The AAPG Foundation celebrates its 50th anniversary this year – a milestone that coincides with the 100th Anniversary of AAPG. It is a big year and a great time to reflect on our mission, purpose and where we are headed.
While AAPG and the AAPG Foundation are separate entities, they are dependent on each other.
Five decades ago, Michel T. Halbouty, then president of AAPG, birthed the idea for the Foundation to provide support for AAPG programs that benefit the profession and educate the public. In February 1967, the Foundation was granted legal status as an Oklahoma trust and Dean A. McGee, Morgan J. Davis and W. Dow Hamm were appointed as Trustees. In 1986, the AAPG Foundation became an Oklahoma non-profit corporation and the Members of the Corporation was formed. Today a Board of Trustees led by chairman Jim Gibbs governs the Foundation.
Halbouty backed his belief in the Foundation by becoming its first donor. Since then, thousands of AAPG Members have joined him in giving back and sharing their love of the science. Through the AAPG Foundation, they have created a way to support programs that boost geological literacy across the globe and will sustain the petroleum geosciences well into the future.
Over the years, the programs supported by the Foundation have changed due to technical advances and developments in how the science is delivered. But, no matter how the times change, the fundamental purpose of the Foundation remains: to prepare the next generation of geoscientists to advance the science and tackle the challenges confronting an energy hungry world.
In 2016, the AAPG Foundation gave $1.8 million in grants and program support to do just that. Here are the some of the Foundation’s recent activities and programs:
• The L. Austin Weeks Undergraduate Grant Program enables undergraduate students like Celeste Cunningham from the University of Western Ontario, and the AAPG Student Chapter of the University of Pembangunan Nasional “Veteran” Yogyakarta, Indonesia to purchase equipment and get into the field. Ron Nelson provides stellar leadership of the L. Austin Weeks Undergraduate committee responsible for reviewing and scoring the applications from students and student-led organizations. The committee will review nearly 250 applications in this round awarding $85,000 in grants.
• The Grants-in-Aid Program, one of the Foundation’s oldest programs, assists graduate students like Sarah George, a University of Texas doctorate candidate, who received the Gordon I. Atwater Memorial Grant, to fund thesis research. Sarah used her grant to fund fieldwork in southern Ecuador on basin segmentation and trap formation.
This program has achieved tremendous growth over the years, thanks to AAPG Members, family and colleagues who have chosen to leave a lasting legacy by establishing more than 80 named/memorial grants. Today, more than 400 applications are received annually for this program and a 70 plus member committee under the guidance of Mike Unger provides program critiques, review and application scoring. In 2016, 116 graduate students were awarded a total of $258,000. The 2017 application cycle recently closed Feb. 15, and the committee is in the midst of reviewing the applications.
• The AAPG Foundation’s newest program, the Deana and Paul Strunk Military Veterans Scholarship Program, awards U.S. military veterans with scholarships that provide needed financial assistance as they return to school to pursue an education in the geosciences.
Wesley Weisberg, a 2016 scholarship recipient shares, “The award funds will assist my family and me by relieving some of the financial burden during my transition from undergraduate to graduate school to obtain my master’s in geology.”
The Foundation would like to thank Don O’Nesky for his service and guidance for chairing the Military Veterans Scholarship Committee through the development stages of the program and two rounds of scholarships. Heather Anderson has accepted the challenge of leading this committee and it will be fun to see the program grow under her energetic leadership.
• The Foundation renewed its support of partnership with SEG’s Geoscientists Without Borders (GWB) program. GWB fits nicely with the Foundation public outreach objective as the program partners with universities around the world to engage students in the development of solutions for humanitarian relief using geoscience.
• At AAPG’s Annual Convention and Exhibition in Houston, two documentaries will be shown in celebration of AAPG’s centennial anniversary. The documentaries “AAPG GeoLegends” and “Pioneering Women in Petroleum Geology: 100 Years” both showcase historical figures important to the history of AAPG and the profession of petroleum geology. The AAPG Foundation is proud to be a part of preserving this history by providing grants for the production of these films.
These are just a few of the programs supported through the AAPG Foundation in support of others as they pursue careers in the geosciences. More activities can be found on the Foundation website, foundation.aapg.org.
Will you join us once again, as we build a better foundation for the next 50 years?