Geology Alumni Newsletter News Notes 2012
Bruce and Allen have summarized your letters, e-mails, and phone conversations. Thanks for updating us and telling us what you are doing. Please take a moment to tell us what you're doing if you haven't already. Information from you helps us assess the Geology Program. We do listen and appreciate your comments, whether critical or complimentary.
We still have a few people that we can’t find. If you have any clues contact us.
1960’s Own Abdali (‘68), Sultan Al-Somali (‘69), Ken Brace (’62)Peter Buchanan (‘64), William Miller ('62)
1970’s Aboullah Baroun (‘71), Daniel Larsen (’71), Dennis Stenger (’72)
1980’s James Mathews (‘83)
2000’s Charlotte Bennett-Allen (’04), Deni Harshman (‘05), Nicole Schmitt (“08), Sarah Henniger (’08)
Graduates by Year:
Gilbert Noice is “still with the National Park Service as a cadastral cartographer. I just got back from the Virgin Islands helping the National Park there with boundary issues. I was in Gunnison last September for my GHS 50th reunion and drove around WSC, a lot of changes, but not enough time to visit. This is my first time back since 1994.” You should stop by the department Gil!!
Michael Arndt - I finally contacted Michael Arndt, our long-lost Geology alum from 1966. He was the only Geology graduate in 1966 at the end of our first year here. Mike went on to get a PhD from Univ. of North Dakota and then spent some time at Rocky Flats and he’s now working in law enforcement out in Peyton, CO for his 3rd career.
Linda Barrett - Here’s from a person who knows how to retire: “I've put off replying to you because, mainly, people want to hear about people doing constructive things and making a contribution to mankind or something like that. I have done none of that. During the past year I have hiked Lascar volcano (18,340 feet) in Chile, done extensive hiking in the Atacama Desert and spent many days hiking in Patagonia. When I wasn't doing that, I was fishing in Florida in winter or boating and fishing on Vancouver Island in summer. On off days I play golf. Now I am training for an upcoming trip to climb Mount Kilimanjaro and golfing, of course.”
Danny Pavey - “graduated with a degree in geology in the fall of '68 but not before being "married" to his future bride Linda in the Shotgun wedding booth at Winter Carnival in the old student union. Linda's roommate knew that Linda had her eye on Dan and figured that was a good way to get them introduced to one another. That certainly worked. After graduating Dan joined with his Uncle Sam as a Combat Engineer and separated service as a 1st Lt. 3 1/2 years later. Upon separation from the service Dan went to work for the State of Alaska as a field geologist and traveled the state conducting pre-design investigations for new roads and airfields throughout the State of Alaska. Later he became the Foundation Geologist for the State of Alaska directing the field investigations for the State's bridges, retaining walls, harbors, landslides and similar projects. He finished his career as the State Department of Transportation's Chief Geologist. Together Dan and Linda built a log cabin on their remote property north of Talkeetna and now they are actively involved in building a new cabin adjacent to the original as well as repowering the aluminum river boat that Dan built last winter.”
“Linda graduated with an elementary education major and minors in instrumental music and geology. She worked in the Anchorage School District before opening her own early childhood education program touching the lives of many. Together Dan and Linda, through their church, have joined with numerous young adults over the past 15 years helping them learn some of the life skills that so many young adults seem to be lacking.”
“The Pavey's have two grown sons of whom they are very proud. The younger is working full time developing his employers Geographic Information System while completing his engineering degree while the eldest has become a respected computer animation specialist.”
We both thank Western for giving us the foundation that was necessary to meet the challenges of this world. Alaska has been good to us these past 42 years and we are still amazed each time we travel a river and see the beauty that surrounds us: bear, moose, eagles, amazing mountains, glaciers and the list goes on.”
Paul Ching is still in the Pacific Northwest and writes: “Just tell the guys I said hi and best regards!”
Mike Deming has now been retired for 5 years from the Bureau of Reclamation where he was an engineering geologist and construction manager. “These days I switched geology for genealogy looking for ancestors in the Colorado mining towns. I'll probably be up in Summit County late May early June at the Frisco Town Hall chasing out info on my great grandfather Deming and grandfather. They arrived in Frisco about 1888. My great grandfather started a ranch and my grandfather worked in the mines at Leadville until 1892. He started mining around Frisco in the early 1900's and had two mines he worked on Chief Mtn. just where you start up Ten Mile Canyon. My mothe’rs folks arrived in 1880 and started mining at Kokomo later moving over on the Eagle side and ranching near Piney Creek. I do lots of fishing, hunting and skiing.” That’s just what you did when you were here Mike!
Gary Dixon writes; “My life has gotten to be completely boring, by design. After 33 years with the USGS and another 11 years on my own, I decided to almost retire here on the Snake River Plain in Blackfoot, Idaho. I'm still trying to empty out file cabinets with outdated, delinquent publications that not many will find interesting to read, but will clear my conscience. I still am trying to reduce my golf handicap to single digits, but that is also a losing effort. My next trip to Gunnison will be in the summer and hope to get Tom and D. Vandenbusche on the course. That is, of course, if Duane hasn't thrown his clubs in the Dos Rios lake again.
Howard Fishman retired from Chevron in 2010 after 35 years (much of it in Midland, TX). He and his wife, Lynne live near Park City, UT. He is enjoying skiing in the winter and hiking in the summer. To keep busy he is also a math and science substitute teacher at Wasatch High and a mountain host at Park City Mountain Resort.
Dick Jones is “still tracking dinosaurs (editors note: Dick’s Mom and Dad were great dinosaur hunters and found the famous Dry Mesa dinosaur site which is one of the most prolific dino sites in the US– look it up in Wikipedia!). He is playing lots of bridge and still teaching and directing bridge on cruise ships – “Who said retirement wasn’t fun?”
Parker Sterner is, I believe, making his first appearance in our Newsletter. We had a great time visiting at Homecoming last year mostly talking about fishing and our rotator cuff surgeries. Here’s his story: “After graduating with a degree in Geology I spent 40 years in the fly fishing industry. I guess I did minor in fly fishing at Western. I retired three years ago and moved to Northern WI which had been our lake home for the past 44 years. Our oldest son, Justin, took over the reping business after I retired. Still fly fishing a lot and building boats, but doing it left handed. Hope to get out to Gunnison in the next year and doing some fishing with you.”
James Browne “had a wonderful skiing winter at Winter Park, Copper and Steamboat. But now reality check and I have to go back to work as the principle of Dastardly Deeds Ltd a Landscape Mtz business that I founded 25 years ago. Recently happily divorced after 18 years. Looking forward to life as a senior single person at 65 years young.”
Dr. Connie (Nuss) (Dodge) Knight writes as follows: “I have four degrees in the field of geology, including a PhD from the Colorado School of mines. What am I doing in the twilight of my career as a geologist, other than helping Bruce host great Western State geology alumni events? Mostly I’m a geologist; I’m somewhat of a petroleum landman; I’m somewhat of an engineer. I have interfaced with more attorneys within the past several years than ever in my life. In short, I am an oil and gas deal maker – a huckster. Of late I have been following up on some work that Bruce, Deirdre, and I began in 1981. During that “early” oil boom of my career, Bruce, Deirdre, and I teamed up to develop a sedimentologic play framework for the “Minturn Formation” in northwest Colorado. (Bruce and I were bouncing off the walls with excitement, and Deirdre was trying to contain us.) Over the past few decades, I have been intermittently updating our original work in light of new structural, source-rock, and resource-play concepts. About 10 years ago I asked Bruce if he was interested in joining me in acquiring northwest Colorado leases. Bruce respectfully and promptly declined. Earlier this month (February, 2012), I sold 10,000 acres of leases in northwest Colorado. I still own over 7500 acres with Minturn, Niobrara, and other potential plays. Any takers? Northwest Colorado possesses various underdeveloped resource plays. Our sleeper Minturn play is only one of them. (Editor: Rub it in Connie-How much would I have made?) On a personal note, I am married to Roger, a petroleum engineer who is also a graduate of the Colorado School of Mines. I have a son Nathan, who is an arborist. My daughter, Elisa is the mother of two wonderful grandsons. Roger has three children and seven grandchildren.
I have a passion for introducing our youth to the wonders of geology. In fact, a few years back, I was a guest in Bruce’s grandchild’s classroom. I am honored to report that last fall the RMAG awarded me the “Distinguished Public Service to the Earth Science Award.” I am probably one of the only grandmothers who mails rocks to her grandchildren on a regular basis.
Ken Snyder “Not much to report from Nevada. The gold business is doing very well, as one might expect. I retired years ago but have been drug out from under my rock a number of times (shortage of economic people world-wide). Doing a bit of consulting for a few Canadian companies and one Aussie group. Have resigned from various boards - not much fun, and they don't usually care what the rocks actually look like. My big complaint with all these companies is that their geologists don't bother mapping anymore (the majors are even worse). I can't fathom how they expect to correctly interpret geochemistry and geophysics without a good geological map. These kids prefer to just download some rough map from the internet and do a lot of guessing. I guess they pay me to bitch, and that's what I do best! Some foreigners aren't so receptive to my candor - last time in Turkey, I thought they might stuff me down a drill hole. Kind regards to all.”
Gary Dow retired from the Bureau of Reclamation in early 2007 and since then has been working on a project by project basis. He has worked at the Taum Sauk Dam in Missouri, “but spent most of 2010 working on Wyaralong Dam near Brisbane Australia. Very interesting place, lots of "roos" in the area: they get hit by cars there like deer here in the U.S. I then spent about 6 months in South Africa during the early 1/2 of 2011, accessing the potential foundation for a new nuclear plant on the south coast. It’s beautiful there, but not a place to swim without a wet suit. I've been temporarily retired since then being "soccer mom" for the grandkids. If all goes well I may get on with the Utah Geological Survey so I can work closer to home, if not I'm fine with soccer mom duties and an occasional Ski day at Snowbird or Alta. Hope all is well at Western.”
Tim Kelly writes: “The State Land Board has approved a deal with ConocoPhillips for $137 million for our Lowry Range in Arapahoe County (Niobrara play). I am preparing the final agreements and will be signing on behalf of the Children of Colorado nee State Land Board. Big project. Conoco has selected an engineer from Stavanger to head their team. This lease has 21,000 acres ($6,500/ac). “The Niobrara is keeping us very busy. I gave testimony before the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission regarding fracking under St. Vrain State Park in January (which they are leasing). Spent some of my vacation in Orlando digesting that EPA draft report on the Wyoming Pavillion Field, which they wanted to hear about relating to St Vrain. I did an injection well application in that field for Encana’s predecessor 15 years ago. My old stomping ground. There are 14 members on the CPW board and half had questions and you’re on record for this stuff. I had two pages of prepared remarks so it went well, all in all.”
George Podsobinski “Graduated 1972 with a Geology major and teacher’s license. 3 years for Jefferson Co. Schools in Lakewood. Moved to Canon City School for the rest of my full time career. MA in 1983 with 65 hours past Master's degree. Taught Geology, Physics and Earth Science for 30 years and retired in 2002. I taught for the local community college evenings until I retired in 2002 then during the day since '02 in Geology, Physics and Astronomy. I plan to retire again at the end of this semester.”
“Main hobby is motorcycling both road and dirt. My dirt bike is a Suzuki DR650 which I ride in the desert SW fall and spring and the Colorado Mountains in the summer. My road bike is a BMW which my wife and I take extended trips on. July our plan is a northern route to Nova Scotia.
Notable. . .taught Geology of the Green River by canoe for 5 days/4 nights to educators through CSM. I led a motorcycle trip through the mountains north of Gunnison touring the mines, geology and history.
Will never forget the "great three" geology profs I had at WSC (Prather, Menzer and Bartleson) they really sparked my interest and desire to major in Geology and stick with it throughout my career. I owe them for my 41 years of educating students in geology.” Thanks George!
Dr. Dave Lageson had a rather interesting spring to say the least. This is from the Montana State website: “Professor of Geology David Lageson and world-class mountaineer Conrad Anker will leave Bozeman March 18, 2011 for an expedition to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the first American ascent of Mount Everest. Lageson - who oversees Anker's graduate studies -- will climb the South East Ridge route of Everest with other team members who are sponsored athletes of The North Face, including MSU alumnus Kristoffer Erickson and MSU geology alumnus Travis Corthouts. If all goes as planned, the two teams will meet at the top of Mount Everest and descend together down the South East Ridge route. The mountain, sitting on the border between Nepal and Tibet, is the world's tallest mountain if measured from sea level to summit. The elevation is 29,035 feet, approximately six times higher than Bozeman.” “Lageson, 61, has climbed several 14,000-foot peaks in his home state of Colorado. He has climbed in the Teton Range in western Wyoming and numerous peaks in western Montana. His primary work on the expedition will focus on "telling the geologic story of Mount Everest" to schools throughout Montana, as part of an NSF EPSCoR-funded education/outreach program created by MSU's Extended University. In addition, Lageson is planning several research projects to help answer the many questions that remain about the geological history of Mount Everest. Lageson specializes in structural geology, the tectonics of mountain building, and the structural geology and tectonic evolution of the Rocky Mountains.” You can follow Dave’s progress at this website: http://www.montana.edu/everest/updates/index.htm
Charlie Ponchak ”Debbie and I still own and operate Kilbanes Cleaners & Tuxedo Rental with locations all over the Western Slope. San Juan Geological and Mining Consultants continue to grow and stay very busy. I have active clients from Florida, North Carolina, Nevada, California and Idaho to Arizona. I am primarily working on narrow fissure vein mining, milling and exploration. The most active areas currently are the Gunnison Gold Belt south of town and the Lake City-Silverton-Ouray triangle and the Uncompahgre Wilderness (Middle Fork of the Cimarron). It has been a very interesting nearly 40 years in the business.
” Charlie, Did you know I rented a tuxedo from your Gunnison shop for Peter Dea’s, ’76, award banquet as “Wildcatter of the Year?”
