Lucia Torrado, who is currently pursuing her doctorate in geology at the University of Houston with the Caribbean Basins, Tectonics and Hydrocarbons (CBTH) Consortium, had been here before.
And “here” was the AAPG Student Poster Competition, held yearly at the AAPG Annual Convention and Exhibition.
She had come in third place in 2013, but this year, the competition, she said, had a “vibe” to it.
Apparently so. She won.
“Yes, this time it felt a little different,” she said to the atmosphere this past April. She chalked up the aforementioned “vibe,” in part, to the fact that her classmates at the University of Houston were also in the process of taking home the grand prize at the IBA. (See related story.)
“The meeting was bigger than any other AAPG (meeting) that I have ever attended, with more people from the industry, which also meant more feedback and networking opportunities,” said Torrado.
It was a good time to shine.
The Winning Poster
Torrado’s poster was “Similarities and Differences Between the Late Cretaceous Fan Complex and the Overlying Neogene Amazon Cone in the Foz do Amazonas Basin, Northern Brazil – Implications for Future Hydrocarbon Exploration,” which studied the northernmost basin offshore Brazil, the deep-water portion of the Foz do Amazonas basin, which includes the Amazon delta (or Amazon Cone).
“I compared two deep-water systems within the basin from a seismic stratigraphic point of view: a Late Cretaceous turbidite system versus the modern example of the Amazon delta, and estimated their quality as reservoirs,” she said.
This is of particular importance, as this Late Cretaceous turbidite system has become a play that has been recently drilled along the Mid-Atlantic margin (with good success). Her study, she believes, will shed light over this potential play in northern Brazil.
“I conducted a 1-D model for hydrocarbon generation, and considered the consequences of the existence of a massive delta like the Amazon Cone, not only in terms of oil and gas generation, but also for the future drilling campaigns that are going to take place in this area in the near future,” said Torrado.
It’s a tense undertaking, these poster competitions, for they attract more than 100 abstracts from students throughout the country. Of those, 15 get chosen.
“The main challenge presenting this poster was trying to convey a clear message in a short amount of time to geoscientist who may – or may not – be familiar with the topic and/or the area,” she said.
Which is exactly the point. The competition is designed for students to convey an idea (along with their technical knowledge) to a group of people in an informal setting, as well as create an opportunity to network through interaction between author and viewer, all with the goal of being able to communicate the skills they would bring to an employment opportunity.
Torrado submitted her abstract back in September and learned that her poster was chosen to compete in early November.
That’s when the work really began.
“From that moment,” she said, “I knew that I would be participating in the competition.”
“Every Friday our research group had a meeting, so I would present to my fellow students and supervisor the progress that I had made so far with my poster, including new figures, mock-ups, interpretation or the overall design of the poster. Their feedback helped tremendously through this process.”
(Also of some note, abstracts from three other students from the University of Houston were in the competition.)
The Winning Strategy
Looking back on her poster, to further explain the “vibe,” Torrado thinks a couple of factors went into her victory.
“The strength of my poster was that I had good visual aids like big, clean, colorful figures – that included high-resolution seismic – and it was also easy to read from a distance,” she said, referring to the details in the figure, as well as the color palettes, scales, units, location, orientation, etc.
“Each sections of the poster included major key points and were numbered consecutively, so it was organized in a way that it had a nice, easy flow. Some people would come up to my poster and read by themselves without any extra explanation required, so it was basically self-explanatory. I tried to make the best use of the three panels that we were given, finding a good balance between texts and figures, which translate into an effective poster.”
“I also kept in mind that this was an AAPG meeting, so I included the direct impact of my research in the oil and gas industry.”
There was one more important consideration, aside from the posters and graphs and vivid colors.
“Having a three to five-minute speech prepared is crucial too,” she said, “along with being open to any type of questions and feedback.”
Torrado, who was born in Colombia, said that being selected in this session was an honor in itself, but knows there’s something more important in front of her, even more than winning.
“My main goal in the near future is to obtain my doctorate in geology by fall of 2018,” at which point she hopes to have a “couple of papers published and at least three more papers under review.”
Her goal, not surprisingly is to work in exploration for an oil and gas company where she can apply the knowledge and skills obtained while pursuing graduate studies.
“In the long-term, I would like to grow with a company where I can continue to learn, gain experience, take on additional responsibilities, and contribute back as well,” she said.