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Digging Deeper with Ashley Harris

AAPG Energy Insights Podcast Episode 1

AAPG Energy Insights Podcast Episode 1

Summary

Digging Deeper with Ashley Harris, Team Lead for the Clastic Stratigraphy Team at Chevron Energy Technology Company in Houston and 2018-2019 AAPG-AAPG Foundation Distinguished Lecturer. AAPG Energy Insights Podcast Episode 1.

Full Transcript

VERN STEFANIC: Hi, and welcome to AAPG's Energy Insights. I'm Vern Stefanic, Director of Administration and Programs for AAPG, and this is a new podcast from AAPG that today is digging deeper by having a conversation with one of this year's speakers for the AAPG, AAPG Foundation's new Distinguished Lecture Series. Our guest today is Ashley Harris, the Team Leader for the Clastic Stratigraphy Team at Chevron Energy Technology Company in Houston.

And incidentally, Ashley's distinguished lecture, which is available for either downloading or streaming on the AAPG website, is titled Re-evaluating the Relationship Between Relative Sea Level and Sediment Distribution Using Numerical Stratigraphic Forward Models. We'll talk about that a lot more in just a moment. But today, we get to know a little bit more about Ashley and the work that went into his research, and the passion that brought him to this moment in his career. Ashley, welcome to Digging Deeper.

ASHLEY HARRIS: Thank you so much. I greatly appreciate being invited here. This is a wonderful opportunity, and I'm pretty excited.

VERN STEFANIC: Well good. And I'm serious. For all of you out there, this is, in fact, the very first AAPG podcast, a new series that we're starting, which will feature all of our distinguished lecturers, both in conversations and also their talks will be presented. But it also will feature people from throughout the energy industry. It's going to be an ongoing series, and we're glad that you all are listening to it. Ashley, we're glad that you're the first person to be part of it. And along those lines-- along those lines, let me tell you.

So we're doing this largely because there was a member of the Executive Committee AAPG Executive Committee, who said we got to have podcasts, and we've got to get them going. And her name is Laura Johnson. That's our elected secretary for AAPG. And she is tremendously excited that you are the first guest. And she said, you have to ask him. You have to ask him, what got you into geology?

ASHLEY HARRIS: OK, good. So first, I'm excited to be the first one. It's pretty interesting. Maybe my kids will actually listen to me now because I'm on a podcast. What got me into geology? That's a great question, Laura. The idea of being outside has always appealed to me. The notion that I could make a living by doing activities outdoors is great.

As a kid, I grew up in a pretty woodsy area in South Jersey. And so I was always outdoors doing things. And so the notion that you could make some money but be outdoors is great. Also geologists, generally they're pretty cool people, right? Wearing plaid shirts and ripped up jeans, that appealed to me. Of course, today, that's not what I'm doing.

VERN STEFANIC: No, no, looking pretty sharp right now, I must say.

ASHLEY HARRIS: Thank you. Thank you. But the idea that in geology you could do so many different things-- it's a field that integrates so many different disciplines of science. And so that's appealing to me. And quite frankly, it's challenging for me. It's not an easy science. And I enjoy that.

VERN STEFANIC: Well, let me ask you. Just specifically, you mentioned quickly that you're from New Jersey.

ASHLEY HARRIS: Yes.

VERN STEFANIC: So, in fact, coincidentally, over the past couple of years, we've had and what I thought was an extremely large number of members of the AAPG Executive Committee who were from New York City. It's just kind of interesting. And they all had stories about what attracted them to, specifically, geology, which is why I asked you.

So and they talked about going to museums. They talked about finding rocks on the seashore. Was there anything like that, that was appealing to you?

ASHLEY HARRIS: Yeah, I think so. I grew up in a place called the Pine Barrens, or in the fringe of the Pine Barrens. When most people think of New Jersey, they think of Newark Airport, right?

VERN STEFANIC: That's right. Yeah.

ASHLEY HARRIS: And they think the rest of New Jersey looks like that.

VERN STEFANIC: That was me. That was my first thought, yeah.

