Sometimes, challenging times call for dramatic objectives – and for a geoscience world still being redefined after years of upheaval, that’s exactly what the doctor ordered.
This year’s new slate of AAPG Distinguished Lecturers has been determined, and in doing so, AAPG announces its own version of the Magnificent Seven: a diverse group of experts with international experience, specific knowledge and a hint of geoscience star power who have been selected to inform, improve and inspire geoscientists around the world.
The seven DL speakers – who are not just authorities, but rank among the biggest and best-known names in their respective fields – will offer talks this season that are both practical and innovative, ranging in topics from reservoir modeling and geologic hazard assessment to submarine-channel evolution, from updates on carbon capture strategies to the ubiquitous energy transition.
AAPG’s Distinguished Lecture program is the Association’s historic initiative for offering expert, engaging and often entertaining presentations, now largely in a digital format to a global audience via the AAPG website.
Speakers are carefully selected by the Distinguished Lecture Committee, led by chair Julia Wellner, based on the relevancy of their topics and individual excellence in their respective fields.
The program is managed by AAPG and funded by the AAPG Foundation.
“Yes, the DL program is an important part of how we continue to bring the newest concepts and ground-breaking developments to geoscientists around the world,” said AAPG Foundation Chair Jim McGhay. “When it comes to making science available, this is our flagship operation.
“Even when times are tough, like they have been for the past few years, this program has remained integral to our mission of making geoscience excellence available to our members around the world,” he added.
This year’s DL slate, filled with provocative titles and cutting-edge concepts, includes:
Jacob Covault, senior research scientist and co-principal investigator, Quantitative Clastics Laboratory at the Bureau of Economic Geology, the University of Texas at Austin. His lecture is titled “Submarine-Channel Evolution from Seismic Stratigraphy and Numerical Models: Patterns and Predictions Revisited.”
Frank Peel, research geologist for the Applied Geodynamics Lab at the Bureau of Economic Geology, the University of Texas at Austin. A native of Birmingham, England, he studied the geology of the French Alps and previously more than 30 years of oil industry experience with BP and BHP Petroleum. His lecture is titled “A Lost World Rediscovered: 3-D Seismic Data Reveal Spectacular Images of a Jurassic Landscape on the Eve of Louann Salt Deposition in the Gulf of Mexico, With Implications for Salt Deposition.”
Alex Simms, professor of Earth science at the University of California, Santa Barbara, who has conducted field work on coastlines including Antarctica, Texas, California and the United Kingdom. His lecture is titled “Interactions Between Ice Sheets and Relative Sea Levels: Lessons from Antarctica and Northwest Scotland.”
Roel Snieder, this year’s SEG-AAPG Distinguished Lecturer, holds the W.M. Keck Distinguished Chair of Professional Development Education at the Colorado School of Mines. An award-winning geoscientist, he is the author of “A Guided Tour of Mathematical Methods for the Physical Sciences,” “The Art of Being a Scientist” and “The Joy of Science.” His lecture is titled “Measuring Variations in the Seismic Velocity as a Diagnostic of Rock Damage and Healing.”
Tao Sun, a senior principal geologist with Chevron Technology Center, Houston, who currently leads the research and development of science/technology to enable 3-D prediction of reservoir architecture. Educated at Peking University, China, and at Oslo University, Norway, his lecture is titled “Integrated Reservoir Characterization and Modeling with Computational Stratigraphy.”
Jennifer Wilcox, principal deputy assistant secretary for the Office of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management, Washington, D.C. She also is a senior fellow at the World Resources Institute, and the author of the first textbook on carbon capture, “Carbon Capture.” Her lecture is titled “The Role of Carbon Capture in Meeting Net-Zero Carbon Goals.”
Cindy Yeilding, senior vice president (retired) for BP America, Houston, and a board member for both Denbury Inc. and the Center for Houston’s Future. She’s an AAPG award-winning geologist who is a previous Distinguished Lecturer and who recently presented the annual Foundation-sponsored Halbouty Lecture at IMAGE 2022. She also serves on the Jackson School of Geosciences at the University of Texas at Austin. Her lecture is titled “Wedges, Bridges and Hockey Sticks: Exploring the Energy Transition.”
Bad News, Good News
There is a bit of bad news, especially for those who remember past eras for the DL program: Once again, actual face-to-face touring remains unresolved, despite warm feelings for the approach that defined the program for decades.
The reasons why are practical, not academic, according to program overseers – health concerns, company policies and schedules continue to impact and restrict travel availability for the speakers.
The committee, Foundation leadership and AAPG staff continue to monitor travel conditions, and express hope that some visits can be considered, even if only on a spot basis as conditions allow.
But there’s also good news: All speakers once again will be available free of charge – at any time, to anyone, anywhere on Earth – via the AAPG website, thanks to the Foundation’s support.
The talks will be recorded, lightly edited and added to the website for viewing on a 24/7 basis.
The lecture recordings are under way – Alex Simms’ talk already is available – and all are expected to be on the website throughout the early fall season.
And the best news: Live virtual talks, including a Q&A with the speaker, can be arranged for groups by contacting [email protected]. Last year 20 groups from around the world took advantage of connecting virtually with a DL lecturer, giving nearly 1,240 people a “live” experience.
Watch this space and the AAPG website for release dates and additional information.