Marty Wittstrom “I left India in early 2010 and started working here in Calgary pretty much right away. I had thought that I would go back to Denver and join the shale gas over investment craze, but this opportunity opened up before anything there. The last thing I did for Reliance, the Indian company, was line-up their acquisition of a large Marcellus deal in PA. I was in Brazil the week of homecoming. I have made several trips there this year to build relationships and open an office for a Canadian independent. I have been nosing around Colombia and Peru as well, but for now there is more bang for the buck in Brazil… at least for our goals. I will bring an acquisition vessel to Brazil at the end of the year and will hope to survey the entire deep-water portion of Brazil in the next couple of years… about 1MM km2. I’ll send you some slides in a couple of weeks. Right now I need to prepare another presentation for Petrobras, who has also expressed a lot of interest and with whom I hope to sign a joint deep-water exploration deal by the end of the year. We shall see”…
Steve Craig “I continue to live a good life in Reno Nevada as I have lived here since 1986. This past summer I left Gryphon Gold to take a new job with El Tigre Silver Corp as Vice President of Exploration. While in Gryphon I handled all the geologic aspects of the company and was responsible for gaining all the environmental permits for construction of the new Borealis heap leach gold mine. That part drove me crazy so I quit and switched to exploration and development of a silver project in Mexico. Now I travel down to Hermosillo once a month, eat fresh tropical fruit and sea food before heading out to the "wilderness" where the project is located. Nothing like camp living with modest menus of beans and some sort of strange meat (where is the dog?). When in Reno I prepare press releases, technical reports, and presentation material. I enjoy the travel to many investment conferences to represent the company. On a personal note, I remarried 3 years ago, am a first time grandfather, have two demanding puppy dogs, and taking care of Mom's final years. I travel to Leadville occasionally to check on the old family house, which is sitting empty and lonely. I still ski, gave up white water kayaking around 2005 after my last Class 5 run in Idaho, and I grow piles of tomatoes and zucchinis in the summer. Western State College gave me a career where I have not "worked' a day and I believe that "Life is good and enjoy everything that comes along".With warm regards,” Steve.
Ray Hensley “Since I’m now a certified California State Water Resource Control Board Trainer, I think if have found something to retire on since construction dumped three years ago.My wife Anna and I have started my last business; Stormwater Central, Inc. My keen business sense told me to start a storm water consulting business in Southern California, and now we have had about 1.5” of rain this winter. If things don’t pan out I may open an offshore drilling consulting business in Gunnison. Need investors! Fond memories to all; Ray”
June and Bob Just “June did 16 years at Marathon Research center involved mostly in seismic modeling and processing, some interpretation. She also did lots of cool clay analyses, core descriptions, well log, core, seismic modeling integration. It is hard to put 16 years of super interesting work into words. I was so incredibly fortunate to land on my feet there, every day was interesting. I have now been with GeoGraphix for almost 18 years (impossible!) mostly supporting the geophysical interpretation package known as SeisVision but also other GeoGraphix modules. Bob also worked for Marathon Research and then in exploration for (mostly) natural gas for some time before ending up working as a geologist advising Indian tribes for the BIA. Bob and I have 2 great kids. Kelly, an elementary teacher, and Eric, an agricultural worker and world traveler. Bob and I have been married 39 years! Oh God, that sounds too out of this world to be true! We live near the Denver Tech center and really enjoy having geology friends come visit…so come on by anytime! I enjoy biking, both road and mountain biking, hiking, skiing, camping and all the same outdoor adventures that lured me to WSC.”
Pete Bergmann “I am a couple years into retirement having spent my last 8 years working years as Superintendent of schools for Moffat County School District in Craig, CO. My first job was teaching Earth Science in Craig in 1977. My wife Deb and I never left. We raised our family, son Chris & daughter Lauren in Craig. Deb retired after 30 years of teaching elementary school and my son Chris teaches science in Fort Collins. Check out his website - https://bergmannscience.wikispaces.com/ - damn good teacher! My daughter Lauren is a kindergarten teacher in Craig, CO. Both kids are married; we have our first 9 month old granddaughter. We are still living in Craig, but also have a place in Loveland CO close to our granddaughter. I have done some consulting, but mostly we have been playing! Rafting, skiing, backpacking, biking, etc. I now have time to pursue a couple of passions: ceramics, photography, and archeology of NW Colorado. I see Jeff Holway annually either in CO or IL. Will ski with him in March. Also play with sister Mary quite often. Bruce, I know you keep in touch with her also. She said she had a great time with you during the Pro Cycle event last summer. Life is good! I love waking up to only my agenda every day. Will touch base the next time we are in Gunny.
Fred Conrath “I currently work at the BLM Arizona State Office and I am the Lead Geologist for the BLM in Arizona for the mineral material and the solid and fluid mineral leasing programs. The specifics of my job include budget responsibilities, developing policy and guidance and technical expert for the aforementioned programs. I am the liaison between the Arizona staff and the Washington Office staff and perform oversight on the field office geologists. I also work on performing validity exams on common vs. uncommon variety mining claims. Karen is also a BLM geologist and she deals with mineral material and locatable mining issues, including mine permitting, enforcement, and royalty collection. She is currently working out of the Lower Sonoran Field Office in the Phoenix District. Katie is now 24 years old and she is working on her graduate level public health certificate at CU’s Anschutz Medical Campus in Denver. Tomorrow she is interviewing for the Master of Physicians Assistant program at Rocky Mountain College, where she graduate in 2009 with a BS degree in pre-med biology.
I really like Phoenix, because I can sit outside year round in my new courtyard and I also ride my mountain bike and road bike year round. Karen, not so much, she is not used to the heat. We live on the very north edge of town and I can ride my bikes out of my garage without having to drive anywhere. I have flexibility in my job, so I leave for work at 5:30 AM and leave work at 2:30 PM to take advantage of the HOV lanes. Being a small town guy I do not relish sitting in traffic jams, so I had a paradigm shift and shifted my awake hours. It turned out to be a boon for me as I can ride every day after work since it never rains here (maybe 4 times a year). We are also building a swimming pool which should be done before Thanksgiving. That should help with the four months of extreme summer heat. Can’t wait to use it. Deirdre and I had a great time visiting with Fred and Karen in January (when it was cool) – Thanks again for a great time!
Elliott Crist “I’m still in Reno and trying to consult a little less. Sometimes I am successful at this and sometimes not. Clients can be very persuasive. Lately, I've been working in New Mexico on a porphyry copper prospect. I started out my career looking for these beasts, so I guess it is time for my career to have run full circle. It's interesting to change model types from time to time and porphyries are among the most interesting of all mineralizing systems. Other than work and normal day to day necessities and routine activities Debbie and I have done some traveling and will escalate this activity. We went to Spain a couple of years ago which was a great trip. We spent two weeks exploring Andalusia (Southern Spain) and want to go back to explore Northern Spain sometime, maybe when the politics settle down a bit. It was pretty neat seeing all of the amazing historical architecture and the 17,000 year old paintings in a cave that they allow only lantern light. Last summer, we took a canoe trip down the white cliffs section of the Missouri River. It was great. We went in early August so one really wanted to be camped under a big cottonwood tree by 2:00 in the afternoon, but there were a lot of interesting hikes to take after the day started to cool. I didn't know that many bald eagles existed. The geology is pretty, one accompanies the White Cliffs Sandstone, only about 100 feet thick, for most of the trip and there are a few thrust faults just to throw a few wrinkles in the works. Shale underlies the White Cliffs and makes the most disgusting gray ooze. We could only imagine what it was like for the Lewis and Clark party to wade upstream towing heavy boats behind them sinking in a foot or more most of the way. I always figured those guys were tough, but one has to retrace their steps to understand just how tough. Of course we were paddling with a 3+ mph current in trim canoes and hardly had to work to make 15 miles a day. I don't think I ever told you about another canoe expedition that my family took about 10 years ago. I remembered the San Juan River trip from WSC days that ended in Mexican Hat and decided that it would be neat to continue the trip on down toward the reservoir. We got to the put in and almost abandoned the idea, even after driving from Reno. The water level was atrociously low. We decided we could make it in the canoes and inflatable kayaks but wrapped a canoe permanently on a rock about 10 miles downriver on a 50 mile trip. We could have made it out with the remaining craft, but we ran into another party with a heavy raft that was nearly impossible to portage with 2 people and with the low water, there was a lot of portaging. So we made some fast friends and traveled together. We found out we were the only craft on that section of the river when we were picked up 3 days later. We had read about the fern covered amphitheaters and other beautiful hikes that had been reported by many only a few years earlier, but the drought had wiped the walls clean except for a few petroglyphs. It was still a great trip and I would recommend it if the water is higher. That brings you up to date. In short, trying to figure out how best to spend the last 30 years or so (hopefully) on this earth. Adventure is at the top of the list.”
John Danahey is still at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal after 20 years! Good to see you in Golden John!
Peter Herzberg is retired in Corning, NY where wife Tina Oldknow is Curator of Modern Glass at the famous Corning Museum of Glass. Check out their website: http://www.cmog.org/about. They travel frequently to Europe and especially Scotland. Peter writes that he’s looking forward to relocating somewhere in the West in the near future.
Jeff Holway “After graduating from Western in 1975 I married Karen who was also a 1975 Western grad. I went on to get an MS in geology and an MBA from Arizona State. In 1978 I took a job with a big bank in Chicago, primarily making loans to energy and mining companies. Karen and I have three boys ages 20-26. We live in Deerfield, Illinois which is a suburb of Chicago. Over the years the bank where I worked was gobbled up by JP Morgan and my position metamorphosed into one of a partner in their private equity business. That business was focused on buying mid sized companies across all industries. I joined several co-workers in 2005 to start Water Street Healthcare Partners which is a private equity business focused exclusively on the healthcare sector. Although I no longer use my geology background in my career (with the exception of the excellent discipline), we do like to travel and see (and sometimes actually understand) landforms around the world. Karen and I are just back from a trip to New Zealand where we got up close and personal with volcanoes and glaciers. Hope to see some Westerner's soon.”
Ron Thoreson - After graduating from Western in 1975, I went on to complete my MS degree at the University of Idaho. After completing my studies at the U. of I. my wife and I moved to Elko, Nevada were we spent the next 18 years working at various mines out of Elko and Carlin. Most of the early years were spent in exploration around the Freeport Mining Co.'s Jerritt Canyon Mine and Newmont Mining Co.'s Rain Mine. My final 10 years there were spent as Senior Mine Geologist at the Rain Mine and Newmont's portion of the Post/Betzie mine. I then transferred to Newmont's newly acquired Twin Creek Mine. Where I spent the next 4 years. In 2001 I left Mining and purchased a Papa Murphy's Pizza Restaurant in South Reno. There is nothing like getting out of your comfort zone and trying something totally different. We opened our second store north of Sparks, Nevada in Spanish Springs in February of 2010. We are lucky to have a great staff at our first store (2 have been with us for over 10 years and one just reached 6 years) to take care of business so that Barb and I can concentrate on building the business in the new store. We are having a great time and we have been able to take some time to go the the southern latitudes each year. Barb and I have 4 sons and at the moment we have 9 grandchildren and step-grandchildren. We geographically cover the continent with our oldest living in Jacksonville, Fla., our next oldest lives in Post Fall, Idaho, our third son lives in Phoenix, AZ., and our youngest lives in the Reno area. Our oldest son and his wife just had their 3rd son in December 2011 and our second oldest son and his wife are expecting their latest child this July. So my wife is racking up the frequent flyer miles to go visit all the grandbabies.
Stu Cohen “I'm retired living on Vallecito Lake. Doing my best to accomplish the "ings" in life. Hiking, skiing (telemarking with some younger guys who can break a trail), biking, golfing, kayaking, sailing and looking to add to the list as I acquire more toys. Vote to legalize Pot, it got us through those Gunnison winters and makes all the "ings" doable.”
Peter Dea writes: “On the adventure side of life, Cathy and one of our sons, Austin, and I spent two weeks in Bhutan trekking into the Himalaya's within ten miles of Tibet last fall. Austin, WSC PLRM '10, works as a landman for Noble and brother Drake as landman for Cirque Resources. Cort studies screen acting and business at Chapman University when not studying abroad(s) in New Zealand. My annual 100 mile week long Roundup Riders of the Rockies horseback trip (150 guys including 6 WSC grads), took us into the NW San Juan's near Owl Ck Pass and Big Cimmaron Ck - spectacular Tertiary towers. In 2012 we ride through the Big Horns. Cathy and I found steep un-tracked powder on our annual heli-ski trip to the Monashee and Cariboo Ranges in BC in February. At Cirque Resources we continue to drill wildcat exploration wells targeting tight oil reservoirs with horizontal drilling in the Rockies. Board seats include Encana, N. America's 2nd largest natural gas producer, and Denver Museum of Nature and Science. The DMNS geology team excavated the single most significant Mastodon discovery in NA, the last two falls in Snowmass (see dmns.org). Bruce and Deirdre joined us for the dig one weekend. I serve as Vice Chair for the Western Energy Alliance and the Alliance for Choice in Education; member of the Colorado Forum; and on advisory boards of WSC PLRM and Colorado Fiscal Planning Team; and the Governor Hickenloopers' Canadian Ambassador Group and TBD Colorado. Never a dull moment”.
Editors note:Peter left off one rather important events in his life. In May of 2010, he was selected as the “Wildcatter” Of The Year” by the Independent Petroleum Association of the Mountain States.
