00

T.E. Williams Research Award for excellence in field research (Southern Methodist University), 1995

Roy M. Huffington Fellowship (Southern Methodist University), 1992-99

Sigma Gamma Epsilon Geology Honor Society, 1988

Distinguished or Outstanding Graduate of Advanced Navigator, Navigator/Bombardier & B-52 training, 1982-83

USAF ROTC scholarship, Distinguished Graduate, 1979-82

National Sojourners Award (Shriners), 1981


Wisian, K.W. and J.W. Traphagan, The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence: A Realpolitik Consideration, Space Policy, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.spacepol.2020.101377May 2020.

Wisian, K.W., First Contact in Space Protocols, Centauri Dreams, http://www.centauri-dreams.org/?p=35612, May 13, 2016.

Wisian, K.W., Military Planning for Interstellar Flight, 100 Year Starship 2014 Symposium Conference Proceedings, 100 Year Starship, pp. 311-322, 2014.

Wisian, K.W., and D.D. Blackwell, Numerical Modeling of Basin and Range Geothermal Systems, Geothermics, v.33:6, pp. 713-741, 2004.

Wisian, K.W., D.D. Blackwell, and M. Richards, Correlation of surface heat loss and total energy production for geothermal systems, 5th International Workshop on Heat Flow and the Lithosphere Structure, Geophysical Institute, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, 2001.

Wisian, K.W., Insights into extensional geothermal systems from numerical modeling, Proceedings of the World Geothermal Congress 2000, CD-ROM, 2000.

Wisian, K.W.  Numerical Modeling Basin and Range Geothermal Systems, Ph.D. Dissertation, 177p. 1999.

Wisian, K.W., D.D. Blackwell, and M. Richards, Heat flow in the Western United States and extensional geothermal systems, Proceedings of the 24th Annual Stanford Workshop on Geothermal Reservoir Engineering, 219-226, 1999.

Blackwell, D.D., K.W. Wisian, D Benoit, and B. Gollan, Structure of the Dixie Valley Geothermal System. a “typical” Basin and Range Geothermal System, from thermal and gravity data, Geothermal Resources Council Transaction, v.23 pp. 525-531, 1999.

Wisian, K.W., D.D. Blackwell, and D. Benoit, Thermal Conditions in Beowawe Well Ginn 2-13, Geothermal Resources Council Transaction, v.22, 1998.

Wisian, K.W., D.D. Blackwell, S. Bellani, J.A. Henfling, R.A. Norman, P.C. Lysne, A. Förster and J. Schrötter, Field comparison of conventional and new technology temperature logging systems, Geothermics, v.27:2, pp. 131-141, 1998.

Matava, K, R.K. Nishimori, D.D. Blackwell, and K.W. Wisian, Salt Domes as Vertical Migration Pathways for Basin Fluids, American Geophysical Union fall session, EOS, v. 79, 1998.

Blackwell, D.D., K.W. Wisian, and G.R. Beardsmore, Application of temperature logging technology to increasing the accuracy of basin thermal models, Applications of Emerging Technologies, Unconventional Methods in Exploration v.5, Institute for the Study of Earth and Man, Dallas Texas, 1997.

Blackwell, D.D., K.W. Wisian, R.K. Nishimori, and R.J. McMullen, Using high-quality temperature logs to investigate the thermal structure of sedementary basins, CSPG-SEPM Joint Convention Program and Abstracts, p. 42, 1997.

Wisian, K.W., D.D. Blackwell, B. Teplow, and T. Meidev, Interpretation of geophysical data for the Vale Oregon, geothermal system, Geothermal Resources Council Transaction, v.20, pp. 435-438,1996.

Wisian, K.W., D.D. Blackwell, S. Bellani, J.A. Henfling, R.A. Norman, P.C. Lysne, A. Förster and J. Schrötter, How hot is it? (a comparison of advanced technology temperature logging systems), Geothermal Resources Council Transaction, v.20, pp. 427-434, 1996.

Blackwell, D.D., K.W. Wisian, and J.L. Steele, Geothermal Regime in the Central and Eastern United States East of the Rocky Mountains, Proceedings of the World Geothermal Congress, pp. 649-653, 1995.

Blackwell, D.D., J.L. Steele, and K.W. Wisian, Results of Geothermal Resource Evaluation For the Eastern United States,  Geothermal Resources Council Transactions, Vol. 18, pp. 161-164, 1994.

Blackwell, D.D., S. Kelley, and K.W. Wisian, Thermal Regime of Sedimentary Basins Based on Precision Temperature Logs of Deep Wells, Proceedings: VIIth International Symposium on the Observation of the Continental Crust Through Drilling, pp. 277-280, 1994.