Young Professionals Taking Charge of Key HGS Committees
The HGS recognizes the importance of young geoscience professionals in the petroleum and environmental geological
community. I am happy to report that two important HGS committees,the NeoGeos and the North American Explorationists,
are chaired by young geoscientists whose ideas are contributing to the revitalization of HGS’s programs. In this column, I want to recognize the young leaders of the NeoGeos, Tim Gibbons and Dianna Phu, and the chairman of the North American
Explorationists’ Group, Mike Jones, for their ideas and contributions. I recently overheard the phrase, “The Great Crew
Change,” which I think aptly describes a hopeful feeling that the energy business is finally able to increase the number of professionals between 25 and 35 years old by offering attractive employment opportunities in this boom time of high oil prices.
The new “Crew” has a lot to offer! The HGS NeoGeos group was started as an HGS committee in 2000, seven years ago.
The founding members are now “Eo-Geos,” which I guess means an older NeoGeo. The original founding NeoGeos have 7–10 years of industry experience under their belts. Denise Stone (former Secretary, VP and Past President of HGS) told me
she fondly remembers organizing the first NeoGeos Happy Hour by email invitation in 2000, and being excited when young people actually showed up and were willing to staff the new committee! The goals of the young professional group are still the same seven years later: the NeoGeos are a social and networking group of Houston-based geoscientists (energy,environmental, hydrogeology) who meet regularly (post-work happy hours) and organize programs of interest to
young professionals with 0–5 years industry experience. Timothy Gibbons took on the NeoGeos chairmanship (2007–2008) from past chairman Dianna Phu, who handled the committee for several years previously. Before going on I need to acknowledge other past NeoGeo organizers, including Natalie Uschner, Matt Boyd, Nigel Hicks, Kelly Latter and Andrea Reynolds, who today wear “Eo-Geo”monikers because they are well beyond being new hires in the industry.
Present chairman Tim Gibbons graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with an MS in geology in 2006, then went to
work at El Paso Exploration and Production Company and joined HGS the same year. I asked Tim what he thinks attracts people to join NeoGeos. He thought maybe two seconds, and told me it was the networking and social aspects that are the main attraction.
He and Dianna Phu are using an expanding email list (currently about 300 people) and an Internet bulletin board to contact
NeoGeo members and potential members and are very creative in using cost-effective ways to get messages out using email. Under Tim’s guidance, the NeoGeos have been approved for increased funds from HGS to start including more programs and field trips in addition to the “Thirsty Thursday Happy Hour” each month, which has a group of 10–30 people getting together at a restaurant. Tim says he wants to especially thank Vivian Rohrbach, Amanda Beardsley and Lauren Petty as members
of the NeoGeos committee for their organizational efforts. If you want to get on the NeoGeos email list, send an email to
firstname.lastname@example.org and check out www.neogeos.org.
Dianna Phu has contributed to HGS as chair of NeoGeos, as advisor to our HGS website committee and as an organizer of
student outreach efforts for AAPG, HGS, OTC and other geoclubs. Dianna works at Geoscience Earth and Marine Services
(GEMS) here in Houston as a geologist and seismic interpreter. She graduated from the University of Houston with a BS in geology in 2000. Under Dianna’s leadership, the NeoGeos creatively expanded their use of free Internet resources including creating a Yahoo user group and an HGS Bulletin Board for Internet postings. They use college alumni organizations at San Jacinto College, U of H and UT to forward the NeoGeos newsletter into the student community. Dianna told me one of her favorite NeoGeos experiences was a field trip last year to central Texas led by NeoGeo alumnus, Professor Tom Miskelly, and attended by 30 people with different geoscience backgrounds and their families. She believes NeoGeos events should be open to professionals from all geoscience backgrounds to keep the group’s demographics broad and not narrowed to just geologists. Dianna can always think of better ways to get things done (which is why HGS gave her the “Rising Star” award in 2007). She
recently helped the HGS membership committeeby recommending a low-cost printing companyto help us create
10,000 HGS membership brochures.
Mike Jones is the chairman of the North American dinner meeting group, taking over from past chairman Steve Earle two years ago when Steve was elected HGS Bulletin editor-elect. Mike completed his BS in geology from Texas A&M in 2001 and his MS in geology from Texas Tech in 2003. He worked as an intern geologist for EOG Resources in the summer of 2001 and for Mewbourne Oil Co. in the summer of 2002. After graduation he became an independent geologist on retainer with Scout Petroleum, L.L.C., generating Gulf Coast oil and gas prospects. Scout Petroleum is a family business headed by Mike Jones’ father, Thomas L. Jones, Jr., who became an oil and gas independent in 1979. Mike married a fellow geologist, Kelly
Jones, who works at Amerada Hess, and they have a young family. In four years of actual industry experience,Mike has accumulated the equivalent of 10 years because of the intensive work experience of a small family business.
The North American group has plans to get more active beyond the dinner meetings every other month. Mike is very interested
in adding members to the committee and possibly putting on a one- or two-day applied geoscience conference next year.
Interested HGS members should contact Mike at mike@scout petroleum.com.
The North American Group has been a resource of leadership talent for the HGS since it was formed in 1992. Past chairmen Steve Levine and Charles Sternbach have gone on to be presidents of HGS, and still have fond memories of leading the
group’s dinner meetings because the group focuses on onshore Gulf plays and midcontinent trends of interest to many HGS
members. Mike Jones received the HGS “Rising Star” award in 2005.
In closing, I wanted to make one more comment on “The Great Crew Change.” The young professionals’ greatest asset is that they entered the business at a time when digital communication is both taken for granted and evolving really fast into all aspects of life. I think the HGS needs to rethink and retool the many ways we try to deliver Society benefits to our members and I hope the “New Crew” can offer help on our webpage and in our publications.