Hendratta Ntalla Ali
SEG Outstanding Educator Award 2018 
Hendratta Ali of Fort Hays State University (FHSU) is an excellent teacher, has developed an apprenticeship program, teaches industry short courses, helped FHSU add more than 100 SEG student members, and is very active in all aspects of mentoring students. She served as 2014 chair of the SEG Youth Education Committee, has regular K–12 outreach events, and her inspirational work with FHSU students has significantly grown the petroleum geology program in a very short time.
Biography Citation for the 2018 SEG Outstanding Educator Award
Hendratta Ali is an associate professor of geoscience at Fort Hays State University (FHSU) in Hays, Kansas. Remarkably, though she is early in her career, she has achieved more with her students in the last eight years than many geoscientists achieve in a lifetime. Simply put, she is passionate about her students, the integration of science and education, and the transfer of knowledge to the younger generation including not only university students but also high school students both in the United States and in several countries in Africa. Hendratta is a true mentor, coach, and promoter of her students.
As the sole petroleum geoscience faculty, Hendratta developed 10 new courses including three graduate courses, one virtual online course, and one open education resource course. The three geophysics courses include Geophysical Analysis, Seismic Interpretation, and Advanced Geophysical Well Logging. In addition to these, she developed a unique and very impactful course, Apprenticeship in Geosciences. The Apprenticeship in Geosciences course allows students the opportunity to gain hands-on experience as apprentices with established industry professionals while applying the skills and knowledge they have learned in the classroom. Hendratta also offers several short courses and workshops such as Reservoir Characterization Essentials, Well Logging 101, Fundamentals of Petroleum Geology for Nongeologists, and Introduction to Seismic Interpretation to industry professionals seeking continuing education.
Hendratta has great impact through these programs because she commits herself to optimizing the experience of students and professionals alike outside the classroom. In particular, Hendratta has an outstanding record in mentoring students. After creating and advising the SEG Student Chapter at FHSU, she recruited student members — some of which are now Associate Members of SEG — and mentored them to participate in SEG student club activities at national meetings and SEG student programs. Some of these include the SEG Challenge Bowl, Student Chapter Outreach Grant, technical expanded abstracts, field trips, and peer mentoring. Through her mentorship of graduate and undergraduate students, she has encouraged more than 100 students to become student members of SEG. With her encouragement, these students have gone on to benefit from multiple education programs and resources that SEG offers.
In 2017, she was nominated by her students and subsequently won the AAPG Inspirational Geoscience Educator Award — a true testament to how much she has inspired her students.
One of her students remarks, “Dr. Ali embodies the traits that every SEG mentor should strive for: (1) passion for teaching geophysics; (2) dedication to educational programs and the ability to energize students to succeed and draw out their best to succeed in these programs; (3) commitment to mentoring and guiding students no matter the time, whether it be day or night, weekday, or weekend; and (4) being an inspiration to upcoming geologists and geophysicists.”
Another student writes, “Dr. Ali's method of teaching has greatly influenced my ability to ask the right questions, to build my problem-solving skills, and to enhance my creative thinking. Lastly, and most importantly, her constant questioning of research interpretation and analysis allows her students to learn how to clearly articulate their conclusions and the steps taken to come to those conclusions … I believe Dr. Ali is a unique professor that is enthusiastic about her students and can recognize the potential that each of them possesses.”
A third student shares, “… I can personally attest that Dr. Ali has the heart for educating the next generation and has genuine interest in her students succeeding in life. Since my first course with Dr. Ali, she has been a steady voice to encourage all students to be a part of the local SEG Student Chapter and has guided the club in its activities. As long as I have been in the club, she has not taken matters into her own hands with club activities but has encouraged and motivated us to use our initiative.”
It is clear that Hendratta is genuinely inspiring and legitimately impacting the next generation of geophysicists.
- The Leading Edge Volume 37, Issue 11