MVSP Yellow Ribbon Series - Roberta A. Thompson

Changes over Time - Military Veteran Embarks on a New Career

American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG)

The Yellow Ribbon Series focuses on the stories of returning military veterans who are pursuing degrees in the geosciences as a transition into the workforce with civilian technical careers. Each veteran featured in the series is a previous recipient of the AAPG Foundation’s Military Veteran Scholarship Award. 

Geological processes hold a fascination for Roberta A. Thompson. “I am intrigued by the processes of stratigraphy, how one geological event affects another, and the way nature adapts in a domino response,” she said. “It is these changes over geological time that captivate my curiosity in understanding an environments story and the sheer beauty of it all.”

As a military veteran pursuing a new career, Thompson knows all about changes over time. She is currently in her final semester, completing a degree in geology at the University of Tulsa, after an extensive military career spanning over 29 years.

Thompson was a recipient of the 2017 AAPG Foundation’s Deana and Paul Strunk Military Veterans Scholarship Program (MVSP), a program that offers scholarships to military veterans pursuing geoscience degrees. The MVSP is designed to help those who have served their country make a transition into new careers in the geosciences. 

Thompson served a five-year tour of active duty enlistment in the United States Air Force in material management, where she was deployed to operations in combat service support of Air and Space Expeditionary Force Operation Enduring Freedom. She then transferred to the Air Force Reserves, working in logistics for three years, then serving as an Individual Mobilization Augmentee for nine years. Thompson has served almost 13 years in the Oklahoma Air National Guard as a photojournalist and is currently the Public Affairs superintendent at the 138th Fighter Wing, while concurrently completing her studies as a full-time undergraduate geology student.

Thompson said that during her final semester as an undergrad, she is “researching the geochemical correlations between Wichita Mountains and Atoka Formation mudrocks as an independent study,” and she is “preparing for my geology field camp this summer, which will be five weeks of caravan camping through ten states studying the American West.”

When asked what is next on her horizon following graduation, Thompson said, “My immediate goal is to be accepted to the University of Tulsa Graduate School,” where she plans to continue her studies, “expanding my understanding of sedimentation behavioral differences based on varying environments and how the sequence of deposition affects petroleum reservoirs. Ultimately, my goal as an industry petroleum geologist is to better understand these processes, knowledgeably explore for, and develop fossil fuels competently.”

Thompson credits AAPG membership as helping her prepare for her career after serving in the military.

“Being a member of AAPG, has provided access to a huge array of publications,” which allowed her to “explore diverse opportunities within the geology profession,” she said. “My AAPG membership has given me perspective in the direction I want to proceed in my new-found career.”

The MVSP awards range from $2,000 to $4,000 and may be used for educational expenses and costs of attendance.

Applications are now open. and all materials must be submitted to AAPG Foundation no later than 11:59 p.m., (PDT) May 1, 2018. Scholarships are provided for the following academic year. Review Requirements and Guidelines or get more details at AAPG Foundation's Military Veterans Scholarship Program website. You may also email AAPG Foundation with any questions or comments, or call (918) 560-9462, Toll Free at 1 (855) 302-2743.

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