Katharine Lee Avary
Katharine Lee Avary received a B.S. in Geology from Emory University, and an M.S. Geology from University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. After working as a geologist at WV Geological and Economic Survey from 1978 to 2010, she became an independent consulting petroleum geologist.
Special Commendation 2007
The Honors and Awards Committee unanimously recommends Martha Lou Broussard, Jamie White, Charles R. “Chuck” Noll, Roger M. Slatt, Michael M. Deal, Randi S. Martinsen, Mary Beth Hattaberg, and Katharine Lee Avary for Special Commendation for their work to create and sustain the AAPG/SEG Student Expo. The Student Expo began at Rice University in the fall of 1998 as a joint society initiative with Ms. Broussard as the guiding force. Since that time with the considerable effort and vision of those named, the Student Expo has grown considerably and been expanded to Norman, Pittsburgh, and Laramie.
Citation for the SEG Special Commendation
Several years ago, we collectively became aware of what has been colorfully termed “the impending crew change.” The demographic profile of our industry showed an aging workforce with a disproportionate concentration of folks marching toward retirement age. Just behind this bubble we could see a bit of a trough representing a period when little new hiring was done. To complicate matters, enrollment in Earth science programs was at historical lows. The problem was clear: “Who is going to take over?” The solution was clear as well. Students needed to be attracted into our discipline. The word had to get out that there are interesting, challenging, and rewarding careers to be had in our industry.
The group being honored with this special commendation recognized this problem perhaps earlier than most of us and did something concrete and practical to advance a solution. Beginning in the mid-1990s with a small workshop in Denver to hook students up with summer internships, they have grown a program across the continental United States that touches hundreds of students every year. This program is commonly known as the AAPG/SEG Student Expo. The “Expo” is not a single event. Rather there is an annual spring expo on the University of Oklahoma campus in Norman, a fall expo in Houston (originally on the Rice campus), an annual expo in Laramie on the University of Wyoming campus, and yet another in Pittsburgh. The idea has now even spread overseas with the expo model being adopted in other locales around the globe.
Some in this group were there at the beginning and persevered with their vision despite an initially lukewarm level of support from AAPG and SEG. Their vision was ahead of its time. Others of the group came in later, grasping the importance of the vision, executing the strategy and expanding the program by a factor of more than three in the last six years.
Today the “expo” program forms a key part in the recruiting program of perhaps as many as 40 exploration and production companies. The spring and fall expos each attract more than 150 students who participate in interviews and a poster paper competition. Students regularly travel from across the country to get in on the fun and very likely land a summer internship or a permanent job for their efforts. These are tangible and laudable results. SEG student membership has grown exponentially over the last few years and now sits at an all time high, accounting for nearly a third of the worldwide membership.
It would appear that the word is getting out and there may be some hands to take the controls when that crew change occurs. The group being recognized here has played a vital role in bringing the importance of students to our Society and our industry to the very forefront of our attention. They have led the way by example and created a program, now self sustaining, that meets the needs of our current members while building the membership of the future. Well done!