ASHLEY HARRIS: And that's definitely not the case. Actually, South Jersey is beautiful. Like I said, it's Pine Barrens. And so I grew up around lots of pine trees and a whole bunch of sand. And so the idea that I could do something or make a living by being in those kind of settings is great. And, of course, there are not a lot of outcrops in South Jersey.

VERN STEFANIC: That's what I was going to ask about. Yeah.

ASHLEY HARRIS: Yeah, so actually, it wasn't until I got to grad school at Rutgers University, where I was able to be part of a drilling project, to understand the paleo-oceanographic, paleoecologic, and sea level changes on the New Jersey margin going back hundreds million years. And so that was a program where we took continuous core dating back to the Cretaceous. And so much of my work, actually, was looking at that core and developing a series of investigations from that core.

VERN STEFANIC: Let me interrupt you. So it sounds like it was more the subject and the overall theme of geology rather than maybe a single teacher or a single class. Is that accurate?

ASHLEY HARRIS: Yeah, I think that's accurate, although I've had some fantastic teachers encourage me to explore different things, different ideas, and not necessarily geologists, but people who were chemists and biologists who advised me to try a lot of different things. And I think that's my advice for anyone, any young person, say, in high school or undergrad is to try a bunch of things, especially if your curriculum allows for you to take different courses.

VERN STEFANIC: Yeah. Yeah, Yeah. OK. Now, when you were at Rutgers, you were part of the New Jersey Coastal Plain Drilling Project. That's what you were talking about before.

ASHLEY HARRIS: Yes, yes.

VERN STEFANIC: And I know that just that phrase means a lot to many people. But to some, they may not understand completely what was the purpose of that. Was that school funded? Was that somebody else funded? And what happened to the results of all that? Why were you doing that?

ASHLEY HARRIS: OK, so that's a program that was led by my advisor, Dr. Kenneth Miller. And the idea was that they wanted to understand paleo-oceanographic changes, sea level changes on the New Jersey margin for the last 100 million years. And in fact, some of what I present in my AAPG distinguished lecture is the eustatic curve that was derived from the New Jersey margin.

So he's been involved and many others, including Jim Browning, Pete Sugarman, to name a few, have been involved in developing those records of the history of the New Jersey margin. And so I just plugged in. I was one of many students that plugged into that. And my focus was on the Paleocene, earliest Eocene sea level changes and paleo-oceanographic changes. And I was very fortunate because I got experience sitting on a drill rig, describing core, washing core, doing biostratigraphic analysis.

And all of those things were very appealing to me because you're integrating a bunch of different things to put together a story. And I think that's what also led me to the energy industry. Because the energy industry requires integrators.

VERN STEFANIC: Yeah. Well, exactly. Let me back up a second. So what was the first rig where you sat?

ASHLEY HARRIS: Oh, gosh. I think it was-- I can't remember if it was-- oh, my adviser's going to kill me. I think it was [? Seager. ?] I can't remember. But so there is a series of holes that were drilled on the New Jersey margin.

VERN STEFANIC: So you were offshore?

ASHLEY HARRIS: No, it's actually onshore.

VERN STEFANIC: Oh, OK.

ASHLEY HARRIS: So the funny thing is that a lot of the sites where the core was taken to do this analysis were in the Pine Barrens, or you know in places where I went as a kid, which I kind of never expected to actually do my dissertation in some of those places, places I drove by and never thought of.

VERN STEFANIC: Oh, man, like a dream come true. So but it was the idea that you were dealing with the earth in this large picture of how it was created, how it was formed. Is that what was pulling you in?

ASHLEY HARRIS: Yeah. I think we all go to the beach. We all go to the shore. And it's interesting to see how things can change over time, and how those changes impact the ecology and a number of other things. And so, for me, it just seemed like a natural fit, although I was studying things that were 65 million years ago. So it's a lot different time. Yeah, half of New Jersey was underwater at that time.

VERN STEFANIC: Yeah, but I got to think. There were probably a lot where-- not a lot in your family-- maybe a lot in your friends who from high school who were going this direction with their careers. This must have been-- you were unique, right?

