While showing gratitude is always appropriate, the end of the year is a natural time as our thoughts turn to the people and relationships we value most. I want to start off by thanking the chairs, staff and all volunteers who made November’s AAPG International Conference and Exhibition an excellent experience. Two qualities especially jumped out at me: First, the panel sessions consistently had top-notch experts and quite lofty company and government executives who could speak authoritatively and strategically to each of the session themes. Second, the number of countries represented in the International Pavilion was impressive. In addition, a group of about 10 Ukrainian geoscientists were sponsored to participate and some of them presented a poster. The program was well-balanced between content on core petroleum and on other energy resources. Well done!
On the personal side, on the way home I had the opportunity to visit the professor who originally inspired me to study geoscience and thank him in person. Dr. Bert Dickas was last year’s winner of the AAPG Geosciences in the Media Award based on books published after retirement. But before that, his National Science Foundation-funded summer program opened the eyes of hundreds of high school students, including me, to how fun and interesting geology could be. If your own teachers/mentors/role models/key colleagues who helped you in your career are still available to be thanked, perhaps this end-of-year period is a good time to do it. “Tempus fugit,” as Virgil said.
Nominations are Open for Honors and Awards
Another avenue for gratitude is to nominate a peer for the next round of AAPG Honors and Awards – nominations are now open! Which of your colleagues deserve to be recognized for giving their time and talents in service to our profession, and AAPG? Who made great contributions to energy geoscience (business, research, teaching, public service, journalism, outstanding leadership … )? See the announcement and Quick Reference Guide on AAPG Honors and Awards on page 4 in this EXPLORER; take note that nomination materials have a hard deadline of Jan. 15, 2024.
Gratitude to AAPG Groups
This month I’d also like to highlight and thank a selection of AAPG groups that are especially active in service to the membership.
First, you might have noticed that the Women’s Network has organized quite a few fun and informative webinars which tend to draw large attendance. Recent topics have ranged from “The Geology of Whiskey” to “Applied Biostratigraphy.”
Next, members of the House of Delegates and other volunteers are contacting suspended members who might have forgotten to pay this year’s dues; in past years, their efforts have yielded an impressive number of reinstatements.
Third, the Imperial Barrel Award Committee has made a major change to debut in January 2024: University teams may now choose projects in geothermal or CCUS in addition to petroleum exploration.
Fourth, the Division of Professional Affairs is busy repopulating its structure and will embark on a campaign to remind all qualifying AAPG members of the benefits of membership and certification.
Last but not least, the IMAGE ’24 committee is forming now. I have already observed how robustly the suggestions and feedback from the 2023 International Meeting for Applied Geoscience and Energy will be acted upon to create a better experience for all. Email me at [email protected] if you would like to volunteer in some capacity and I will pass it along to the organizers.
Reimagine and Re-Reimagine
Turning to the Reimagine AAPG initiative, I am happy to report that a significant improvement project is moving along at a rapid pace. As I have previously related, a Presidents Ad Hoc Committee in the first quarter of 2023 started with more than a decade’s worth of improvement suggestions from numerous earlier improvement committees, to propose a new structural model for AAPG that will be simpler, more transparent and more engaging for members. This was shown to about 40 elected AAPG leaders just prior to IMAGE ’23. In October I set up a blue-ribbon committee of member volunteers, several of whom are past House of Delegates chairs, to take the materials and feedback (including suggestions sent to the mailbox [email protected]) and turn them into an actionable proposal for delegates and members to consider over the first half of 2024. I am very grateful to those now serving on this time-bound improvement committee: John Hogg, John Kaldi, Jeff Lund, Valary Schulz, Bill Houston, Jim McGhay, Kristie Ferguson, David Entzminger and Ken Mohn, supported by Lee Krystinik and Andrea Reynolds who co-chaired the Q1 2023 committee. I will be communicating more about their work as it shapes up.
One realization just came to light in the Reimagine work that blew my mind. I already knew that the many prior study teams delivered broadly similar recommendations, for example, moving to a board structure. A consultant specializing in non-profits had long ago informed us that AAPG’s structure is quite dissimilar to other content-focused organizations and ill-suited to our mission.
But then a pair of articles from the Delegates Voice newsletter, published in June 2012, was sent to me. Most of the issues and recommendations for improvement could have been written yesterday! That means we are more than a decade late in following the advice of the expert consultant we hired and our own members’ best thoughts and ideas. Excerpts from those two articles are reprinted in accompanying sidebars and I highly recommend that you read them – perhaps they will surprise you as well.
At this point, tens of thousands of man-hours have been spent on designing, redesigning and re-redesigning a more fit-for-purpose AAPG. The results of that work by dedicated members and staff are many slides and summary reports with excellent suggestions, few of which were actually implemented. Let this be the leadership cycle in which we finally get on with it – let’s forgo the politics and refocus on the technical content, career advancement and peer fellowship that attracted us to AAPG in the first place.
For my last statement of gratitude, I want to thank you for sharing your thoughts, advice and kind words of support as we work on the AAPG of the future. Please keep sending them to [email protected] - every email is read and responded to. “Haec olim meminisse iuvabit,” to quote Virgil again.
Until next month,