From the President | May 2021

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Coming Up, and a Bit of the Past

I just finished listening to a HGS technical presentation on geothermal energy capture, including a bit on non-utility scale resources, and the potential for distributed geothermal opportunities for direct use for commercial and residential buildings, in addition for electric generation.  Our knowledge of the subsurface allows us to be in the lead on developing this resource.  Some of are looking for new professional directions to be involved in, and several were discussed at the recent 7 April Upstream Hiring Event initiated by the local SPE Gulf Coast Section, with participation of the HGS and other geoscience professional associations and over thirty other professional groups.  It is always disappointing to see colleagues participating in these events who involuntarily have had their careers interrupted.  We all enjoy our selected careers and the opportunity to develop and learn, while benefitting our employers, but unplanned career punctuations are a part of our careers these days.  These local hiring events occur twice a year, and planning for the next one in Autumn 2021 will begin soon.  If you would like to participate in the next one as part of the HGS Employment Committee, please contact me, as it is a great networking opportunity.

Although we have not had any in-person HGS events for over a year for health reasons, we plan to have the next edition of our periodic Shrimp Peel and Crawfish Boil on Friday 21 May in a park in west Houston, so we can all space comfortably while still being safely social with old friends and new colleagues.  Information is elsewhere in this Bulletin.  Also, elections for the next HGS Board will continue until 10 May.  The voting is all online ( https://www.hgs.org/ballot/cast_your_vote ) and we thank all the Members volunteering to stand as candidates.  It takes a lot of effort to produce the range of activities and distributing it to volunteers and the Board Members allows the many activities of the world’s largest local geoscience society.  Also, we are accepting nominations for the annual HGS awards, and nominations may be sent to the HGS Office.  Online information on the awards ( https://www.hgs.org/houston-geological-society-awards-criteria ) and a list of past awardees ( https://www.hgs.org/awards-list)  is on the HGS Website at hgs.org.

A few other things while waiting to circulate bottomsup:

Some of can still recall our student days when May was a time to prepare for summer geology field camp.  This seems to be unique to North America, and mainly the United States.  My university had very small undergraduate classes and no field camp, so we all had to write letters (sometimes dozens) to geology departments to try and join their summer programs.  Kind of like our first experience with applying for a job.  Fortunately our department had a practice field exercise during our junior year spring break, and we drove to Big Bend National Park and mapped Mariscal Anticline, and toured area geology.  Good preparation for later field camp in Montana (which was great) and the first time we were presented with some geology, defined the problems to be solved, prepared maps and reports, and presented our results, a preview of later career activities.  I am still a member of my field camp, which is my cheapest professional membership.  If your field camp has memberships, I’m sure they can use your support, or a donation.  Field camps are becoming fewer and fewer, and we need to maintain this vital educational resource.

I don’t often read The New York Review of Books, but the 11 March cover caught my eye.  There were illustrations of rocks, geology block sketches and other natural history diagrams.  So, I had to give it a closer look, and there was a review of Strata:  William Smith’s Geological Maps (University of Chicago Press, 256 pp.) by Jenny Uglow, a British biographer.  As a biographer, she focuses a lot in her review on Smith’s life (occasional unemployment-sound familiar?) and the context of the early development of modern geology.  Her geological descriptions were good, so the compilation must read well.  And she pointed out that much of Smith’s reports and maps were directed toward economic geology and soils, essentially resources, as so many of us are involved in today.  I am still surprised when talking to someone in Houston that they have never met a geologist, since there are so many of them here.  But there is increasing attention by the public, in a general way, on geoscience, with all the discussion of resources and climate science these days.  I hope when we have an opportunity to discuss our geoscience with someone, we take the few minutes to get beyond the lead paragraph of a news article or brief broadcast sentence to answer their questions and communicate our excitement in what we do, particularly if they are a student. 

Volunteer for something this month.

Jim Tucker