ASHLEY HARRIS: Yeah, not too many friends from high school or elementary school I don't think went this path. Maybe they did. They should contact me. I don't know. But I grew up in a family that emphasized science in general, and being curious, and quite frankly just being out of the house.

VERN STEFANIC: Well, yeah. So yeah, this was like everything coming together for you. I love that. But so far in your story, almost everything is in Jersey, or east coast oriented.

ASHLEY HARRIS: Yes.

VERN STEFANIC: And so your first job out of-- once you graduated from Rutgers was--

ASHLEY HARRIS: At Chevron.

VERN STEFANIC: OK, where was that.

ASHLEY HARRIS: Yeah I was in New Jersey forever, never thought I'd leave. Of course, have to get a job. And I did two internships for Chevron while I was in grad school-- very much loved it. I liked the people. I liked the types of projects, incredibly challenging projects.

I don't have answers even for some of those projects, but that kind of problem solving appealed to me. And the fact that you could integrate a bunch of different tools to address those problems or solve those problems were appealing to me. The idea that you could integrate geophysics, classic stratigraphic characterization, reservoir characterization, biostratigraphy, chemostratigraphy, and of course the numerical models, which I talk about in the lecture series.

VERN STEFANIC: Yeah, and I want to get to that because I think that's fascinating that you go into that. But with Chevron, you started doing the-- in their mid-continent business unit, did you not?

ASHLEY HARRIS: That's right.

VERN STEFANIC: So you were not in Jersey. You were now-- you were in a new world.

ASHLEY HARRIS: Long left Jersey and into Houston, Texas. Texas has adopted me. And yeah, so that's where I started out in the mid-continent business unit, which is in Houston. And at the time, I was on the team focused on South Texas and Asset Development. When I got in the industry, I wanted to know the nuts and bolts of how it worked, identifying prospects and drilling. That's part of what we do.

So that was a fantastic experience because I realized I had a ways to go, especially on things related to business, project management, and so on.

VERN STEFANIC: Did you have a-- did you have a feel, even at that time on a specific direction that you were going to be heading in your career?

ASHLEY HARRIS: Yeah, I've always wanted to be a technical person. I enjoy those types of things. There are different types of roles that you can be in while you're at Chevron. And that technical role appeals to me because, once again, it's very challenging. But even then, I knew that I needed to have some understanding of the base business. I think that's critical. That's the bottom line.

So I felt like that was part of my education, if you will. Because the goal is to use the things that I'm presenting in the lecture series and try apply it to business to help them improve their results. That's the end goal.

VERN STEFANIC: Yeah, the business of putting it all together. Putting it all together, that's right.

VERN STEFANIC: But were there any specific challenges that surprised you as you were starting out on your career, as you were trying to figure all of this out, things that were completely unexpected, just hit you right in the nose?

ASHLEY HARRIS: Yeah, I think the first thing is-- coming out of grad school, doing your PhD, and you're thrown into helping out a business. And you realize you know very little about some of the ongoings of the business, and that the business actually is quite complex. Fortunately, Chevron has a support system to help us get up to speed on certain aspects of the business, and how projects are managed, and how your science and your geology can impact results.

VERN STEFANIC: OK. Was getting to Houston, was that a difficult and a lengthy process, or did something-- an opening just came there, and all the sudden you were there? Getting to Houston, how did that happen?

ASHLEY HARRIS: It was all through recruiting. So we had recruiters come to Rutgers. And I got selected to do an internship. Did that with the Gulf of Mexico. I think part of what attracted Chevron to me was the fact that I was part of some of these drilling projects, and studied sea level, and studied stratigraphy, and biology, or paleobiology, biostratigraphy to be exact, and geochemistry.

So my background coming out of school was somewhat of an integrator, if you will. And I think those kind of skills appeal to the recruiters, and of course, the business units that brought me in as an intern. And then through that process I was able to get a full time job.

VERN STEFANIC: OK. OK. Well, and your interest in the areas of things that you were gravitating towards-- I guess even then sea level was a big part of what you were doing. In your talk, you make reference to AAPG Memoir 26. And that would have been Pete Vale and--

ASHLEY HARRIS: Pete Vale, Bob Mitchum, yeah.

