Speaker: Chip Groat, Director-USGS
Keep Improving, Expand Focus
By LOUISE S. DURHAM
there is life after 25 -- but if the goal is to improve upon an
already good thing, it will require more than just routine maintenance.
Thats the message Chip Groat, director of the
U.S. Geological Survey, delivered to the members of the 25-year-old
Energy Minerals Division (EMD) of AAPG during a luncheon talk at
the recent annual meeting in Houston.
AAPG's EMD sector was formed to focus attention on
energy resources beyond oil and gas. Noting that the core strength
of EMD always has been a dedicated membership, Groat praised the
manner in which the organization has ventured into new areas.
"One of the more interesting aspects of EMD is it
has gotten involved in things beyond the limiting scope of its name,"
he said. "This shows EMD has understood how other techniques and
technologies are important to the geosciences and resource sciences
In particular, he pointed to the transformation of
the Remote Sensing Committee to the Geospatial Information Committee
as a result of the emergence of geographic information systems as
a powerful tool to understand relationships among geospatial elements.
EMD's viability thus far is aptly demonstrated by
increased membership and the high level of services and professional
value it provides, while keeping dues reasonable. With interest
in alternative energy sources certain to increase, the reason for
EMD appears secure, Groat said.
The only question is whether more of the same is adequate
to keep the division going in the future. Based on experience with
efforts at the USGS to better communicate across disciplines/divisions
and also expand its audience, Groat suggested some new directions
that might ensure not only the continuing strength of EMD but creative
growth as well.
value via matrix relationships -- not an easy task for most scientists
and engineers. Specialty groups from different professional organizations
could meet and hold workshops organized around themes. For instance,
there is much interest in gas hydrates on the part of scientists,
engineers and others, and interest in coal is present in a variety
of sub-groups of various organizations.
Such informal arrangements would give all people interested
in that topic added momentum and clout through pooled resources,
resulting in increased ability to get things done -- more so than
a small group within an individual organization. This "matrixing"
brings together people with a vision commonality, yet allows them
to retain their affiliation and loyalty to the parent organization.
of an organization can be achieved by expanding the audience.
"Professional societies need the ability to convince
and show people what they do has value," Groat said, "not only to
the country and the greater good of energy resources that are dependable,
but also to the greater good of the individuals who, whether they
know it or not, depend on these resources."
could assume some of the educational responsibilities that could
advance public awareness. This could be expanded to include better
understanding about how the global patchwork of resources other
than oil and gas comes together.
"This is the logical sort of thing for EMD to take
on," Groat said, "not just all itself but to advocate it needs to
be done to increase the understanding and importance of these resources
at all levels."
is a need for integration to diminish organizational barriers for
better communication. In the case of some professional societies,
this could mean merging at the threat of concerning some people
who belong to the organization.
"Im not saying out with the old,"
Groat said, "but suggesting we add value to what we can bring by
working with each other to identify common interests and pull the
right people together to do it."
For EMD to not only maintain its ongoing success but
to enhance what it brings to both its membership and the public,
the core message is to look beyond boundaries to serve broader interests
by taking a broader view -- while continuing to stay relative to
"Im confident it can be done," Groat told his
audience, "and well add wrinkles and opportunities to our
kit bag for us to grow and succeed to an even greater extent over
the next 25 years."