Cathy Hedin McNeil “Life has essentially come full circle for me, except that the circle is actually a spiral in 3 dimensions. I am a ski bum again, and am an older, (hopefully wiser) and slightly less altered version of who I was in the 70’s. My husband, Mike, and I still own the ranch in the San Luis Valley that has been in his family since the 1800’s but now we lease almost all of it to a 3rd party. We have kept a handful of cows and still have a scaled down version of our direct market grass fed beef business, with mostly wholesale accounts in the San Luis Valley and Gunnison Valley. We now rent an apartment in Mt. Crested Butte where we stay for a good part of the year and I’m getting around 60 -70 days of skiing per year for the past 5 years. I do appreciate having lift service to be able to ski all the extreme terrain we used to only be able to access by hiking. (Part of getting older).I also play bass guitar in a rock and roll band in C.B., Better Late Than Never, with WSC alum, Bill Dowell, frequently touring the Gunnison Valley between Butte 66, The Talk of the Town, and the Last Chance. (It really is a full circle but yet a step up the spiral). In the summer you can find me in C.B. on Sundays, peddling grass fed beef at the Crested Butte Farmers’ Market. Our daughter, Kelly, is all grown, graduated from WSC, and is now a CPA at a firm in Alamosa. She owns her own house, and will hopefully make enough money to eventually support her parents in their ski bum-hedonistic lifestyle in a manner in which we would like to become accustomed (with frequent trips to tropical places during the winters when it is a crappy snow year like this one but still dreadfully cold in the SLV). I no longer do anything related to geology, which I do miss, but don’t really miss working in the mining industry. My last foray into that world was quite a few years ago when I was forced to spend a day at the U.S. Dept. of Justice (Denver) while they questioned me about my work at Summitville (superfund site) as they built their case against Galactic and Friedland. (At least they let me time it in conjunction with a Don Henley concert at Red Rocks I was already planning to attend, and so I had my hotel room cost reimbursed). Even with grey hair and wrinkles life is good!”
Denis Hall “still lives in Crested Butte where he is now semi-retired. He says semi-retirement means he still does the same stuff, but now doesn't feel as guilty about doing it. Geology remains a great love in his life and he considers himself very fortunate to live in the middle of the laboratory where he studied. He doesn't drive to Gunnison to annoy his horse without thinking about the Jct. Creek-Precambrian contact at Almont. And he never rides his mountain bike at Hartman Rock without thinking about the ring dike and trying to discern its varying composition. Old habits die hard.”
Al Clough writes in from Alaska: “Until about a year ago I was “living the dream” flying float and wheel planes in SE Alaska. I commonly got to fly fellow Geology Alum Tim Hall as he commuted to a mine development project in adjacent Yukon, Canada. All changed last winter with a call from Alaska Department of Transportation. Now have job as Regional Director for Southeast Region Alaska Department of Transportation. This means I have roads, airports, various marine facilities, and public buildings to construct and maintain stretching from Yakutat to Hyder. It’s not quite as much fun as flying but as a consolation we have a cannon to conduct avalanche control in the Juneau area. Shooting down avalanches with a 105mm howitzer is almost as much fun as flying. Life is good, our ski area has a 200” base, and the days are getting longer.”
Colleen (McShane) Cope “I really love working with students in earth science education in Fort Collins. Being part of their world is an experience like no other. Teaching about the earth “as a system” has expanded me into the fields of astronomy, weather and climate, and oceanography. Along with teaching, I’ve worked with the Colorado State Climatologist for two years creating science videos about weather concepts using students as actors. I’ll be starting a new project with a leading atmospheric science researcher at CSU to develop climate science modules for high school. I’m a wife of 22 years and mother of two teenage sons. We spent 12 days together rafting the Grand Canyon after our oldest son graduated from high school – a magical, spiritual experience for all of us. If this sounds corny I don’t mind (I’m getting more sentimental as the years go by) but I treasure those days at Western and how they impacted our lives -- greatly! Thanks to Bruce and Tom.”
Gail Case Davidson “ After working 7 years for Homestake Mining, 1st in Gunnison and then in SE Utah, the mining bust of the early 1980s landed me back in Gunnison where I’ve worked for the City of Gunnison for the past 30 (gasp!) years. I started in engineering and now have been the City Clerk for the past 10 years. This affords me the opportunity to be a part of this fantastic community. My husband Kevin and I get back to the mesas and slot canyons of Utah at every opportunity! PS – Rob Fillmore’s CO Plateau book is awesome!”
Bob Dickerson is “coming up on his 10th year anniversary working with S.M. Stoller Corp, an environmental consulting company specializing in radioactive waste sites of the DOE. During this time Bob has conducted surface mapping and subsurface structural and geohydrological studies at Yucca Mountain, on the Nevada Test Site, and at CNTA in Nevada, and at Pantex in the Texas Panhandle, all for the DOE. Additionally, Bob has been conducting various geomorphology, paleoclimate, paleohydrology, and geoarchaeology studies for the US Air Force in support of cultural resource management at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada. Much of the Yucca Mountain research and some of the Air Force work has resulted in dozens of published USGS geologic maps and publications, Air Force publications, abstracts, and some journal articles. Bob and his wife Pam continue to climb rock and ice together as well as work as river guides in the summer. Bob and his son Will continue to practice Tae Kwon Do together, with Will having earned his deputy black belt and Bob having earned his First Dan black belt.”
Lauren (Hart) Ellison “I’m still in Durango working at the BOCES. I’m transition Coordinator for Special Ed. youth and also managing a mentoring program for at-risk high school youths. Recently married to a music teacher (Carl), and we both like to travel, ride the horses in summer and camp in the mountains. This last winter was about broken bones from a bicycle wreck and no skiing, but hoping for a better next winter. I still ride every summer in Gunnison County.!”
Freddy Frankel Freddy is still with Chevron (originally with Texaco) and I hope he won’t mind me reporting that he “won the esteemed Chevron Chairman’s award for his efforts on getting Chevron to buy into the Marcellus play with a multi-billion purchase of Atlas and subsequent acquisitions.
Recognition from the majors like that is very rare so this is very significant.” (from Peter Dea, ’76).
Freddy also reports “I’m still in the NATO team (North American Tight Oil) and looking at what makes those plays work or not – fairly interesting since natural gas is going to be $1 pretty soon…I made a presentation to the Chinese - with a translator – 45 slides took 2.5 hours !
Rod McCabe “Not much happening here. I've been working on robotic devices lately on my own. I call myself a re-inventor. Everyone re-invents the wheel but I re-invented a temperature controlled push button faucet and shower controls. There are plenty of patents out there that cover this but I wanted one so I built it. Every generation gets lazier so I figure robotics is a good place to be. Not real exciting but that what’s up with me. I also collect SS now. Rod (sheepman)”
Kimla McDonald is “Still doing the same work as a midwife, I've brought about 600 babies into the world so far. Staying active in environmental politics and Native American rights as a founding board member of the 25-year old non-profit group The Cultural Conservancy (website is nativeland.org--check it out!). I am most proud of my son who is a freshman at Brown University and my daughter who is working for the Community Resource Exchange in New York City. Still living in Washington DC and enjoying my trips back to Colorado and New Mexico--recently went cross country skiing near the Rawah Wilderness and saw the only real snow of the winter. I would love to come back to Gunnison to see the new Taylor Hall, where I spent many, many years working and studying. Thanks for keeping everyone in the loop!”
Malcolm Pierce writes in from the highest town in Colorado: “My education was good to me. Worked in the 'field' all over the place - New Mexico (w/ Fred Frankel), Texas, Denver, Australia, Oman , Denver – First minerals , then O&G , then O&G software. I am now retired near Alma, CO. I have a lot / Palapa down in Baja (Los Barilles) where I spend part of winter. I'm always up for a hike, bike or camp or. - let me know!”
Tom Pronold “Tom is working on a new play in Kansas that he stumbled upon ( a lot of good things come that way) while well sitting. He describes it this way - “Speaking of dirty work, this play came about while I sat 5 wells on this project because I wanted to. And at this stage in my career, committing to do well site work is similar to 17 year old Katniss Everdeen committing herself to death in the Hunger Games, a popular movie and a book I just finished. I believe that you have to rub your nose in it once in a while to stay sharp.” “Also, I did attend a technical talk presented by our local geologic society featuring Oklahoma City consultant, Kurt Rottmann, ’72. Do you remember him? I went up after the talk and exchanged memories. I'm sure he doesn't get many WSC grad's in his audience around here. A very good talk, I might add, on a difficult topic-the Mississippian of Kansas and northern OK.”
Doug Taylor “I have had two wonderful careers in underground mining, living in Colorado, Montana, Alaska and now Nevada. We raised two wonderful kids, Michael and Emily. Unfortunately, I don’t see many WSC alums but I think of Gunnison and Colorado frequently.” Doug – you aren’t too far from Ken Snyder, ‘71 over in Elko and just a little more to the bright lights of Reno, where Laura Ruud, ’82 can put you in touch with everybody.
Gene Urie “Still working as a consulting geologist doing gold exploration in Nevada in the summers and as an avalanche forecaster/ski patrol in the winters at Alpine Meadows, CA. Married to Susan (Cole) Urie (WSC BA Biology, ’78.” Just to make me jealous Gene always sends pictures of his winter Caribbean cruises on his sailboat. What a life for a former ski bum!
Eric Bard “has a son in college at Portland State Univ., OR and getting very good grades! I am working putting well logs with seismic data creating attributes to image interesting geology.”
Jeff Dark I had a really nice chat with Jeff at the Golden alumni party this fall. We talked quite a while and I reminded him how much Tom and I appreciated his talk on the Mancos Shale on one of our spring field trips many years ago. He was the last speaker on the last day after a long drive and Jeff got out of the van and said (with that slightly southern fried accent of his) “That’s the Mancos over there, but everybody is really tired and nobody wants to hear me talk about a bunch of mud.” We gave him an A+.
Ed Devenyns “I’ve been in Reno NV since 1984 and in the minerals industry since I graduated from WSC in 1978 with a double major in Geology and Business. I'd say I've always been on the administration side of the Mineral Industry having worked for major mining companies as well as junior exploration companies in positions from President, Vice President, Corporate Development and Director of Lands. I am presently on the Advisory Board for a Canadian junior exploration company with projects in Nevada and Mexico and Land Manager for a producing copper mine in Arizona. As you know Nancy and I have also had several other businesses along the way and she still does providing the concessions for Hot August Nights in Reno. Dave Ernst and I are still partners in an exploration property we located in 1984 which is being explored by a company that has it leased. The last 34 years have flown by. Nancy and I are still married; we have three daughters: Katie, 21 graduating from UNLV this May with a degree in Criminal Justice (plans for law school); Morgan and Paige (both 18) graduating from high school in June; Morgan is going to Boise State this fall and Paige Truckee Meadow Community College in Reno. It's been quite a while since I've been back there and as a result I have a 35 acre parcel in the Round Mountain at Roaring Judy Ranch that I'd like to sell if you know of an interested party. Great to hear from you Bruce, hello to Tom and Deirdre, and give me a call the next time you are in Reno. Best regards,
Greg Embery “I'm doing well, staying busy. I'm working on an offshore project in Namibia and we have a heavy oil (CHOPS) project in Canada. I Just drilled two successful wells with seven more in the hopper. How's everything back in Gunnison? Hope you’re doing well and stay in touch."
Mark Fernandes “Life is good. Still living in CT but getting ready to move to VT. My Son Justin is working and playing in the Pacific Northwest and daughter Elise, kind of working in Beaver Creek CO. Wife Donna getting ready to retire from teaching HS science. I am running my own company doing mainly telecommunications construction throughout New England. I’m in process of building new home in Wardsboro, VT. Hope to be living there by 2013.”
Pam Klessig “As an update, last year I continued on with the company (Concordia Resources) on a retainer as a consultant. I also serve on the board of Concordia and of Kirkland Lake Gold. In addition, I am a board member on a non-profit – Food Bank of Northern Nevada. I’m still trying to decide what I am going to do with the rest of my life besides hiking and walking with the dog. Pretty blasé overall. I’m sure something will happen one of these days but right now I’m in a holding pattern”. Pam was also endangered by a big fire in Reno last fall which almost, but not quite, took her house.
Myra (Vaag) Lugsch “Consulting work in the oil and gas industry didn’t last, as usual, so Myra is now working for Formation Environmental in Boulder. The company is small and the work is interesting—groundwater monitoring and field investigations at several phosphate mines in Idaho, a former copper smelter and refinery in Montana, and a processing plant in Wyoming. She is also working on a natural resource damage assessment of the Lower Willamette River in the Portland Harbor area. Now that twins Mitch and Dean are in middle school, there are fewer volunteering opportunities at school. However, the kids schlepping has increased dramatically (swim team, baseball, basketball, lacrosse, movies, youth group, etc.). Myra, Bill, and the boys spend time together skiing (they ran into Ken Nibbelink at Steamboat when they happened to share a gondola car last year), bicycling, and taking summer road trips to see the National Parks and National Monuments in the western U.S. The alumni gathering at Connie’s house in Golden last fall was fun—great to see so many old friends!”
Larry Moyer “I am still doing a combination of geologic consulting and oil and gas prospect generation. Promoter is not a pejorative term in my vocabulary. I have also been teaching a class in Energy Development for the Petroleum Land Management curriculum in the Business Department at Colorado Mesa University – being a Western guy at heart, the politics and pretension are amazing. Further, I am also an instructor for PetroSkills in Basic Petroleum Geology. This means teaching mostly young engineers and business types. It takes a while to get them to understand that profanity and vulgarity are considered art forms in the world of the Petroleum Geologist. I am just getting up to speed with this outfit. I have been in Grand Junction since 1987. With all of the data and internet now, it is much easier to be here on the frontier. An amazing number (by west slope standards) of geologists are relocating here. For the first time ever, the Grand Junction Geological Society will host the AAPG Rocky Mountain Section Meeting in September. I still try to work on exploratory type projects and now realize after 34 years that I am barely competent to be involved.”