VERN STEFANIC: Bob Mitchum and Pete Vale coming up with their ideas, was that a big part of your education, your past?

ASHLEY HARRIS: Oh, definitely. That was most definitely a large part of my education, especially when I got to grad school and was trying to delineate what are the eustatic changes, in particular, for the Paleocene. And so, of course, I compared my work to their work. That was definitely part of the process.

But learning what they were trying to achieve in that, I think there's a lot of discussion about that work with respect to the academic part, and used to see, and that sort of thing. But what they were trying to do was come up with a way to explain why the stratigraphic record looked the way it did.

VERN STEFANIC: And it was pretty mindblowing when it came out, right?

ASHLEY HARRIS: Oh, yeah, no doubt about it. I think you can get a roomful of stratigraphers in here, and we can go on and on about that body of work. It was definitely a landmark work, but it was also pretty controversial in certain places, especially in certain parts of academia.

VERN STEFANIC: Can you talk a little bit about that controversy? Because for you and for all those stratigraphers who would come into the room, it would be second nature. For some of the general public, it may be something that's vitally important to them, but they may not understand what it is that we're talking about. Can you talk a little bit about some of that?

ASHLEY HARRIS: I think part of it, a lot of the controversy I think first and foremost is whether or not we can actually measure global sea level changes. How well can we resolve that? I think that's one of the major challenges. Exxon, et al, and those groups did identify sequences or unconformities across the world that seemed to correlate.

But there are a number of controversies about the availability of that data, although some of the data that was used to construct some of those concepts did come out later. But what things they didn't take into account, things like compaction, and tectonism, how well did they account for those things. Another consideration was the time resolution, how well was the time represented in that. So there are a number of things.

VERN STEFANIC: So the whole adding the fourth dimension, you're talking about.

ASHLEY HARRIS: So the fourth dimension is another thing, which I talk about, is how well does any one location really represent the entire body of sediment that's being deposited. So that's an area that I think is a part of ongoing research.

VERN STEFANIC: OK. OK, well, tell you what. Let's talk a little bit about the research that's going on. And we'll talk a little bit about your paper too, although your lecture-- I'm hoping that everybody is going to actually watch the lecture so they can see what's going on. But to get us to the point, your lecture, I'm going to guess, comes out of a lot of the research that you have been working on. And I'm guessing that it hasn't been research that was just in the past couple of months. This has been an ongoing project for you, right?

ASHLEY HARRIS: Yeah, definitely. So in some ways, there are some roots going back to grad school because that's where I was involved in studying sea level. But obviously, the energy industry has been really focused on sea level changes as it relates to the stratigraphic record, so where are your [? source ?] and sea rocks and that sort of thing. So this has been baking for a while.

And, of course, I've been involved in exploration research, so mostly focus on reservoir prediction. So where are the reservoirs? How much sand is there? And this is one of those outcomes from those types of studies.

VERN STEFANIC: For some of the people who are not necessarily geologists, where the sand is coming and where the sand is being deposited, that's a sign that we may have some energy there to be found. Is that correct?

ASHLEY HARRIS: Yeah, so there's multiple parts to what makes a hydrocarbon system. Mostly what I'm talking about is the reservoir part, the sand part. But obviously, there are other things around, tectonism, the seal, whether hydrocarbons generated and migrated into the reservoir. So I'm only looking at one of many aspects, which is why there are teams of people that are focused on each one of those different aspects.

VERN STEFANIC: Speaking of teams, you are the team lead, which you were not always team lead. You've gotten to that position.

ASHLEY HARRIS: Yes.

VERN STEFANIC: What has that journey been like? And how has that changed your life, by the way?

ASHLEY HARRIS: Yeah, so I recently came into that role. And it's been a huge change. I think you go from being an individual contributor. You're the one, as I call it, pressing the button. I'm the one that's doing all the technical work. I am directly involved. I am hands on.

