• Home
  • Kansas Geological Survey honors outstanding students

Kansas Geological Survey honors outstanding students

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

LAWRENCE — Four University of Kansas students received outstanding achievement awards in May from the Kansas Geological Survey, based on KU’s west campus.

Diana Ortega-Ariza, a doctoral student in geology from Fusagasuga, Colombia, received the William W. Hambleton Student Research Award. A graduate research assistant in the KGS Stratigraphic Research section, Ortega-Ariza is researching how controls, such as oceanographic and sea level fluctuations, influenced deposition of carbonate rocks in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic during the Oligocene and Miocene time (about 30 million to 5 million years ago). Her results are shedding new light on important climatic, oceanographic, and tectonic events that affected the Caribbean region and are providing new models that can be used to evaluate systems through geologic time and around the world, including the oil-bearing Mississippian limestone play in western Kansas.

Ortega-Ariza also helped with a research project on the Mississippian play carbonates in Ness County and was involved in a project evaluating the characteristics of the Donovan oil and gas field in Russell County. The first chapter of her dissertation has been accepted for publication in The Journal of Geology, and she has received numerous grant awards for her research.

The Hambleton award is named for the KGS director from 1970 to 1986 and is given for excellence in research as demonstrated by outstanding writing or oral presentation.

James Skees, a May graduate with a bachelor’s degree in finance from St. Marys, received the Norman Plummer Outstanding Student Award. A clerical and data entry assistant in the KGS Data Resources Library, Skees archives state water well records, scans and enters data to make it available to the public and provides quality control. He assists in revising and updating procedures and documentation, and when records arrive incomplete, he takes the initiative to contact drilling companies for missing data.

Skees has been commended for his excellent service helping the public and KGS staff members research oil, gas and water well information and providing website assistance. Skees graduated with business honors, was involved in the Finance Club and Finance Scholars Program at KU, and participated in the KU Global Awareness Program and Douglas County United Way.

The award is named for a KGS staff member from 1936 to 1969.

Amanda Livers, a master’s degree student in geophysics from Sidney, Montana, received the Lee C. and Darcy Gerhard Field Research Student Award. As a graduate research assistant in the KGS Exploration Services section, Livers is part of a team that developed a unique methodology to acquire seismic data and determine the direction and relative magnitude of a seismic energy source. With more than 400 sensors, she monitored the seismic energy generated by trains converging from three directions at a solution-well field near Hutchinson where subsistence is a concern. She operated the seismograph throughout the night to record high-quality data. The study has grown into a monitoring project, and the results are integral to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment public safety program.

Livers also led a seven-member field crew, planned instrument deployment for two studies and co-authored two technical reports.

The Gerhard award is named for the KGS director from 1987 to 1999 and his wife.

Hillary Crabb, a May graduate with a bachelor’s degree in environmental studies from Dunlap, Illinois, received the Jack Dangermond/Esri Geospatial Technologies Student Award. A member of the KGS Cartographic Services unit, Crabb helped with various aspects of the KGS county geologic mapping program, including map layout, data editing and proofreading. She downloaded and converted geographic information system (GIS) data, such as the location of roads, city boundaries, rivers and lakes, from U.S. Geological Survey topographic map series to be used as the base for the KGS geologic maps. A GIS is a combination of computer hardware, software and data used to collect, interpret, manage and display all types of geographically referenced information.

The Dangermond award was established by Jack Dangermond, president of the Environmental Systems Research Institute Inc., to recognize student accomplishments in the application of geospatial technologies.

The Kansas Geological Survey studies and provides information on the state's geologic resources and hazards, particularly ground water, oil, natural gas and other minerals. It employs approximately 35 students. The recipients were presented cash awards and certificates.