Carol Ostergren “Hello friends, Life is great here in northern California, my job is still fun every day and I still learn new stuff every day and have wonderful partners for data development of a geospatial type--imagery, elevation, hydrography and so forth, that supports science work across the agency and beyond. I travel as much as I can, not usually far, but last week to central Florida to make friends with a new 2-month-old niece. I take my 14-yr-old son with me when I can, and show him the colleges nearby so he remains motivated on the academic front (between soccer games and video games). Other recent travel: Boise, Salt Lake, San Diego, Phoenix, High Lonesome Ranch in SW Colorado, Minneapolis, Hawaii, and lots of local spots--Tahoe, Fresno, Redding, Yosemite, Reno. I had a really fun reunion with Pam Klessig ‘78 (thank you, Pam!) in Reno a few months ago, total blast and really took me back to the Western days of study and debauchery. I get to Reno and Las Vegas more frequently now, so maybe we can make it a bigger gathering next time. I hope everyone is doing well and happy and healthy and prosperous. I love to hear what you all are doing.”
Paul Rady “has lived for the last 30 years in the Denver area, working for Amoco, Barrett, Pennaco and now Antero. Antero has grown to be a large private company based in Denver. They have been a part of the "Shale Revolution" with the Barnett, Woodford, Fayetteville, and now Marcellus shales. Antero will spend more than $1B this year drilling and acquiring shales. Antero's geologic staff boasts a number of WSC Geology graduates, including Andrew Wood ‘04, Jason Eliassen ‘02, Josh Shaw ‘02 and Rebekah Parks ‘11. Paul attributes a lot of his success to the outstanding education he received at Western. Paul and Katy have four young daughters at home. Paul spends his free time helping raise their youngsters, coaching girls’ soccer, and riding his road bike. He has ridden his bike in Europe for the last twelve summers with his two older sons, Tim and Jeff, who are also WSC grads.”
Janie Chermak "Still at the University of New Mexico and was promoted to Full Professor 2007. I've been an Associate Editor for Water Resources Research since 2009. Most of my research is still in energy and in water (right now I'm working on shale gas well production). I've had the opportunity to be on a couple of interesting review panels in the last few years (The National Research Council's Committee on Understanding the Impact of Selling the U.S. Helium Reserve and last fall, the review panel for the Economics Sustainability Plan for the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta for the California Delta Science Panel). Very diverse groups of people and really interesting work but more cool than any of that to me is that one of my PhD students received the Popejoy Prize for outstanding dissertation at the University of New Mexico in 2010. He's now at the Naval Postgraduate School in my old department. Another thing I'm having fun doing is that I have an affiliation with the Global Energy Management Program at the University of Colorado-Denver and teach a course on global energy markets. All the students are in the energy industry. They're challenging, they're enthused, and they get excited about all sorts of things. I really enjoy that. Things outside of work? I garden, I run, I like to travel and I'm a political junkie.”
Ken Nibbelink “Well not much new, just that I got married a year ago to Stacy and have an 8 month old little baby girl named Brooke. We live in Steamboat Springs and I travel 1/2 time to Houston for work. I'm Chief Geologist for Hyperdynamics where we are exploring for oil in a large deep water block in Guinea, West Africa.”
Kevin Taylor “I left Terracon Consultants, Inc. after 7.5 years and moved to Olsson Associates in Golden heading up their soil and groundwater remediation group servicing the energy sector. Peg is counting the days to retirement from teaching. My son James (Western geology grad 2008) is putting the finishing touches on his Master’s thesis. He has a position secured with Noble Energy in Denver in their exploration division.”
Lindie Brewer is working with Denver Water in the engineering department.
Larry Coats is in hotel management and gets around to various great resorts like Beaver Creek and in the Bahamas. Like me he’s had trouble with knees (hasn’t everyone?) and had various surgeries and is expecting replacements in the near future.
Carol (Mooney) Hogsett “I continue to work at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) as a Senior Recruiter and Student Liaison for the High Performance Computing and Information Technology organizations. Love my job! I have the opportunity to travel to many universities in search of the best and brightest college students in Computer Science, Information Assurance, and IT to come to LANL for internship opportunities. It’s very rewarding to be able to see these students grow into real jobs at LANL, and begin their careers at the nation’s top national laboratory. We have the world’s fastest and largest computers in the world and the opportunities for students to work in this environment are exceptional. My husband, Vic, and I love living in northern New Mexico. We will celebrate our 15 years of marriage this year! We live in a rural area north of Santa Fe and love the culture, food, and environment here. And it’s just a short jaunt to Gunnison and the southern reaches of Colorado. We just returned from a fantastic vacation to Panama, where we stayed for 1 week at a coffee plantation (excellent coffee!) at the base of the Volcan Baru, in Boquete, Panama. The geology of this area is very interesting, and I spent quite a bit of time checking out beautiful walls of columnar joints. After a wonderful stay there, we moved along to the Bocas del Toro area, Isla Bastiamente, where were stayed another week at an incredible Eco-lodge (Al Natural). Then moved along to Panama City where we were able to watch ships move through the Panama Canal – an amazing engineering accomplishment.
I continue to dabble in geology by leading various groups through the Jemez Mountains to learn about the Jemez Volcano. Many years ago, I had an opportunity to teach Geology at a small Liberal Arts College in Minnesota – Gustavus Adolphus College – and I still maintain a relationship with their faculty. The geology instructor at GAC has asked me to lead a field trip for Spring Break this year through the Jemez and the Harding Pegmatite Mine, a small group of 15. They will be returning through New Mexico after spending a week in Canyonlands, Utah. Sound familiar? I am really looking forward to the geology interactions! Vic and I also do some interesting archeology/paleo-astronomy studies with a friend of ours on some significant petroglyphs in and around the Pajarito Plateau. The ancient Indians around here were pretty smart when it came to measuring solar events, solstice and equinox. I am very fortunate to be able to share Christmas Eve almost every year with some dear friends from WSC Geology Department – Kevin Taylor and Scot Donato. What fun we have and fond memories we share from WSC. And of course Facebook has many WSC friends to keep track of. If New Mexico is in your future plans, I hope that you will make contact with me! email@example.com and on FB. All the best – Carol (Mooney) Hogsett”
Fritz Merz “Still at ExxonMobil after 31 years and now overseeing our capability development on Unconventional Resources – to the rest of industry it is not “Unconventional”, just Shale Gas and Tight Oil! Our purchase of XTO has brought us into this arena and we are all coming up the learning curve. I find these resources very exciting and it has the feel of the early 80’s again. Those darn Colorado Geologists beat everyone to the party again! Now that I reached my milestone B-Day where I can leave EM with full retirement I would like to try and get back to Colorado again and finish off my career where I started! I am re-married to a wonderful lady from Lithuania for the last 4 years who was in Houston doing medical research and currently getting her Master’s degree in nursing. I have a 12 year old stepson and 18 year old teenager who hopefully will going to school in Greely or Ft. Collins next year. He has completely lost his mind enjoying his Sr. year in High School and we all hope it returns in time for college! Am glad we were never like that, ha ha!! Cheers.”
Scott Mossman “I am now a private consultant specializing in gravity and magnetic methods for energy, mining and engineering concerns. My official shingle over the door is SMGM Consulting, which oddly enough stands for Scott Mossman Gravity & Magnetics. I have a website at www.smgmconsulting.com where you can peruse what I services I offer. I've been working in oil & gas exploration, geothermal, mining, and am currently negotiating for some consulting work with the World Bank overseas. As of January, I am now vice president of the Pacific Coast Section of the SEG (Society of Exploration Geophysicists). This takes me to Bakersfield at least once a month where I'm also able to check up on my parents in their retiring years. My office is in Santa Monica Ca. where I live 4 blocks from the beach with my new wife Jayna, we were married just a little over a year ago on 1/1/11 (I know, it'll be easy to remember my anniversary). Jayna is a psychotherapist and an artist with a new book out and we're also busy with preparation for a new showing of her art at a restaurant in Century City. My son is in his senior year in school in NYC, and my daughter is teaching at a Montessori school in Denver. We get out hiking as much as we can, there are sure a lot of places for us explore in California.”
Scot Donato is with the Bill Barrett Corporation in Denver.
Caron (Sanford) Koll “Life is good. Working for ARCADIS (formerly BBL) an environmental and infrastructure consulting firm has been a challenging, rewarding and exciting career as a geologist and project manager. As of March 9th, I will have 28 years with this firm and fortunate have had the opportunity to work in a culture of talented coworkers and clients who have all become great friends. Work is never dull and there is always much to learn and as well as teach. I'm a professional Geologist in PA and a Licensed Site Professional in MA, both achievements I attribute to the fundamentals provided through WSC. Thank you Bruce and WSC for a great education that has taken me to fulfilling career that allows for a balance between home life and career. I'm happily married with two young adult daughters living in Marcellus New York. I'm an avid telemark skier and kayaker, both activities I observed in Gunnison. Being a poor student, I never had the opportunity to try either sport until graduation from WSC. I've been hooked ever since.” You were never a poor student, Caron!
Eric Lipinski “is still living and working in Denver, and has been employed as Vice President-Geosciences with Cornerstone Natural Resources LLC since its inception in October 2008. Cornerstone is a small private equity company and is an active operator, developing both the Bakken and Three Forks reservoirs with horizontal completions in North Dakota. Cornerstone also employs Shannon Townley ‘06 as a geologist in their Denver office. Prior to Cornerstone, Eric spent several years with Patina Oil & Gas in Denver from its inception in 1996 until the company was sold to Noble Energy in 2005. During a portion of that time, Paul Rady ‘78 served on Patina’s Board. Denver has a great oil community, and WSC is well represented in the business! Eric and his wife Lana try to spend as much time as possible in their “warm climate” home in South Texas as they are both losing interest in cold weather. Eric and Lana have a daughter Robin who will be attending Trinity University in San Antonio, TX in the fall of 2012 (tried unsuccessfully to talk her into WSC’s PLRM Program), Robin is an avid soccer player and will be playing for the Trinity Tigers; she doesn’t anticipate many games being cancelled due to snow.”
Bryan Roberts is “Principal member of Excalibur Group, LLC, an environmental engineering and remediation company domiciled in McLean, VA providing technical consulting, regulatory compliance, design engineering, and third party technical reviews in the mid-Atlantic region employing 20 geologists, engineers, scientists, and chemists since 1999. With staff in PA, MD, VA, NC, and CO who all work from their home offices supporting a broad private sector customer base. I serve as the chief financial officer and principal hydrogeologist to assess environmental liabilities associated with manufacturing, petroleum, fabricators, and insurance companies while collaborating and teaming on business development initiatives. Excalibur also provides professional recruiting services for a select number of international firms placing engineers and marketing professionals. Continue to enjoy hiking, biking, skiing, golfing, upland bird hunting, volunteering for our church and community, and raising five children.” Bryan was up here last summer and sent some great pictures of him and family hiking in the Schofield Park area. Sorry I missed you Bryan!
Tom Shrake "I am now in my 15th year as President and CEO of Pacific Rim Mining Corp. For the past ten years we've been focused on low-sulfidation gold exploration for bonanza vein systems. We're up to about a million and a half ounces of very high grade gold ounces in El Salvador, Central America. We have our first project in the US in 23 years and it's within driving distance of my house. Quite a change after 23 years of international exploration in seven Latin American countries. Thirty-five years ago my wife Anne and I were married on the porch of the old Ohio Creek schoolhouse. We will have an empty nest later this year when our youngest heads to college. Our oldest, Robert, works for Schlumberger in Saudi as an engineer. Our middle daughter, Katie, was one of the few that got accepted to nursing school here at UNR; and, our youngest, Mariah, looks to be heading to CSU in Fort Collins to study physical therapy.”
Gary Skipp is still with the USGS in Denver.
Don Sweekind “continues to work at the USGS at the Federal Center in Lakewood. In the nearly 20 years he has worked at the USGS he has never had a project in Colorado! Most of Don's work involves groundwater issues in Nevada, California and Utah. Don uses GIS and 3D geologic modeling to create subsurface geologic frameworks for numerical groundwater flow models. Don lives in Golden CO with his wife, Karen Smith. Their daughter Reid started at Oregon State University last fall as a Biology major.
” Really good to see you at alumni party in Golden, Don – it’s been awhile!!
Kristen Andrew Hoeser “I’m still a senior engineer at Entech in Colorado Springs – a geotechnical company. We weathered the recession and things have been picking up nicely at work. Personally, we’ve been very busy with family the last few years. My oldest son, Cory (23) got married in July, 2010 and my husband Tony and I catered the wedding with lots of help from the family. He and his wife live here in Colorado Springs. My youngest son Aaron (21) still lives at home with us – the recession makes it awfully hard on those just getting out of school with no experience. Tony and I finally took my dream vacation where we started at the Grand Canyon (south rim), then Vermillion Cliffs, north rim of the Grand Canyon and then a loop of all of the National Parks in Utah. I was in geology heaven!! I’ve been to several of the places individually, but immerse myself in all of it at once was wonderful! I highly recommend doing that to all geology alumni who haven’t done it yet!”
Dennis Beaver “Still doing solar, primarily for residential customers – Shine on!” Dennis also has a house in Salida and we frequently see him up at Monarch ski area.
Ray (Cheeno) Cherniski “After 12 years in the beautiful mountains of northern New Mexico (skiing & biking in Angel Fire) and working at Questa Underground Moly mine, I accepted a transfer to Houston, TX in January, 2011. My current assignment is with Chevron’s Mid-Continent Business Unit as Operational Excellence and HES Planning & Performance Manager. (That’s a mouthful, Ray!)
After 29 years, this is my first assignment with Upstream E&P – but, I’m having fun. Greetings to all alums!” This looks like a major career move Ray – Congratulations, and don’t forget us when you’re old and rich.
