Gulf Coast Section
The Gulf Coast Section of AAPG (Gulf Coast Association of Geological Societies) strives not only to enhance its long-time successful programs in continuing education and student and faculty aid, but also to do its part in helping achieve various other AAPG goals; to improve its communications with AAPG Leadership, Staff, Divisions, House of Delegates, and Committees; and to increase support of its Affiliated Societies.
The high-quality technical programs and published Transactions of each of its annual conventions have been the flagship activities of the Section. At press time, the Section was making final preparations for the 2010 Annual Convention, hosted by the South Texas Geological Society in San Antonio on October 10-12. The technical program, with 108 oral and poster presentations on various timely topics, will include a special symposium on the forming and filling of the Gulf of Mexico Basin. Other highlights will be a special opening session and awards ceremony, an exhibition, short courses, field trips, luncheons with guest speakers, a student program with workshops on technical and career management topics, an IBA training session, a teacher training program, and some very enjoyable social events and spouse activities.
In a continuing effort to streamline the planning and execution of its annual conventions, the Section made significant revisions to its “Annual Meeting Operations Manual” this year. Also, the Section has multi-year contracts with consultants and service providers who are crucial in the areas of convention management, website management, meeting publications, and registration and abstract processing. To provide greater continuity and standardization, the Section’s Board has given the Continuity Committee increasing responsibility in overseeing the long-term scheduling and planning of the conventions. As another aspect of long-term planning, the Board this year approved securing the annual convention domain name through the year 2020.
To address an issue concerning the convention publication, it is the Section’s goal to bring the Transactions to a truly “peer-reviewed” status so that its papers may be recognized as such by the profession. For the 2010 Transactions, the Editor required that every paper be reviewed by at least two peers, in addition to the technical editing and review performed by the editorial committee itself (also peers). The Section’s Continuity Committee recruited a cadre of associate editors and reviewers who will serve year after year to help lighten the load of each Transactions Editor and to provide consistency to the editorial and review process.
Student and Faculty Support
Through its on-going Student and Faculty Grant Programs, the Section this year awarded a total of $25,750 to 16 students for their Gulf Coast research projects, as well as one $10,000 grant and one $5,000 grant for faculty research. Also, to provide an incentive for the Affiliated Societies to raise funds for their registered scholarship foundations, the Section began a new Scholarship Fund-Matching Program on January 1, 2010, and it will continue through June 30, 2011. The Section will match newly raised funds one-to-one, up to a total of $10,000 per each Society.
The Section’s Imperial Barrel Award competition serves as a semi-final event for AAPG’s global IBA program, and six teams competed in this year’s event in March. However, through greater support and publicity, the Section hopes to bring more university teams into future competitions. The Section increased its level of contribution to the IBA program general funding from $2,500 to $5,000 this year, and the Section’s IBA Committee raised $24,944 in industry sponsorship. The Committee also conducted an IBA training session for the students prior to this year’s competition, and a similar training session will be held in conjunction with the Section’s 2010 Annual Convention.
One other aspect of student support in which the Section looks to play an increasing role is interaction with AAPG Student Chapters in the Gulf Coast area. A good way of achieving this will be through a direct link of the Section’s new Young Professionals Committee with the Student Chapters.
Young Professionals Committee
As a direct response to AAPG’s efforts to expand its Young Professionals program, the Section this year established a Young Professionals Committee as a new standing committee. This Committee will oversee Section-level YP activities, such as the Meet ‘n’ Greet planned for the 2010 Convention, as well as help organize local chapters within the Gulf Coast area.
Honors and Awards Program
The Section continues to honor its deserving members for their outstanding service and achievements through several categories of awards. The 2010 awardees, in addition to the winners of best presentation, best poster, and best paper awards from the 2009 Annual Convention, will be recognized in a special ceremony at the 2010 Convention. Of special note on awards, the Section’s 2009 Teacher of the Year, Stef Paramoure, was proudly endorsed by the Section as an applicant for the 2010 AAPG Foundation’s “Award for Excellence in the Teaching of Natural Resources in the Earth Sciences,” for which she was ultimately selected as winner. The Section’s Affiliated Societies have been encouraged to seek out and nominate other outstanding teachers, and the Section increased the monetary part of its Teacher of the Year Award to $2,000 this year to help build the incentive for teachers to participate in this award program.
Publicity and Outreach
In addition to publicizing through its main website and its convention website, the Gulf Coast Section is actively seeking additional ways to interact not only with various AAPG entities but also publicize itself with other professional and industry-related groups, ranging from relatively small organizations to groups even larger than itself. In 2010, the GCAGS sponsored and contributed funds toward the Oil History Symposium held by the Petroleum History Institute in Lafayette, Louisiana in April, and donated sponsorship funds to the Energy Libraries Conference, held in San Antonio in October. Also, the GCAGS, for the first time, was an official endorser of the Summer NAPE Expo in Houston.
What AAPG Means to Me
I joined AAPG in 1977 while I was a graduate student at The University of Texas at Austin and a research assistant at the Texas Bureau of Economic Geology. My focus during graduate school was on petroleum geology, and I became an AAPG member because of my own interest and inclination, as well as the encouragement by my co-workers and mentors at the BEG. The most significant ways I have benefited from being an AAPG member have been the continuing education opportunities it has provided me through annual meeting technical programs and exhibitions, seminars, workshops, field trips, and publications, and also the networking opportunities during conventions and other events. I consider many of my professional acquaintances made through AAPG activities to be true friendships, and they are too many to list individually. While participating in AAPG activities has led directly to some business contacts, the generation of contacts is perhaps not as important as the trust, fairness, and mutual respect that come with dealing with a fellow AAPG member, regardless of how the contact was made. Overall, being an AAPG member has been unquestionably one of the greatest factors in my professional development.