Lecturers Hit the Global Trail

Tours are, well, Distinguished

Last year was the biggest and most successful year ever for AAPG’s international Distinguished Lecture program – and officials are hoping this year will bring more of the same.

For the record, last year’s program sent six lecturers to visit the Asia-Pacific, Middle East, and European regions, where they collectively gave 81 talks and had a combined attendance of 3,852 attendees.

This year? The international speakers start their tours in February, focusing on the Asia-Pacific and Middle East regions.

AAPG’s Distinguished Lecture program, funded largely by The AAPG Foundation, is the Association’s flagship initiative for spreading the latest in science, technology and professional information. Seven domestic speakers for this speaking season were previously announced.

Distinguished Lecture Committee co-chairs Mark Cooper and Lee Krystinik have seen the international program grow since they each began lecturing as DLs in 1999. Joining the committee after their own tours, they have assumed leadership of the program, serving as co-chairs since 2007.

Krystinik, with Fossil Creek Resources in Arlington, Texas, believes the program provides multi-faceted importance within the geosciences community.

“DL provides new concepts and information applicable to each region, as well as a forum for discussion of these ideas,” he said, adding that it also “provides an access point for students to interact directly with IDLs, who can place petroleum geosciences in a completely different light for students.”

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Last year was the biggest and most successful year ever for AAPG’s international Distinguished Lecture program – and officials are hoping this year will bring more of the same.

For the record, last year’s program sent six lecturers to visit the Asia-Pacific, Middle East, and European regions, where they collectively gave 81 talks and had a combined attendance of 3,852 attendees.

This year? The international speakers start their tours in February, focusing on the Asia-Pacific and Middle East regions.

AAPG’s Distinguished Lecture program, funded largely by The AAPG Foundation, is the Association’s flagship initiative for spreading the latest in science, technology and professional information. Seven domestic speakers for this speaking season were previously announced.

Distinguished Lecture Committee co-chairs Mark Cooper and Lee Krystinik have seen the international program grow since they each began lecturing as DLs in 1999. Joining the committee after their own tours, they have assumed leadership of the program, serving as co-chairs since 2007.

Krystinik, with Fossil Creek Resources in Arlington, Texas, believes the program provides multi-faceted importance within the geosciences community.

“DL provides new concepts and information applicable to each region, as well as a forum for discussion of these ideas,” he said, adding that it also “provides an access point for students to interact directly with IDLs, who can place petroleum geosciences in a completely different light for students.”

Think Global, Act Local

However, with goals so big and reaching all the way across the ocean, the program and committee face huge challenges every year to make sure of its growing success.

“To date our greatest challenges have been trying to expand the program into each of the regions within AAPG,” Krystinik said. “Our philosophy is to work toward a Distinguished Lecturer slate that is most appropriate to the specific needs of a given Region, preferably with as many local experts as possible.”

This would involve building each Region’s sub-committees and filling them with active participants who would aggressively seek out names of potential local speakers and nominate them.

Right now, there are only approximately 55 to 60 committee members in charge of nominating DLs (this number includes both the domestic and international sides of the DL program) under several different categories, including:

  • Future trends in energy/geology.
  • Carbonates.
  • Case histories.
  • Unconventional resources.
  • Geological record of climate change/applied environmental studies.
  • Integrated hydrocarbon systems
  • Geophysics.
  • General topic/paleontology.
  • Geosciences and engineering.
  • Reservoir quality characterization and predicting modeling.
  • Siliciclastic stratigraphy/sedimentary.
  • Tectonics and structure.

Expansion of the program, however, cannot occur without a high level of involvement of the Region itself – meaning there needs to be AAPG members from each Region who will serve on the committee and nominate worthy local experts to become distinguished lecturers.

“The individual regions have the opportunity and responsibility to provide this valuable service to their geological community,” said Cooper, who is with Sherwood Geoconsulting in Calgary, Canada.

“Without a high level of involvement it is impossible to provide the focused, region-specific programs that each region deserves,” he added.

Cooper ensures those interested that being on the committee does not require a great deal of time, that “most geoscientists (already) are traveling to conventions, going to lectures or talks at societies for their own personal knowledge and benefit.” The only thing one does differently as a member is to report back to their chair with the names of the outstanding lecturers that they have heard, that way they can be considered for nomination.

Global Growth Potential?

Ideally, if each AAPG region participated, the goals of the program could easily be met. These goals, Cooper said, include “scheduling our lecturers to talk to the largest audiences by traveling the shortest distance, scheduling speakers to every society or university making a request, and sending speakers on the dates requested.”

Looking for new speakers and new topics can also be a challenging part of the committee’s job. To track current hot topics to lecture on, Krystinik credits his comrades.

“We depend greatly on the remarkably deep and diverse backgrounds of our committee members,” he said, “as well as upon the outcomes of excellence of presentation judging from recent local, national and international meetings.”

As for speakers, Krystinik explained how they look for people with “an established reputation as technical experts in their field, who are known for excellent presentation skills, have exciting new information to share and who would be good ambassadors for AAPG.”

Both co-chairs say that despite appealing to an international audience they do not feel pressured to select controversial or provocative topics or speakers.

“Wherever one finds people, one finds politics,” Krystinik said. “Everyone understands the importance of an unbiased, transparent and fair selection process.”

However, Krystinik did admit that sometimes the committee adds provocative talks to the mix for the benefit of science.

“Healthy, respectful debate helps move science forward and opens pathways for completely new science,” he said.

Looking ahead, Lee hinted that the IDL program is on the verge of change – with a new emphasis on the creation of international regions and regional offices for AAPG.

“As AAPG becomes an ever increasingly more global organization, penetrating more deeply into new regions and countries, our responsibilities in service and outreach will expand exponentially,” he said, hopeful that the offices will allow them to do just that.

The committee believes AAPG’s future will be in the international arena.

“We foresee rapid growth in demand for more IDLs,” Krystinik said, “and we are working with the regions to establish a tradition of active local committees to carry the effort forward at a whole new level.”