Phil Mulholland “I am currently working as a Senior Mine geologist for Kinross at the Kettle River-Buckhorn Mine in north-central Washington. I have been working interchangeably between exploration-development and production most of my career and some of that time as an independent. It has been a blast. My wife and I raised twin daughters, now 22 years old - one soon to graduate from U of Montana in geology. Free time is spent fishing, kayaking, cycling and cursing on the golf course. Phil notes that he runs into Katye McConaghy ’98 on some of his projects.
Eric Ruud - “Eric got a new job in November 2011 and is now the Sample Prep Manager for Inspectorate America, one of the largest laboratories in the world. He is happy that he doesn’t have to travel with this job, except for the occasional road trip to Elko or Winnemucca! He still volunteers as the Snow Sports Director for the local Junior Ski Program. Skiing is still his passion but the knees aren’t cooperating as much as they used to.”
Laura Ruud “ Laura left the Mechanical Engineering Department at the University of Nevada, Reno in August 2011 and went back to managing the office for the Geological Society of Nevada in Reno. She’s been the bookkeeper for the Society for 21 years so the move is a good fit for her. It’s good to be back among working geologists! She’s having fun organizing meetings, putting a monthly newsletter together, helping organize field trips to mines and everything else that a 1,200 member organization needs her to do. Eric and Laura ski almost every weekend during the winter and are having a great time. They met some WSC friends at Crested Butte for a ski trip on February 24th. It was a beautiful day and it made us realize how much we miss it! One of the highlights of the trip was having breakfast with Bruce and Deirdre Bartleson and Dave and Carol Primus at the “W” Café. Felt like old times. Our son Alex is now 23 and working on a Masters in Computer Science & Engineering while working part-time with a Mining Engineering firm in Reno. Our daughter Erica is 22 and a senior at UNR getting her degree in Dietetics and working part-time at the Geology Student Center on campus. It’s a perfect place for her to work because she says she “gets” the Geology students and their sense of humor!” Life is good in Reno!
Sue Barrett “Has it really been 'several' years?!? Glad to know/read that you are doing well. Love that Gunnison country area. I am doing very well too! :) Enjoying Wyoming and loving what I do. .... and would love to visit with any of our fellow geology graduates when they are traveling through the Cody area! Keep me posted too on any up-coming reunions. It would be nice to see you and everyone again. With Love & Light.... Sue”
Brad Boshetto “I am just entering my 24th year with Shell. After spending the last 5 years as the Health Safety Security and Environmental (HSSE) Manager for Shell's Alaska Venture, I have taken a 4 year assignment in The Hague, The Netherlands, as the HSE/Sustainable Development Mgr for Shell's Greenland Venture. Over the next 3 years, Shell will shoot ~8000 sq km of 3D seismic, cut 11 stratigraphic control cores and drill 2 wells in Baffin Bay. In the mean time, my wife, 13 ear old daughter and I have readily shifted our fun focus from fishing, camping, skiing to Euro-touring. Our goal is 1 in-country and 1 out-of-country trip per month. So far, so good and yesterday we were rewarded with an eruption of Mt Etna while in Sicily for Easter holiday!”
John Evans “Not much new in my life these days. Still in Broomfield, married to Liz whom I met at CSU. Our son, Alex is a freshman at CSU, and his sister Lily is in fourth grade. So, we're still raising kids. I work in real estate (never thought I'd say that) and property management, mostly in connection with a warehouse operation that Liz's Dad started in the 1950's. It's a family business that allows us to stay in one place and be around family. We've been to Disney World about 6 times in as many years, and have traveled to Williamsburg, Virginia, Washington DC, and Oceanside / San Diego, CA in the past few years. One unusual thing we do is take Dahon folding bicycles on many of our trips. I have fond memories of riding the San Luis Rey trail in Oceanside, and riding as a family around Washington DC. DC is a very bike-friendly town with on-street bike lanes and it's legal to ride on the sidewalks, which suprised me. Lily and I have been to Eldora several times this year where she has taught herself to snowboard, and I try to keep up on my telemark skis. I watch with passing nostalgia the shale gas drilling boom going on in northeastern Colorado. Must be an exciting time to be a geology undergrad.”
Rod Graham “I have just returned to the minerals exploration business after a strange two and half year detour into the oil business. I went to work for a small publically listed oil and gas outfit in September 2009, and in the process of trying to staff up the exploration department I ended up with a bigWestern State component – Jim Coogan as exploration manager, Justin Tully ’02 and Andrew Payton ’08 as geologists. But the “awl bidness” never did hold much appeal for me and I finally stepped down at the end of February. I’m now working for Tien Shan Resources, looking for gold, copper, and other metals in Central Asia. I’ll continue to be based in Mongolia where I have now lived for over twelve years, but will be branching out into Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and maybe Russia and China. Nothing else has changed much, and I continue to spend a week or two in Gunnison every winter for the ice fishing at Taylor Park.”
Elloitt Lips “I am living in Salt Lake City working as an engineering geologist. I have my own consulting company (Great Basin Earth Science) and have had some really fun projects in the past few years. I do quite a few investigations for geologic hazards – landslides, rockfalls, earthquakes, and floods for either new development (mostly large municipal projects or roads) or for attorneys involved in litigation. I also do some consulting on mine permitting. Overall, life is good. I am married with one 17 year-old daughter who keeps me active and even though she doesn’t waive her arms enough to be a good geologist, she usually beats me in most other debates. I still run rivers 3-4 weeks a year, but have not skied in two years due to knee problems. We get out for other camping/hiking trips and I still get together with my 5 fellow geology graduates of 1983 for our annual Destinations Unknown trip. I miss Gunnison and all the rest of the folks, but it’s good to keep in touch with Bruce.”
Jeff Littfin, Whitefish, MT: “Worked in Denver for Daniel Geophysical ('84-'87) making maps, modeling, and software development primarily for the oil and gas industry. Worked with Geographics Information Inc.(87-91) developing a digital cartographic database from USGS 7.5min topos and output the data a variety of formats for computer mapping software as well as created custom maps and generated Lat. Lon's for well locations from footage calls for API. Worked for MineSoft LLC. ('91-'92) as a International and National Sales Manager selling a relational database software package used primarily for GIS and mining applications. Moved to Montana in ('92) to pursue a lifestyle rather than a career. Worked for several companies as a computer technician/consultant selling and supporting hardware and software to schools and a wide variety of businesses. Started Littfin Consulting Inc. ('03-Present) as a computer consultant providing networking and general trouble shooting for computer systems and applications. I'm still active with skiing, hiking, biking, archery hunting, fishing, kayaking, sailing, waterskiing, snowmobiling and dirt biking. Been worn hard and put away wet plenty of times with outdoor activities. 7 surgeries, 6 broken bones and I'm still kicking...just not as hard. Lots of hobbies that keep me out of the bars & trouble such as sculptures, wood working, and playing guitar with a band on a regular basis.”
Dale Marcum “I’m still a principal with Cotton, Shires and Associates, Inc…a small engineering geologic consulting firm in Los Gatos, CA. Almost 25 years now…time flies. Office work has increased over the years, but I still get to get out and map rocks fairly often. Most of our projects are in the Sierra, but Elliot just got us a rock slope stability project in Utah, so that has been fun working with him. Married with two boys (11 and 15) in Los Gatos, and they keep us busy. I got semi-serious with the guitar a few years back, and have been playing in a local band…but don’t plan to quit the day job. Rock on….”
Chuck Place Here’s a really interesting letter from Chuck: “I still have my own company and work all over the US on Green Energy projects where we take large industrial wastewater plants and clean the water to make biogas. On a current project in GA, we’re cleaning the biogas to “pipeline quality” gas which will replace all the natural gas purchased by the facility. They’ll be the 1st slaughter or food processing facility in the US to operate completely on gas generated from their waste. I guess it’s my age, but I find I want to vacation more now and work less. My wife and I try to vacation at some warm beach at least 3 or 4 times a year during the cold months, the rest of the year we’re on the local lakes and work on our tans. I think that is more fun than work anytime. We have a couple of farms in west Texas. The drought this year was really tough and we received only 1.5 inches of rain all year. Our crops were a total loss this year, as were most non-irrigated crops in Texas. The only bright spot is the insurance companies had to pay record amounts to the farmers this year because commodity prices were so high last year. I still work on geology with my oil field prospects. I plan to drill another well in KS in early 2012. My farms are near Haskell, TX. That is about an hour north of Abilene. There are a few oil fields in that area. The Midland area is amazing. The oil companies there are still hitting 600 to 800 bbl / day wells. It’s incredible how much oil comes from there. I live over the Barnett Shale play in Dallas/Ft Worth. There are about 6,000 wells here now. Most wells in the cities are directional wells, so one well pad with 8 wells. Those wells are averaging 1.5 MCF of natural gas / day. There are still 10,000’s of locations left to drill with 100% possibility of making a gas well at each location. I still like drilling wells, it makes life interesting, especially if you find the location, pay to drill it and bare all the risk for the results. I usually only drill in OK or KS, where lease and drilling costs are reasonable. Gas prices are very low now and that affects my business. Since we make biogas (Methane, CO2, H2S) from waste, it’s pretty tough to make a project pay back in two years. That is what all the major industrial companies require. If it can’t recoup their investment and set them up to make them millions of $ in two years, they won’t do the project. The ads you see on TV for Green Energy or caring about the environment are very frustrating to me. ALL major companies don’t care a thing about the environment unless it makes $ for the company now, not years from now. I’ve worked for most of the major industries in the US and they’re all the same. Regulations, fines & government grants are the only thing that makes them act. The uncertainty with the direction of Regulations from the Obama administration has most companies sitting on their hands as well. It’s too bad the US can’t just decide to go with Green Energy to replace some petroleum imports and quit arguing about global warming. That argument will continue for decades and drag down progress with Renewable Energy. It’s amazing how many Cities and large industrial facilities I go to that could generate free energy for their tax payers or stockholders. It’s usually too much work to get anything to happen on a City project, so I don’t even try those. It’s a shame that all that free energy goes to waste (or in the atmosphere) every day in the US and most people don’t even know about it.”
Jeff Stewart “I'm coming up on 20 years with the USGS doing water-quality analysis. Fracking studies should keep me going for the next 10 years. Thanks guys! I keep busy raising two sons with my wife of 14 years, Mary. When that isn't enough, I coach youth basketball and try to keep skiing, though the "tele" skis just collect dust now.”
Bob Twiddy “I have been living in the Denver metro area since 1988 and continue to fight the weekend ski traffic in the winters. I spent the early part of my career in the Environmental field before jettisoning that for a sales career for the Timken Company. I sell roller bearings, predominantly to heavy industry such as coal mines, power plants, wind turbines and steel mills. It does warrant some travel to some garden spots such as Gillette, WY and Billings, MT. Fortunately I run across a few ski hills, trout streams and mountain biking trails along the way. This keeps me somewhat sane. My significant other of 13 years, Beth, and I have blended together a family. Her daughter Eva is now a sophomore at CSU in the engineering program. My daughter Hannah is a sophomore in high school. We are all at the age where we seem to be going in all directions at different times….we see each other occasionally. We come to our senses at times and coordinate a river trip, or escape to a little getaway near Buena Vista (with bikes, boats or skis in tow), and visit our new favorite spot of Costa Rica. I still participate in a Destinations Unknown group with Jeff Littfin, Dale Marcum, Elliott Lips, Kent Wheeler and Brad Boschetto (Class of 83). Each year one of us plans a trip to a destination that is a surprise to the others…until just before take-off. Sometimes the families are involved, sometimes it’s just the guys (these tend to be test-o-thons that leave us whimpering sometimes, but you can always tell how much fun we’ve had by how hurt and dirty we get!). Either way, it keeps us in touch with each other in a world where it’s increasingly difficult to make time for our friends. I also still attend the Alumni Ski Weekend most every year, just so I can get my hands on a delicious BartleBurger…Thanks Bruce”
Kent Wheeler “I moved to Salt Lake City in 1987 for the skiing and have been there ever sense. I am running an Environmental Consulting firm (IHI Environmental) of about 70 people with offices in Utah, Colorado, Arizona, California, Washington, and Dallas. It seems like I hardly do any geology anymore, as the management activities have provided a new challenge in my life, not better but different. I’m married (since 1991) with two daughters (8 and 15). Boating, skiing, and climbing still dominate my life with a little fly fishing and surfing tied in. I still do a trip every year with 5 other geology alums (Elliott Lips ‘83, Jeff Littfin ‘83, Brad Boschetto ‘83, Bob Twiddy ‘83, and Dale Marcum ‘83). Most trips now include the everyone’s family (18 people), the last five have been a Desolation/Greys canyon raft trip, kayak trip in the Gunnison Gorge, a three week trip to Alaska (Denali to Wrangle St Elias), Lake Powell, and a tour of California’s beaches (San Cruz to Lake Tahoe). Life is still really good!!”
Joe Winston “I became a licensed attorney in Colorado in 1991, graduated from DU Law School. Just started my 21st year in practice in Colorado Springs. I have three children, Haydn, Susan and Claire.”
Mark Winters “Thanks for following up and keeping me in the loop. All is well with me. Not much is new (and that’s OK). Heli-skiing is now an annual affair (Revelstoke most recently, bottomless powder every run!), and I skied at Mt. Bachelor on the 3rd of July this year! Trust you are doing well. Thanks and regards, Nanook”
Andrea (Heller) Albershardt “Greetings friends, isn't life grand! The winter of 2011 I traveled from Gunnison County to explore the mountains of western North Carolina. There is such a great diversity of plants and birds here in this Appalachian Blue Ridge Mountain area. Gunnison does not get the visits from the many migrating birds that wing through this geography. Some early mornings, I take my coffee into the garden for a few minutes to observe the songs and colors of visiting birds. Love came a knocking at my door and I am now a happy and excited married woman. Andy Albershardt was a student at Western in the 70's when I arrived at Western. A perfect August blue sky day in Crested Butte framed our wedding. Andy had been living in North Carolina and so I have landed here in Black Mountain just east of Asheville. This area is proud of its sustainable gardens, art, food and music. I do miss skiing although North Carolina is a mountain and road bike paradise. There are steep roads everywhere. I hear that North Carolina has 97,000 miles of paved roads. My Australian shepherd Rina is my companion on walks, hikes and bike. I continue to love writing, teaching, sewing, jewelry making and lifelong learning. Come and visit and best yet, keep in touch! Love, Andrea L. Heller Albershardt” (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Cindy (Klinker) Jenkins “Living in Kazakhstan (again) with husband Steve who is still with Chevron. We have a home in Gunnison and spend summers there, which is great! I see Robert and Bruce with some frequency and Tom sometimes as well. The kids are in boarding school, one graduating from Colorado Rocky Mountain School in Carbondale in June 2012 and the other attending school in New Hampshire. Life is good.”