And I think the biggest change is that now you have to work with people and work through people to accomplish goals. So I will not be the one always hands on in that. And so that's a different-- that's a new challenge. And so far, I'm with a great group of people. They've been very easy on me. They've made it a pretty easy transition, but obviously, some more work to do there.

VERN STEFANIC: When do you find the time to do your own personal research? Because you're still-- I remember-- so I was a writer for a long time. And then I got made an editor. But that didn't stop my desire to write. And I still wanted to find time to do that.

ASHLEY HARRIS: Did you still write?

VERN STEFANIC: Yeah. Yeah, yeah. But it was on my own time after hours. And I would stick around up late at night trying to write my own personal things because during the day I was concerned with editing other people's writing. As a researcher, I'm going to guess that you are really wired into what your team is doing. And yet since you were in high school, practically, you've had this urge, this desire, to research and understand and to answer questions and all. How do you make that work?

ASHLEY HARRIS: Yeah, I actually still have to do some of my own research, even as the team leader. That's one of the expectations. In fact, we're called a technical team leader. So that's still one of the expectations. It is nowhere near to the scale that it was before I was doing this work. But I do still find time to do it. And even a little bit of the writing and presentation stuff is obviously done off hours.

But I enjoy doing that. I think that's something that's always going to be there for me. And so these days, like I said, it's mostly focused on making sure the overall team delivers what's needed for the business. And so that's most of the focus and just a little bit of time for myself. And I still do some of that work, for sure, but not as much.

VERN STEFANIC: I got it. No, I got it. I got it. When you get together as a team-- I'm going to assume some things. You tell me that I'm wrong, because I've never been part of a research team. Do you as a team get together periodically to say this is what we need to tackle, or does the company come to you and say, here's something that we need to have figured out? Go get 'em.

ASHLEY HARRIS: Yeah. It goes both ways in those regards. We work-- so I'm part of the technology company, which is a service company. And we service many of the business units. And by interacting with the business units and providing products for them, they tell us what they need. But in that process, we also identify things that could help the job be a little bit smoother. And so it definitely goes both ways.

VERN STEFANIC: OK, so there are practical applications that are expected to come out of what might be considered an academic approach to research. Is that correct?

ASHLEY HARRIS: Yeah, definitely. In fact, we definitely do work with academics on many of these problems. But what comes out of that research has to be applied. So at some point, you have to apply it. You have to demonstrate its value. So that's definitely a large part of the job.

VERN STEFANIC: So can you comment at this point? Let's go back. And I'm going to have to read this-- I'm sorry again-- to the title of your talk, which is re-evaluating relationship between relative sea level and sediment distribution. And then we get into that using the numeric stratigraphic forward models-- numerical. I'm sorry, stratigraphic numerical... So in doing that research, was there something that was going on that made you think I need to challenge the accepted thought on this?

ASHLEY HARRIS: Yeah, the motivation was to better understand, not necessary challenge, but test. At its very core, science, you're supposed to produce testable hypotheses. And one of the things available to us are these numerical models. And the benefit of the numerical models is that they integrate a bunch of processes, quite frankly. And so that's a great playground or area to really test ideas and see if how we view the world or how the world behaves is reasonable.

And the benefit of the numerical models is that they are rooted in our best understanding of sediment routing, deposition, the interaction between sea level, tectonism, and many other processes like channel migration, evulsion, slope failure. So all of that is housed within those numerical models. And we can see how systems may respond to different forcings.

When I say forcing, I mean something like sea level, or sediment supply change, or tectonic change. And at a base in scale, understanding those interactions are critical, especially in exploration settings where you're trying to quantify, say the volume of sediment that goes into a basin, or where it may be located within a given basin.

VERN STEFANIC: Have there already been surprises to you in some of your findings?

ASHLEY HARRIS: Yeah, definitely. We had quite a few surprises. And, in fact, it called into question, like wait. Is this right? For example, we found that peaks in deep water sand delivery correspond to the fall, the minima, and the rise in sea level, which is a little bit different than the conceptual model. And, in fact, I think that it does support that conceptual model, but expands it a little bit more.

