The American Geological Institute joined with several academic and corporate partners to sponsor the 2006 Houston-Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (H-LSAMP) Conference, which was held at Texas Southern University on November 10-12, 2006. H-LSAMP is a partnership between the National Science Foundation, the University of Houston, Texas Southern University, Texas State University, Rice University, the University of Houston-Downtown, the University of Houston-Victoria, the Houston Community College System, the San Jacinto College District, the Houston Independent School District, and several regional corporations. These groups work together to increase the number of minority students earning baccalaureate degrees in science, technology, engineering, and mathematic (STEM) fields in the Houston area.
The three-day conference provided underrepresented minority students the chance to give oral and poster presentations on their current research, learn about potential internship and fellowship opportunities, gather information on graduate schools, and explore potential careers in STEM. AGI presented a workshop for students on geoscience careers that focused on how the other STEM fields are used in the geosciences and how these skills can be put to use in a geoscience career.
Speakers at the well attended workshop included three local geoscientists currently working in the petroleum industry and Juan Lorenzo, a Seismologist at Louisiana State University. Dr. Lorenzo talked to the students about the Geoscience Alliance to Enhance Minority Participation that provides opportunities for underrepresented ethnic minority students to participate in a summer program to expose them to geoscience research and careers. This summer program provides hands-on activities, courses, and field trips to see exciting geologic sites around the country. GAEMP is geared specifically to students who are not currently in geoscience undergraduate programs but have a potential interest in graduate programs in the geosciences.
Marsha Bourque is an Independent Contractor based in the Houston area, and serves as Chair of AGIâ€™s Minority Participation Program Advisory Committee. Ms. Bourque spoke to the students about her decision to pursue a career in the geosciences and how this decision has lead to a career with great opportunities to see the world. She talked about the excitement of working in the petroleum industry, about the satisfaction of shepherding an idea from formation to fruition, and the possibilities to work with a range of technically skilled people. In addition to talking about her career, Ms. Bourque also discussed the AGI Minority Participation Program and its more than thirty years of support for students pursuing degrees in the geosciences.
Jose Sequiera, an exploration geoscientist for ExxonMobil Development Company, spoke to the students about new technologies used in the petroleum industry. Mr. Sequiera talked about how exploration geologists could interact with the data collected for a potential well in virtual reality, similar to the technology used in many computer games. Scientists can literally grab data in this technology to investigate more closely. He also discussed how new communication tools made it possible for him to oversee the drilling of a well thousands of miles away in real time while working at his home in Houston.
Angel Curet, an exploration geoscientist for ExxonMobil, brought fossils from his home in Puerto Rico that spurred his interest in studying geology in college. Mr. Curet gave a short presentation to the students on where ExxonMobil is currently developing and provided a short overview of some basic geologic formations. He talked about how petroleum companies use seismic data to model the subsurface that is then used to select the locations of potential wells. He also discussed the health and education services that ExxonMobil does to provide to the communities in countries in which it works.