John Lamborn “We are living in Sterling, AK about 1 mile from the Kenai River. The fishing is pretty good in the summer. Moose hunting can be in the back yard. There was a grizzly bear doing laps around the house this fall but didn't cause any problems. It did get our attention though. I have visited with Dan Vogel ‘85 a few times in the last year and he is doing well. I haven't spoken with him since hunting season; I should call him and see how he did. I got a moose this year but not out the back door.”
Kathy Northcut – “I ended up getting a Masters at Colorado State in TESL in 1995 and a doctorate at Texas Tech in Technical Communication & Rhetoric in 2004. That has served me well and I’m now tenured at Missouri S&T (formerly Univ. of Missouri at Rolla) and doing some interesting things. I get back to Gunnison occasionally but missed you at the Writing at the Rockies conference in 2009 or 10. I actually do use my Geology background in a sort of creative way – I studied the controversy surrounding Protoavis texensis (controversial Triassic bird-like fossil) and especially the visual representations of it. I finally have a publication about it coming out this year. Suffice to say it was very fun to follow illustrators around while they painted dinosaurs. If I ever have a chance to be in on a dig, I would gladly pay for it.” Kathy, you ought to contact Kelli Trujillo at the Univ. of Wyoming geology museum!
John Axelson “I’m still working for the Colorado Oil & Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) as an environmental protection specialist. It has been just over five years and with the high level of oil & gas activity in Weld County my job is extremely busy. I still work from my house as a field office in Brighton which allows me to have quick response time to oil & gas locations in NE Colorado. Besides work, I still enjoy taking the family on camping trips and fly fishing. My kids Emily (9) and Sydnie (13) are growing up way too fast. Both are doing great in school and Emily has shown a lot of interest in geology. We often go rock hounding on camping trips and Emily uses my field guide to rocks & minerals (now very tattered) that I bought as a freshman at WSC bookstore in 1983. Where does the time go ?”
Doug Holzman “Yup, still in Hood River. Probably till I die. Still working for Frontier Airlines (for the moment). Hoping they stay in business till I retire. Still windsurfing, mountain biking, kayaking, and just took up my new sport - kiteboarding. Kids are 13 and 15 (oldest just started High School). Also still married to my 1st wife (unlike many other pilots). Life is generally very good.”
Scott Effner is being a bit brief and modest when he writes “back living in Gunny.
” Scott and his wife Susan Wyman are running the most upcoming and thriving business in Gunnison. It’s located in an old, well kept mansion on Main Street just a block from our house and have a state of the art geochem lab for testing water/rock interactions in their basement. Their company, Whetstone Associates, specializes in groundwater, geochemistry and hydrologic engineering and has clients all over the Western US, Latin America and even Mongolia, mostly in mining. They now have 14 employees and have hired four WSC graduates and several interns who have passed through. See their website at http://www.whetstone-associates.com/
Mark Owen “I am the Sr. Archaeologist for Stell Environmental Enterprises. Stellcontracts archaeological and Section 106 compliance work at Fort Carson in Colorado. Beyond the purely archaeological realm, I am involved with range and building planning, NEPA, wildland fire treatment efforts, and site protection and preservation projects. Currently reside in Fountain, Colorado with my librarian/historic archaeologist/historian/genealogist wife Pam. Return to fish the Gunnison area several times each year (mostly in Cochetopa Park and Taylor River drainage basin). Post B.A. at Western State I completed an M.A. at New Mexico State University. I count prehistoric warfare, the Paleoindian occupation of southeastern Colorado, and lithic artifact analysis as my primary research interests.” Good seeing you last fall, Mark!
Carol (Gallatin) Rieger “At this time I am living happily as a wife and mother of two wonderful little girls. Starting late in life on a family has been such a welcome joy, that I cannot imagine life not being "Mama". Samantha is now 5 and will start Kindergarten in the fall at a local charter school focusing on foreign language immersion. Sam will be part of the Spanish program. So far I am happy with what I see as her education path through 3rd grade, especially with the reading and math curricula. This 5-year-old likes Smurfs, dinosaurs, rocks, dancing, singing, riding her scooter, and hiking. Amelia is now 16-months old (yes, I was almost 46 when she was born). Ever the analytical child, she has easily figured out how to manage the stairs before crawling on her hands and knees, loves books, takes the caps off jars and bottles, and can operate a remote better than me. This child scoots around like a chimp, would rather be outside any day, and is extremely affectionate. We are concerned that she has an affinity towards older men with facial hair (like her father). My husband Terry works out of the house, takes care of the girls, and enjoys hiking, camping, long-distance running, and target shooting. We will celebrate 6 years of marriage this month and will return to Dinosaur National Monument this summer (with the girls), where he fatefully proposed to me in July 2005 (overlooking the Uinta Uplift). As for me...I am still working for the same company (23-1/2 years) and have a mix of technical and project/program management responsibilities. We will see if I hit the 24-year mark. I'd love to say I have been doing volunteer work in Morrison, but time is precious between family and work, so something had to give for a while. I still manage to get out and enjoy geology and paleontology with my paleo-compadres and my trusty hammer, brushes, and [dental] picks. Samantha may join us this summer on a local excursion. To finish, we hope to travel this year and are looking to visit Terry's family in the Chicago area, camp out in Dinosaur NM, and [maybe] take a road trip to Gunnison in early fall. It has been almost 25 years since I graduated, and I'd like to see the school/town after reading so much about the changes over the years. Wow!!!!!!!!!! Time flies...”
Annie (Clements) Eckman “We are still in Colorado Springs, with life going by at what feels like 100 mph. Our girls, Laurel and Fiona, are now 12 and 8 years old; John and I will soon celebrate our 22nd year of marriage. It's amazing that he has put up with me for so long, honestly. I am splitting my time professionally between a long term contract with the Colorado Oil & Gas Conservation Commission (in Environmental Protection, with John Axelson '88) and consulting on my own, mainly due diligence for oil and gas related property transactions. John (also WSC, Biology '89) still cuts up dead people and assorted body parts at Penrose St. Francis Hospital. We camp or ski as many weekends as possible, and are thankful every day to be back in Colorado. Maybe not as thankful as Scott Effner’88 who is actually making a living, as a geologist, in Gunnison. But waking up to an amazing view of Pikes Peak each morning isn't so bad. I have been enjoying my position on the WSC Alumni Board of Directors for the past couple of years (thanks to Bruce for suggesting me). Western still feels like home, and I love getting back at least a few times every year. If you haven't been on campus for a while, you have to check out the totally revamped, amazing Taylor Hall, not to mention the Union and the wonderful addition to Hurst. There are exciting changes on the horizon, as Western celebrates its 100th year and unveils a name change from College to University. It was a pleasure to connect with geology alums at the WSC-School of Mines tailgate in the fall, and the alumni ski weekend BBQ. When I met the legendary Bob Twiddy’83 I nearly fainted. And that Dennis Beaver ‘82 turns up everywhere! During the fall gathering, I was inspired to put together an ongoing Denver area Geology Alumni happy hour. My enthusiasm may have been stoked by the cocktails I was enjoying that lovely fall day in Connie Knight's ’70 backyard, but it was my birthday, and I was fresh from a flight into DIA from Vegas. Bob Dickerson's ‘77 suggested location (the Mellow Mushroom on the 16th Street Mall) worked out well in November. Great pizza, a more than decent beer selection, and free validated parking (Tabor Center underground garage). If you would like to join us for the next happy hour and don't already get the email invites, please let me know: email@example.com Hope to see you there!”
Christine Peak is “still residing in Montrose, Colorado and consider it a privilege to live in the beautiful west. Still married to Jim Peak, it will be 40 years this year and yes, we plan to celebrate. Still travel to Australia and other overseas locations as often as possible. Mexico, Honduras and China are amongst the latest. Mushrooming in the Fall and the production of a huge vegetable garden in the spring...for more than ourselves each year. I am now on the Board of the Montrose County Housing Authority and have become more involved in politics. Remember that I am a citizen of the USA now and have that "freedom of speech". I am healthy, happy and enjoying life. Son Jefferson is a professional photographer, claiming Fashion Photographer of the Year for Denver this year and I market his product through modelmayhem.com/180431. I do this by critiquing pictures. Daughter Kara is still with NABORS International Drilling Co. in the financial department located in Houston. Interestingly, she is engaged to a man who puts the safety programs into the oil and gas rigs and storage facilities...he has contracts with 15,000 companies ((Exxon Mobile, BP (post accident), Shell)) and rapidly growing. Amazing stuff. I do not pretend to understand all the details of his work.”
Norm Yoast “Ihave been teaching at Craig Middle School now for 19 years. 22 years total. I recently earned my masters from Grand Canyon University in Phoenix in technology and curriculum development. I currently teach 8th grade science, river watch, 6-8th grade gifted and talented and some science exploratory classes. I also am the girl’s basketball coach at Moffat County High School as well as football and track at CMS. My wife Deb still teaches at CMS also. We have two kids, Colten is a 10th grader at MCHS and Lindsey is a Sophomore attending Western State College, majoring in geology (yes) and math(gets that from mom). We still spend our summers exploring geology NW Colorado.”
Julie Coleman “I'm still working as the San Juan National Forest Archaeologist in Durango, Colorado. Until the "divorce" of the BLM and FS and the end of Service First on October 1, 2011, I was the Archaeologist for the San Juan Public Lands, in charge of all the BLM and FS lands in SW Colorado. Life is great in the San Juans- still enjoying great powder days and backcountry excursions in huts! Off to Guatemala and Honduras this year to escape mud season!” Julie was recently honored as the 2012 recipient for the Archeology and Historic Preservation Award by the Center of Southwest Studies in Durango.
Greg Hill “I am currently Vice President, Exploration for Kinetic Gold Corp., a company that I co-founded in 2011. We are a private junior exploration company working in the Great Basin and employ a prospect generator business model. For the past five years, I have lived in Tahoe City, California with my wife Laura and ten year old daughter Alaina. We spend much of our free time in the great outdoors, skiing, hiking, running, and playing.”
Elizabeth (Budzien) Toivonen “Not much is happening in Canberra. I still work for AECOM in contaminated sites auditing. All of my projects are still in NSW (generally Sydney), so I work from home around 3 to 4 days per week and spend the other day or two a week in either our Canberra or Sydney office. In the last year I completed two of my major (and favourite) projects, both of which I project managed and conducted all of the technical reviews and reporting for more than 6 years, so my feelings are mixed – sense of accomplishment with a bit of “now what?”. The first project involved auditing one of the largest dioxin remediation programs in the Southern Hemisphere. The site is currently being redeveloped as high rise residential apartment buildings with commercial shops on the ground floor. The other project was auditing the assessment and remediation of a Defence facility which will be redeveloped for mixed residential, commercial and open space (including national park/nature reserve areas) land uses.I have stepped aside from the team leader role in the Canberra office to focus on a more technical role across NSW. This also allowed one of the younger guys, who we were grooming for the Canberra team leader role, the opportunity to step up and take on greater responsibility within the team and it was a way for me to remove myself from the chauvinistic attitude and bullying rampant in our Canberra office (quite sad in this day and age and something that I haven’t experienced in the other AECOM offices in NSW – or anywhere else I have worked for that matter).Trevor and I have pretty much decided to move to the US, providing Trevor’s visa comes through ok, most likely to Oklahoma to be closer to my parents. I’ve been in Australia a long time (going on 17 years) and they are getting older, so we’d like to spend some quality time with them while we still can. A week from Wednesday (21 March) we are off to Oklahoma for almost three weeks to celebrate my Dad’s birthday and we will start looking at houses, etc. The Aussie dollar is high, so the timing is definitely good, and the job situation in Oklahoma is looking pretty promising, although I might take the opportunity to do more study.”
Dave Lazorchak “Here’s brief rundown on the last 18 – no make that 19 –years since graduating (can it really be that long ago?). I worked as an archaeologist in the private sector most of the time up until 2000. I held many non-degree related jobs during the off season to pay the bills (bouncer, bartender, carpenter, fence builder, landscaping just to name a few). I then started with the Bureau of Land Management in Montrose as a seasonally employed archaeological technician; after a while Julie Coleman stole me from Montrose and I started working in Gunnison. After a few years I was hired on as the field office archaeologist and geologist. About three years ago they split my job and I decided to become the geologist (much to the chagrin of management). As is usual, additional duties were handed to me, so now I am the geologist, the abandoned mine specialist and the collateral HAZMAT guy. I never had the time or the money to continue on to a master’s degree or a PhD, but it’s never too late…. Currently I’m working towards becoming a Certified Mineral Examiner for the BLM- it’s much tougher than Bruce or Tom’s classes ever were! And as always trying to help balance the multiple uses of our public lands in a safe and responsible manner. Somewhere in between I found time to get hitched to a wonderful woman named Jennie, who’s always there no matter how silly I am. We still call Gunnison our base of operations, but things change all the time.”
Suzanne (Schauer) Carmody is married to Shaun, living in Colorado Springs with our two daughters Kiri (12) and Cambria (7). I am still teaching Earth Science and Geology at Widefield High School and loving it!!!
