The AAPG Foundation is proud to announce the recipient of the 2019 Inspirational Geoscience Educator Award: Brett Carpenter, an assistant professor in the Geology and Geophysics Department at the University of Oklahoma in Norman, Okla.
Carpenter’s research currently focuses on how fault/crustal structure and small-scale processes affect large-scale fault and crustal behavior, particularly the behavior of Earth materials at shallow to central crustal conditions, where economic resources are found and where destructive earthquakes originate and propagate.
Upon notification that he had been named the 2019 IGEA recipient, Carpenter said that he is honored and grateful to the AAPG Foundation and to the group of students and colleagues who nominated him for the award.
Carpenter also recognized the “geoscience educators who inspired (him) along the way – Hobart King, Russell Dodson, Chris Marone, Cristiano Collettini and Ze’ev Reches,” who, he said, “educated, challenged and inspired me throughout my academic career. They set the bar high for me and continued to move it higher as I approached it. I would not have been in a position to receive this award without them.”
Carpenter grew up in the Finger Lakes region of western New York and received his bachelor’s degree from Mansfield University of Pennsylvania and his master’s and doctoral degrees from Pennsylvania State University. He then completed a four-year post-doctoral position at the Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia, followed by two years of additional post-doctoral research at OU.
G.S. Lynn Soreghan, department chair of OU’s School of Geology and Geophysics, explained that Carpenter’s “specialty of rock mechanics and seismicity, with application to petroleum geology” and “issues around induced seismicity” are an “enormous area of concern here in Oklahoma.”
Furthermore, she said that Carpenter was “extremely proactive in organizing and convening international research drilling workshops aimed at planning research drilling projects to investigate induced seismicity,” which were also “excellent for helping students network and become involved in research early.”
Carpenter engages his classes with “hands-on exercises using apparatus to stimulate deformation and 3-D visualizations,” she said, and often meets “personally with students to cover difficult concepts” and “provide abundant, constructive feedback on student research.”
“Such attention to the educational aspects of our profession takes enormous time, but Brett is more than willing to invest that time and care. He possesses an energy and passion for geoscience and for geoscience education,” Soreghan said.
This year, Carpenter presented at the Oklahoma State University Colloquium on “Oklahoma Basement Primed for Seismic Reactivation,” the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s annual meeting on “Scientific Accomplishments at the San Andreas Fault Observatory at Depth,” and was a featured guest on “Third Pod From the Sun” podcast.
During the summer, Carpenter instructs field courses. This year, he plans to co-instruct a three-week course on the geology of Italian marble and a summer program in physical geology.
Folarin Kolawole, a doctoral student at OU, said he noticed Carpenter’s “passion for excellence” at their first meeting.
“He does not only impart scientific knowledge,” Kolawole said, “he also tries to teach us about behavioral traits that will help us become highly effective collaborators in the workplace. He genuinely cares about the success of students.”
Kolawole said that having Carpenter as his professor and mentor kindled a desire to pursue an academic career in structural geology, geomechanics and geophysics.
“His warm personality, great teaching skills and genuine passion for student growth has drawn a lot of undergraduate students to our research group” and to select geosciences as their major, he said.
Carpenter has set high standards, not only for himself, but also for his undergraduate and graduate students to follow. He encourages his graduate students to mentor undergraduate students in their research projects. As a direct reflection of his own approach, Carpenter said of his students, “They inspire me every day.”
Each year the AAPG Foundation honors a college or university professor who demonstrates professorial excellence and inspires students to study and to pursue careers in the geosciences with the IGEA, which includes a cash prize of $6,000. Carpenter is the award’s eighth recipient.