Candidate for Secretary (2021-2023)

Rachelle Kernen
Honorary Research Fellow
Australian School of Petroleum & Energy Resources, The University of Adelaide, South Australia



Something new from AAPG: Join AAPG Executive Director David Curtiss for a roundtable discussion with secretary candidates Jonathan Allen and Rachelle Kernen about AAPG’s place in today’s world of energy transition, the importance of diversity throughout the Association, the skills needed to effectively tell “our story,” AAPG’s relevance in today’s fast-changing energy arena, and much more.

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I accept the invitation to stand as a candidate for AAPG secretary because I am a driven volunteer who is passionate about serving the greater energy geoscience community. I think it’s really important to not only engage with young professionals and underrepresented populations within our community, but also consider topics such as the energy transition and how it will impact the greater AAPG community. Because the AAPG has substantial influence in elevating the careers of energy geoscientists I think it’s important for that influence to reach all levels of membership in a fair, inclusive manner.

Because of my blue-collar upbringing, international industry experience and academic background, I am well versed to serve a diverse audience. I understand some of the career difficulties that our local and international members may experience and am passionate about helping others. I am passionate about people, sustainability in the energy sector, the environment and “doing the right thing,” even when it seems like a torturous path. I hope my leadership will enable AAPG volunteers and staff to be empowered to sustain this organization through the global energy transition.

It will be exceedingly important that the Executive Committee pursues relationships with people and businesses beyond the “standard” petroleum industry. I hope to be able to engage with leaders in mining, renewables, environmental, geothermal sectors, carbon capture and hydrogen storage in order to create a more agile, forward-thinking organization. Even though petroleum geoscience is at the heart of this organization, it’s really important to integrate with the other energy sectors in order to ensure the overall success of the greater AAPG community.

I am passionate about being a leader and bringing a high technical and ethical standard into everything that I do. I see the AAPG as being an organization that has the potential to foster and grow this type of behavior, and as we move forward it will be really important that AAPG’s leadership embodies these principals. I stand for a beacon of hope and social progression, which at this time in AAPG’s history is needed in order to embrace the younger generations that will carry the organization to address the next generation of energy issues.

AAPG has the potential to be an amazing, fruitful organization, but there are some serious issues within the organizational and social structure that are of concern. The main reason why I am pursuing this leadership role is to help the AAPG transform into an organization that everyone wants to be a part of. As it stands, AAPG needs a serious overhaul in ideologies, including a proper climate change statement, equity for all genders, autonomy between leadership, staff and membership populations, and an ethics overhaul. Until these issues are appropriately dealt with, this organization will continue to suffer financially.

I hope to be a part of that change and hope to bring strong leadership with positivity to the root of the AAPG organization and community.

Academic Degrees

  • 2019 – Ph.D., Geological Sciences, the University of Texas at El Paso
  • 2012-14 – Royal Dutch Shell Graduate Program
  • 2011 – MSc, Geology, New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, N.M.
  • 2008 – B.S., Geology, the University of Wisconsin at Oshkosh


  • 2020-Present – Honorary Research Fellow (postdoc), Australian School of Petroleum & Energy Resources, the University of Adelaide, South Australia.
  • 2018-19 – Adjunct Faculty, El Paso Community College, El Paso, Texas.
  • 2018 – Development geologist-Gulf of Mexico, BP Americas, Houston.
  • 2017 – Visiting Salt Tectonics Resarch Geologist, the Bureau of Economic Geology, Austin, Texas.
  • 2015-19 – Assistant Instructor, the University of Texas at El Paso, El Paso, Texas.
  • 2011-15 – Exploration Geologist, Royal Dutch Shell, Houston.
  • 2011 – Geologist Intern, Samson Resources, Houston.
  • 2008-10 – Teaching Assistant, New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, N.M.
  • 2006-08 – Teaching Assistant, the University of Wisconsin at Oshkosh.


AAPG Activities

  • 2020-Present – Salt Basins Technical Interest Group (founder)
  • 2020-Present – Co-Chair, AAPG Women’s Network
  • 2020 – Lead Principal Investigator, AAPG Women’s Network Consortium
  • 2019 – Chair, ACE Salt Tectonic Session and Student Volunteer Committee
  • 2016-17 – IBA Mentor, University of Texas at El Paso
  • 2014-16 – Technical Session Chair-Salt Tectonics, GCAGS-SEPM

AAPG Honors & Awards

  • 2019-20 – Vernon G. and Joy Hunt Endowed Scholarship Fund in Geology
  • 2018 – Roswell Geological Society Foundation Scholarship
  • 2018 – West Texas Geological Foundation Scholarship
  • 2017 – AAPG Student Expo Poster Winner
  • 2017 – GSA Penrose Conference Student Award
  • 2017 – GSA-SC Best Student Poster Award
  • 2016 – AAPG Grants-in-Aid David Wiman Award
  • 2016 – UTEP Geology Bruce Davidson Memorial Award
  • 2009 – AAPG Grants-in-Aid Awardee


Rachelle is the author or co-author of 26 articles, posters and abstracts, including:

  • 2019 – Kernen, R.A., Giles, K.A., Poe, P., Gannaway, C.E., Rowan, M.G., Fiduk, J.C., Hearon, T.E., Origin of the Rim Dolomite as Lateral Caprock, Flinder Ranges, South Australia, Australian Journal of Earth Sciences (UNESCO World Heritage nomination)
  • 2019 – Rowen, M.G., Hearon, T.E., Kernen, R.A., Giles, K.A., Gannaway, C.E., Williams, N.J., Fiduk, J.C., Lawton, T.F., Hannah, P.T., Fischer, M.P., A Rview of Allochthonous Salt Tectonics in the Flinders and Willouran Ranges, South Australia, Australian Journal of Earth Sciences (UNESCO World Heritage nomination)
  • 2015 – Hearon, T.E. IV, Rowan, M.G., Giles, K.A., Kernen, R.A., Gannaway, C.E., Lawton, T.F., Fiduk, C.J., Allochthonous Salt Initiation and Advance in the Northern Flinders and Eastern Willouran Ranges, South Australia: Using Outcrops to Test Subsurface-Based Models from the Northern Gulf of Mexico, AAPG Bulletin.
  • 2012 – Kernen, R.A., Giles, K.A., Lawton, T.F., Rowan, M.G., Hearon, T.E. IV, Depositional and Halokinetic Sequence Stratigraphy of the Neoproterozoic Wilpena Group Adjacent to Patawarta Allochthonous Salt Sheet, Central Flinders Ranges, South Australia, in Geological Society of London Special Publication 363, Salt Tectonics, Sedimentation and Prospectivity

Other Candidate

General Info

Candidates for AAPG office have been given the opportunity to respond briefly to the subject: "Why I Accepted the Invitation to be a Candidate for an AAPG Office."

Their responses and biographical information were provided by each candidate and edited only for grammar, spelling and format.

This information will also be provided as hard-copy in an early issue of the EXPLORER and available on the AAPG website through the election period. Ballots will be mailed, online in the first quarter of each year. Results will be posted mid-May.

Candidates were asked to limit their biographies to 350 words and responses to 500 words.

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