Eric Dillenbeck – “I think the last time we talked I was in Gunnison, looking to make a move back to Colorado from Houston. Well it wasn't long before I came across an opportunity that was too good to pass up........ in Europe! I now work for Maersk Oil in Denmark. It was time for a change and I have never seen much of Europe so I took it. I have been here a year now and have been traveling non-stop, Spain, Italy, Sweden, Netherlands, England........Copenhagen is a great little city, the weather is pretty poor, but otherwise a great place to live, more bicycles than cars! I'm working West Africa Exploration, specifically Angola. I was in Luanda recently and found it to be a country of extreme contrasts, modern high rise offices with little more than dirt tracks surrounding them. The oil money is pouring in, and there's a sense of optimism, but the extreme poverty is a bit overwhelming.”
Rob Linnenberger “I am entering into my tenth year of teaching in BVSD this year. I have spent nine of those years at Monarch High School in Louisville, CO which thankfully is a short ten minute bike ride from my house. Traffic is a little more congested here than in Gunnison- I really do miss that little town. I teach Physical Science, which could also be called Intro to Chemistry and Physics, to ninth graders and Earth/ Space science to 11th and 12th graders. (Earth/ Space is a lab based elective that students can opt to take if they want a fourth year of science. I have taught as many as three sections of Earth/Space science and as few as one, but this year I am at the mean of two. The class is broken into one semester of Astronomy and one semester of Geology where I introduce the basics of Physical and Historical Geology to students. We usually take one field trip to Fiske Planetarium on the CU campus in the Fall and a culminating Geology field trip in the spring to either Lee Hill Rd. or down to Red Rocks Park and the I-70 road cut. Afterwards, students produce a cross section of Boulder Geology and do a basic write-up containing information about each formation. I am still trying to figure out how to improve the importance and use of Earth Science at the high school level. Lately, I have come to the conclusion that I need to teach either an Advanced Placement Environmental Science or an Advanced Placement Geology. The implementation of technology in the classroom is an educational interest of mine and something that I may pursue a Master’s. Last year I was fortunate to be included in a classroom 3D pilot program through BVSD and Texas Instruments which allowed us to provide students with three dimensional animations of various content. I believe that we were one of eight high schools in the country to have access to the technology. Second semester this year Monarch High School will be piloting a one student/ one computer program where each freshman will bring a laptop to school and we will do some work together using "the cloud." The details are still being hashed out. In 2009, I started the Monarch Mountain Bike Club and 2011 will be our second season of cross country mountain bike competition in the Colorado Cycling League. This year I doubled the club's size from 8 to 16 riders. On the league website (www.coloradomtb.org) we have a team photo in the roll over images. We will compete against the Crested Butte and Gunnison teams at the first race just outside Nathop on September 18th. Anna, my wife of nine years and I just welcomed our second son, Owen Robert, on March 6th. Our first son, Ethan Charles, turned eight in August. Anna completed a Master's of Electrical Engineering at CU last year and was accepted into the PHD program this spring. She works as a computer engineer at a small optics company in Lafayette. I have continued to pursue the outdoor sports that distracted me so much at Western State but in a more prioritized fashion. They continue to give me great joy and are something that I now share with my oldest son. Without them I would be in below average physical condition because I cannot bring myself to exercise at a health club. Every year I become more opinionated and more interested in politics and pet causes.
Kirsten (Forkner) Sanders “I continue working at Six Points Evaluation and Training managing the Residential Services Program. Six Points is in the midst of a Capital Campaign drive to raise funds for a new building, so it's an exciting time to be a part of the organization. Not exactly using my Geology degree in my work life, but I certainly enjoy sharing what I've learned while hiking, camping, and backpacking around the area in my free time. Skiing at Monarch and cross country skiing with my boyfriend and dogs occupied my weekends this winter. My old house, big yard, and vegetable garden keep me busy the rest of the time. I'm looking forward to spending a week in the Dominican Republic in a few weeks.”
Kelli Trujillo “Well, I guess you could say that I'm working as a mitigation paleontologist out of Laramie and also am the manager of the UW Geological Museum, and that the museum is just starting a major upgrade of the building and exhibits this summer”
Brian Cellura “ Since it has been a while I will try to bring you up to date on what I have been doing, currently I am working with Miranda Gold, where I head up the Generative programs both here in Nevada and in Colombia SA. Back in 2002 I was working on finishing up my Master Thesis, at the University of Nevada of Reno, I became a specialist in stratigraphy, in particular biostratigraphy with a focus on the Roberts Mountains Thrust. As a specialist in biostratigraphy I formed my own consulting company Cellurian Sciences (get it) for a few years where I would help company’s break out the stratigraphic units in both the upper and lower plates of the allochthon, this work helped to elucidate and expand the known favorable gold horizons here in Nevada from just the Silurian Roberts Mountain Formation all the way to the upper Devonian Weban Formation dramatically increasing the number of potential targets for companies to explore for. In around 2004 the company Miranda Gold was put together. When I joined it was just the President, our VP of Exploration and I. The company had grown dramatically, and we now have offices here in Nevada, Colombia, and have projects in Nevada, Colombia and Alaska. I head up the generative programs for Nevada, and am responsible for making sure the company and field operation are running smoothly. As it happened with me I often like to go back to the pool of young students and bring new blood into the industry so for many years I have brought students from Western State out to work with Miranda for the field season to help them gain experience and get an idea of what it is like to work in the field of exploration. My time these days is split between my work here in Nevada and our start up program in Colombia SA. With Beth and our daughter Casey we are no living in the Spring Creek Nevada. While finishing up my Master’s Degree in Reno I spent a few years running the Great Basin Brewery in Sparks, the love of beer and brewing never dies especially geologist, so we have finished a new brew shed here at the house and are currently up and running brewing beer again.”
Eric Jordan “Life and work are hectic at the moment- challenging, fun at times, but intense. It was great to run into you last July in Gunny. Where was it- the Firebrand? We had a great summer vacation in Colorado- spent the week up at Irwin hiking around and observing all the activity associated with CS Irwin group. I am still with the same company (Hatch Mott MacDonald), and living and working in the New York Metro area. My wife and I have a new baby girl- Amelia. She is now two and growing up fast as they say. We bought a house in Nyack, near the Tappan Zee Bridge- we're doing well and really enjoying our time at home raising Amelia. I’m now involved with three major tunnel projects in New York, from Manhattan to the Catskills! Although, I work in a densely populated, urban environment, I draw upon and teach the 'geotechs' the fundamentals of field mapping every day. The City is ruled by engineers, but some of us geo's are making inroads. I cannot tell how grateful I am to have gone through the rigors of the program and especially field camp with you, Tom and Allen. It has paid off in spades. I'd like to say Hello to all my classmates, 1994-1996, and Tim Leech (biology guy that hung out downstairs with the cool department) - what’s up?”
Kurt Feltus Kurt operates Double Top Frame & Finish Custom Homes in Crested Butte. He “still enjoys the mountains in winter and Blue Mesa in summer”
Becky Biglow “The latest is that I'm working with the US Agency for International Development. My current project is leading trainings in Lebanon (Beirut area) on the topic of wildfire/forest fire-related erosion control and other post-fire response strategies. Previously, I was working with the Inyo National Forest in Bishop, CA as a hydrologist. Prior to that I worked in the field of architecture and green building after attaining a Master of Architecture degree from the University of Oregon. Fortunately, geology-related watershed management work has been a handy, healthy and fun economic refuge from the collapse of the construction industry. Thank goodness for geology! I'm still enjoying skiing, biking, hiking, and traveling too. I'd love to hear from people: firstname.lastname@example.org ”
Erik Bjornstad I have been living in Gunnison since graduating from WSC in 1997. My wife Jennifer and I have 2 kids, Emma, 8 and Evan, 3. I have been working at SGM here in town as a surveyor for the last 6 years, running around in the hills and making maps. My part time job has become the unofficial IT guy for my neighbor Bruce Bartleson, who in exchange gives impromptu lectures to my kids about Geology. All in all, life is good
Casey Dukeman “I’m finishing my 7th academic year teaching at WSC (in Anthro. and Geology).Little Jacob is graduating from high school next year, I was elected Vice President of the Rocky Mtn. Anthropological Assoc. and am continuing research in Rocky Mountain archeology.”
Casey is now running the Sheidan WY offices of SWCA dong archaeological and environmental consulting.
Sean Hlousek “I am still working at Cirque Resources in Denver. I work for Peter Dea ‘76 so you know it's going to be an outstanding company with a bright future with leadership like that! I'm in charge of maintaining our GIS data including several hundred thousand acres of leases. I also provide the Geology group with mapping and data support. It's a fantastic job and I work with a very sharp team of individuals and have projects all over the Rocky Mountain West so there is a lot of variety in my work. I live in South Denver with my 15 year old dog and commute downtown year-round on my bicycle. In the winter time on the weekends I spend my time at Loveland Ski area trying to understand the truths of standing on a board sliding on the snow. In the summertime I'm in the mountains with a pack getting taunted by fish. In the Spring and Fall I visit Southern Utah and review geomorphology and stratigraphy. I still make it to Gunnison every summer, except now I float down the river through town and camp nearby. Give us a call when you’re floating past Sean!!
Lynn Padgett “2012 has been nuttier than ever. I am in the last year of my first 4-year term as Ouray County Commissioner. I am a candidate for re-election (www.LynnPadgettForOurayCounty.org) and am actively fundraising for another tough race. I was honored to receive the Colorado Counties, Inc. Commissioner of the Year award at their winter conference in November (following in Hap Channel’s footsteps) and Best Local Elected Official by the Ouray County Plaindealer for 2012.
Over the winter, I worked with a broad range of folks to get consensus on support for a resolution I proposed at the National Association of Counties Legislative conference in March. That work resulted in a unanimous approval by the Public Lands and Energy, Environment and Land Use steering committees to support NACo adopting a policy (at the bottom). This is the first time NACo has taken a position on Good Samaritan/water quality and it was exciting to see support from AZ, CA, OR, WA, UT, CO, NM, and many others. I am hoping that the resolution brings more understanding and momentum to the issue -- allowing bona-fide Good Samaritans to be able to measurably improve water quality through passive and/or active mitigation at abandoned mines where they have no connection or financial responsibility for past mining activities without fear of lawsuits under the Clean Water Act. Improved water quality will enhance agricultural, recreational, ecological, municipal and industrial/mining opportunities and will provide new jobs. A few other issues that I’m working on that Western alum might appreciate – trying to get middle mile infrastructure (fiber optic) to achieve much needed broadband speed, bandwidth, and redundancy in the US 550 Uncompaghre/San Juan Mountains corridor; a new mountain biking trail system on BLM lands outside of Ridgway that will connect to the existing and expanding trails in Ridgway and the Ridgway State Park; and a conversation with Colorado Counties/ County Commissioners, state/federal regulatory agencies and hardrock mining companies to help us all understand who regulates what (at the fed/state/local levels), identify regulatory gaps and overlaps, and find opportunities to streamline regulations for better outcomes. Kids are awesome – ages 8, 10 and 12 now. We just made our annual pilgrimage to Legoland which was colder and cloudier than Colorado over spring break and we’ll be starting the summer off with Bluegrass Kids Camp at the Pagosa Folk N Bluegrass Festival the first week of June. Jeff has his DRMS (Division of Mining Reclamation and Safety) “Dream Job” of developing and closing abandoned mines across western Colorado. He is currently working on some old copper mines near the Utah border. We have been neglecting our fly-fishing the last several years and are hoping to fix that this summer in Gunnison country.” Any time Lynn!!!
Stephanie (Foggia) Lovell “I’m nearing my 2 year anniversary as a state regulator for the Alaska Department of Natural Resources in the Mining Section. I contribute (as a member of the large mine program) in the permitting and compliance of the hard rock mines throughout the state.”
- But hold everything- we have a late breaking news flash “My family and I are moving back to Salida! I just accepted a job as a Sr. Geologist with Climax Molybdenum.”
Chantal Simonpietri “As far as what I have been up to ... the quick skinny is ... went to law school at Vermont Law School for enviro law/water law, graduated in 2003. Clerked for the VT Water Resources Board during and after school, then lobbied for the Vermont Natural Resources Council for a year, then took a job in sustainability and renewable energy education admin in Mendocino County, CA with the Real Goods Solar Living Center in Hopland. Worked there for 1.5 years then burned out and went to Argentina for a while, came back and was hired to do Operations and Production at the Harmony Festival in Santa Rosa, CA (that’s a 25,000 person music and conscious living festival), then was hired by Michael Franti and Spearhead (a band) to manage their merchandise for the Power to the Peaceful Festival in San Francisco and then went on their US and Canada "Yell Fire!" tour in 2006. Finished that and went back to Ukiah, got in a relationship, pregnant, gave birth and have been mama for the most part since then, my son Osho was born on Christmas Day in 2007, will be 4 this year and is wonderful. Recently I have been practicing law in the family law world, dependency, child custody, drug rehab, FAR from water law and salmon and riparian habitats! And, just this month started my own production company, and am now producing events in my area, bringing music, art, dance to Ukiah, as well as helping produce others events and musci festivals. Life keeps on rolling!”
Tessa (Walker) Watson - “Hi all! We moved to the UK for my husband’s job in late April 2011. We are enjoying getting out and about. Have seen quite a few sights, but there is so much more to see. We have a trip planned for the Jurassic Coast in early June. We are busy with life here. Both children are in British primary school. I am still running the house and training for races. We are enjoying England and have been to Paris. Have really liked going new places an living the culture. It's so much better than going tourist style. We like getting an apartment or cottage and shopping for meals at local grocers; don’t get me wrong, we like the restaurants and touristy thing too, but it's interesting living in the culture. It is surprising how foreign the UK can be. Good learnig experience.”
Rebecca Bailey “I am doing great! I am still living in Girdwood and working as a geologist at BP in Anchorage. I'm enjoying my job as reservoir management geologist for two fields on the North Slope. I do a lot of geocellular reservoir modelling as well as general integration, mapping and description. Personally, I am doing well. I live at the base of Alyeska Resort. We have had a very snowy winter here and the skiing has been great.”
Brian Coven “Kimmy, Ruby and I are doing well. We made it back to Colorado about 15 months ago after two years in central Arkansas & Houston (some of the stereotypes about Arkansas are true). I scored a job at Anschutz Exploration after Justin Tully’02 left to go to Mongolia. I have his contact info if you need it. Since I’ve been here, I’ve worked in the Appalachian, Williston, DJ, Hardeman, and southern Alberta basins. I love this job! Exploration is a great way to continue learning the science of geology. Ruby started kindergarten this year and she loves riding the bus to school. She had her first season pass last year and learned to ski by herself. Kimmy is still a full time mom and she will be working as a substitute teacher this year as well. We have two dogs named Fez & Louie. Fez is a pure bred Baja Especial (mexican mutt) & Louie is a cock-a-poo.
Adam Perney “I am married and have a daughter who will be 3 in March 2012. I am out of the Marines after seven years of combined active duty and reserve service. I graduated from Colorado School of Mines in 2009 with a Master’s of Science in Mining and Earth Systems Engineering. After graduation I worked for Freeport McMoran at Henderson Mine as a mining and geotechnical engineer. My wife Bai took a job in Japan in 2011 so I resigned my job and moved to Japan and now I am a stay at home dad slowly learning some Japanese. That about covers it really. I did do a long road trip during the summer of 2011. I drove from the UK to Ulaanbataar Mongolia in an event called The Mongol Rally. It is not a race but a charity driving event for cars that have no business driving that far. I drove a Daihatsu Hijet van. My years of mountain and jeep road driving at Western and living in Colorado came in handy. Also the geology field trips in the school vans on roads that they should probably not be on but were anyway helped. I will send some pictures of the trip.”
Jason Staetter “Life is good! I'm living in my hometown, St. Louis, MO. I have a four year old son named George. I work for URS Corporation, in the Environmental Group, as an Environmental Scientist/Geologist. We work in environmental remediation performing subsurface investigations through mainly soil borings and groundwater sampling...pretty exciting...”
Duncan Drummond “No crazy journeys or adventures as of late (only if you don't consider reading Dr. Fillmore's new publication an adventure). I am currently focusing on my family, my career, and staying in-shape so I can recreate when I have the time. I still live in Chico, CA and work as a geologist for a small environmental consulting firm in Northern California. I am also planning to complete my California Professional Geologist exams in the spring of 2012 and possibly find the time to begin master’s work at Chico State in the Fall of 2012. I'm not boarding as much as I would like, but somehow I manage to hit a majority of the weekday powder days. Overall, life is fulfilling for someone who is never satisfied :)” Duncan adds that his firm frequently is able to hire seasonals – Thanks Duncan!
Charles Kieser “I own a motel and RV park at the foot of the Big Horn Mountains. of Wyoming. I am still involved in photography, computer programming, hiking, snowboarding and off road motorcycling and mtn. biking. The skiing, hiking and snowmobiling in the Big Horns are excellent. Come on out!”
Joel Ruehle is still in Gunnison and owns a business called “Quick Draw Carpet Cleaning” and is one of the few senior carpet inspectors in the nation. Joel is married, just had a daughter and has become deeply involved with Gunnison Volunteer Fire Department.
Justin Tully “A word from Mongolia: After leaving the Denver oil and gas world a short 2 years ago, I find myself entering the third year (and field season) of a truly unique and exciting career move. Following invitation from Jim Coogan, we landed in Ulaanbaatar Mongolia in the spring of 2010 to build the first Mongolian based oil and gas exploration team. We quickly realized the infancy of both the industry and geological understanding in this part of the world. Like a child unleashed in a candy store I have been charged with the amazing task of conducting frontier exploration over a land area equal in size to the Republic of Ireland. From practically nothing we have, over the course of many months in the field and frigid months behind a computer, demonstrated the components of a petroleum system through outcrop studies, built the first chronostratigraphic framework for central Mongolia, acquired 2,200km of 2D seismic and drilled 2 ~1,500m continuous stratigraphic core holes! These and other advancements accomplished in such a short time by this small combined U.S./Mongolian exploration department are truly amazing. As a result, the first exploration wells ever to be drilled in this part of the world won’t be too far off now, which is exciting. While descriptions of frontier exploration of the Gobi-Altai ranges in Outer Mongolia may conjure likenesses to an Indiana Jones adventure, there is another side to the Mongolian experience. Ulaanbaatar, the capital city, is where we base all of our operations and bunker down in the frozen doldrums of the Siberian winter. It is a typical 3rd world city, from what I’ve experienced, in that it tends to be overcrowded and under infrastructured, all the while displaying the grim reality of a widely separated elite upper-class and remarkably low income lower-class. The idea of a wealth spreading middle class is beginning to develop, but will take some time. That said, it’s certainly an interesting place to visit in the summer months with many new green spaces and tasteful architecture popping up around the center and discos, nightlife and worldly cuisine to rival any medium sized U.S. city. Not to overlook the astounding history to be discovered and one of the few remaining countryside experiences that reveal people living off the land more or less as they did 3,000 years ago (less the Chinese satellite dish and MTV). As a kindred spirit of the Gunnison Valley, recreation has held as important a role as work during this tenure. The local ski area is a bit reminiscent of central Massachusetts skiing, backcountry is nil locally, but the lure of the glaciated Altai Mountains farther to the west remains. Ample vacation time has allowed travel home to Boston more often than when I lived in Colorado, as well as opened up worldly destinations I’ve long dreamed of visiting or whichever one the dart happens to land on. In October 2010 I started a second passion in BASE jumping, May this year I will be returning to Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland to continue developing my big-wall skills there. It has been a great pleasure to have made friends with the local search and rescue team here in Mongolia, which affords the opportunity to skydive from their Russian MI-8 helicopter several times a year. If it were to end tomorrow there isn’t a regret I could think of from making this move. Regardless of new horizons I may chase down the road, this one couldn’t have happened without WSC geology. Thank you.
Alantha Garrison “I got married in 2005 and worked as a geotechnical engineer in Southern California 2005 through 2006. Most of my work was in subsurface investigations, soil sampling, and compaction studies for residential and commercial developments. I’ve been working at Gunnison County Electric Association since 2007 and perform energy audits around the valley as well as many other member services for the coop, including weather data collection. It’s a great job and I’ve had lots of opportunities to continuously learn new things. I had a son in August 2010 and have been trying to keep up with him! We go out hiking in the mountains and the Utah canyonlands, as well as rock climbing, biking, snowmobiling, snowboarding, cross country skiing, four wheeling in our truck, and target practicing. Life has been really good!”
Perry Hooker “After WSC, I spent 4 years looking for gold in northeastern Nevada before moving to Missoula, MT to pursue a Master's degree in Computer Science. I'm on track to finish in May, after which I'll either enter a Ph.D program or find a job!”
Casey Dick “Things are going well. Upon my graduation from the University of Oklahoma last spring (MS Civil Engineering - Water Resources focus), Julie and I moved to Denver with our two kids Emily (3) and William (1), where I joined the water resources group of AECOM Technology Corporation. We purchased a renovated older home near downtown Denver, which provides me with a convenient commute (10 min. via bicycle). I send my heartfelt thanks to the faculty at WSC (especially the three of you) for providing me with a solid scientific and mathematical foundation that has allowed me to successfully pursue my dreams. I am doing what I love and am able to support my family with Julie staying home with the kids. I couldn't be happier.”
Donna Hepner is “self-employed as consultant and wellsite geologist in North Dakota on horizontal wells.” We see Donna now and then as she cruises back through town for R&R.
Kim Rousch “In short, I'm working as a Geotechnical Associate with the ExxonMobil Upstream Research Center in the Collisional Orogenic Systems Analysis group and am waiting to hear back from grad schools. Say hi to Vandenbushe next time you see him! I wish all the best to you.”
Dylan Tullius - “I am well, and have a new family now. Wife Sara, married 2 years next month, and new baby boy, Tayo born Dec 23rd. I should be done with my MSc. by the end of the summer on the sedimentology and reservoir potential of the Lower Cretaceous Isachsen Formation, Sverdrup Basin, Canadian Arctic Archipelago. I am looking forward to at least two publications in the next few months. I am currently looking for work, (and you can print that) but doing well and enjoying life in Calgary Alberta. Miss the slow life of the small town and hope to get back there one day, but ready to search the world over for a few years and find my niche.”
Amanda Mullett “I am currently a doctoral candidate in the Geography department at Kent State in Ohio. My dissertation research integrates GIS and spatial analysis, archaeology, and geology. I am attempting to identify the different land-use patterns and mobility choices for multiple archaeological groups throughout the Ohio region by mapping the distribution of various projectile points in relation to the source of the raw material that the points were constructed from. I am currently in the process of collecting data and writing different sections in my dissertation, and my graduate date will be Spring 2013. (If you are looking for a GIS, Archaeology, Geology, and Geography faculty member any time soon...) How are things in Gunnison? Is anything new happening in the basement of Hurst? I miss you all and think of the great experiences you all allowed me to have at Western.”
Nathan Rogers - “I’m staying close to home lately. I spent the last few years working on my M.S. at C.U. working on the Mancos Shale in the Piceance Basin. Still using the knowledge from what you guys at Western State Geology Faculty taught me!”
Andrew Payton After graduating from Western in December 2008, I took a job with Whetstone Associates which allowed me to live in Gunnison for a few more years. During the early months of 2011, I was craving a drastic change. Excitedly, I landed a job in Juneau for a mining & oil and gas consulting company. My girlfriend and I packed our bags, and had even bought ferry tickets for this move. Several weeks before the move, I received an e-mail from Jim Coogan outlining a fantastic opportunity in Mongolia. I had to take it! Since moving to Mongolia in May of 2011, the past year has been packed to the brim with vivid memorable experiences, including many ups and downs. I have been intimately involved in the frontier exploration of enormous blocks of land in the Gobi-Altai region of Central Mongolia, approximately 400 mi wide x 100 mi in height. With some vintage Russian geologic maps, cached GoogleEarth, and a GPS our navigational skills have been an essential part of the job. With no trees, tundra-like vegetation, few to no existing roads (definitely NOT paved) and a vast peneplain extending into the horizon, becoming disoriented is not hard. As one can imagine, the wind and sand blows often here, and some have had tents broken and/or blown away. No matter where we go, or how isolated we think we are, we always see signs of nomads, whether it be small cans, a random shoe, piles of dung, or old ger sites. One gets the impression the Gobi is a timeless place.
One aspect of the job I have enjoyed and benefitted greatly from is working with Petro Matad’s academic collaborators: Dr. Cari Johnson (University of Utah), Dr. Stephan Graham (Stanford), and Dr. Brian Horton (University of Texas). I’ve observed and gained an understanding of the beneficial relationship between industry and academia. Their expertise and knowledge has helped me to refine my future career aspirations. Working in the field and the Ulaanbaatar office are polar opposite parts of my experience. Ulaanbaatar has experienced tremendous growth over the past decade, and there are signs of these growing pains everywhere. It has been a positive and at times very difficult experience living in this city. Unbelievable traffic, air pollution, and general crowdedness have been considerable challenges for me. Mongolian is a very difficult language to learn, and although I can speak a few basic phrases and direct a taxi around, I largely have little understanding of the language. However, I have learned to pronounce and understand some Cyrillic, which has been amusing to me. Many of my Mongolian coworkers I have found to be very friendly, funny, and caring people, I am impressed by many aspects of their culture. However long I continue my stint in Mongolia, I will always be grateful for taking this opportunity. Time and again, my education at Western has been paramount to my work here. I cannot be thankful enough for the high technical capability of the Western State geology program, as well as the down-to-earth and caring attitude of every professor in the program. Thank you so much!
You can keep up with Andrew’s adventures at his blog site: paytonageo.blogspot.com.
Greg Meldrum “I've just been working with SWCA as an Environmental Consultant (Cultural Resource Technician), mainly conducting archaeological survey and site monitoring. For the job I've surveyed for seismic projects, well pads and wind farms in Colorado, and have monitored in Wyoming for the Greencore Pipeline Project. Also, since graduating, I've worked with the BLM in Gunnison as an Archaeological Field Technician during the summer of 2010. I enjoy fly fishing, sluicing and snowboarding in my free time.”
Edmund Morrison “Still working to reduce energy use & support future considerate ðical energy production.”
Tanner Sowa “Well, I've spent the past 2 years and some months in the oil field. I've racked up a pretty impressive amount of job titles ranging from the bottom all the way to the top. I started out as a mud-logger on the east coast which I quickly learned was worthless. The oil companies expect a certain lithology and when you report differently they think you are an idiot. I then moved up to geosteering still on the east coast, which was better but still gone lots of days for little pay. I finally took a leap and went directional driller/MWD/LWD consultant about 1.5 years ago, which landed me way over my head and in charge of steering oil/gas wells during drilling. After several months I figured out the ropes and haven't turned back since. Being a directional driller has enabled me to work in 6 different states and start picking away at my college loans. Over my travels I realized just how great the Western State Geology program is. I have worked with grad students from UT, A&M, and other big name schools and felt that my geology education doesn't even compare. I feel that when I do decide to go back for my masters I'll be well prepared thanks to you and the rest of the Western professors.”
Matt McConnell “Continuing education at Colorado School of Mines towards a Masters in Petroleum Engineering and gaining experience in both geology and engineering at Antero Resources in Denver.”
Thomas Sunderland “I hope all is well, and you are doing fine. I have enjoyed working at the BLM in Lander Wyoming, and I am the project lead on several uranium EIS's. I am also permitting and overseeing several gold mining operations.”