And so those kind of things were unexpected and caused us to really dig in and think about what's happening within the model. And, of course, we try to cross validate those models against either field studies, or physical tank experiments.

VERN STEFANIC: OK.

ASHLEY HARRIS: Yeah.

VERN STEFANIC: OK, so are there specific locations that you're looking at, or is this just theoretical anywhere on Earth?

ASHLEY HARRIS: The application is really anywhere because we've set up something that I would consider a generic margin, for example, a generic passive margin. So I think it's applicable anywhere because the processes occur everywhere, right? All the processes of evulsion, sea level change, compaction, digenesis, slope failure, waves, currents, it happens everywhere. And so what's important is understanding those interactions.

Now granted, there may be areas that are more unique or have unique situations. And I'm not sure or all of the concepts can be applied immediately everywhere. But we do find some common themes.

VERN STEFANIC: OK. And I don't want to put the cart ahead of the horse. But it seems like you must be moving toward-- there are going to be practical applications over some of what your findings are going to be.

ASHLEY HARRIS: Yeah. For example, in my talk I talk about how we apply non-eustatic variation model and eustatic variation model. And we look at the total volume of sand that's delivered to deepwater. And we find that there's very little difference. So what does that mean for an exploration? Well, focus on the volume of sediment that's actually getting delivered to that basin.

Of course, there's going to be some challenges with respect to where that sand ends up in the basin. But at least in our very simple model case, we find that there are minimal differences. But that's at a large scale, both spatial and temporal. Definitely, there is some influence from sea level on shorter time scales.

Also, to have no sea level changes over long time scales, that's unreasonable. That's definitely not happening. But one of the things we highlight is that things are not as simple as you think they are. That's our take on it. But effectively, when it comes to things like the volume, or even maybe the magnitude of a deepwater sand delivery event, there are multiple processes that can give you a similar result.

So that's actually not a bad thing. It's just a cautionary note when we describe the rock record or interpret the rock record. Because it means there could be multiple controls that give you a similar result.

VERN STEFANIC: Where are you in the research? What I mean by that is, have you like come to a place where you feel confident that you've gone about as far as you can go, and you're getting ready tackle something else, or have you gotten to the point where you realize, oh, my gosh, we've just touched the surface on what's about to happen?

ASHLEY HARRIS: Yeah. I think for this particular project, I'm closing up. I'm near the end. What we've done is done a series of publications and presentations. And I think it's important that we present that view to the geologic community and let them to continue to investigate it and really interrogate it.

I was fortunate enough to test some long held ideas. And it's possible someone will test mine. But I think it's a great opportunity for the rest of the community to maybe pick it up and think about it a little bit more, and maybe in ways that I didn't think about it. Yeah, and that's why I'm thankful for Chevron for allowing us to publish it, because it's a contribution to science. And we'll see where it goes.

VERN STEFANIC: Will your team stay together on the next project, or do you resemble and have a completely new team?

ASHLEY HARRIS: No, no, no. This is the same team. Actually, that was work I did before I became a team leader. So and those group of people are still around. But yeah, this will become less of a focus, mostly because that's thinking about things at a large scale. These days I'm much more focused on a much smaller spatial scale.

VERN STEFANIC: Last question-- and there's actually-- and I know we've been we've been setting up the details of your distinguished lecture. So I really hope people take the opportunity to go to the website and just watch you in action in talking about this, because I think it is provocative. I think it is something that is intriguing to everybody to really consider and consider the practical applications of everything that's going on.

Last question though that I want to ask you about is, so if that roomful of stratigraphers would gather at this moment, how do you think they would respond to the research that you've done?

ASHLEY HARRIS: Yeah, I've gotten some actually very positive responses, even from some of our competitors. It's actually been-- I've had an interesting exchange between myself and some of those folks. So far, it's been positive. I've gotten some negative responses too. But that's to be expected from science, right? The idea is that everything, as I previously mentioned, has to be testable.

And so I've put something out there to be tested. And let's see if it stands the test of time. And the reality is that many of these concepts really only required some modification or refinement. But, like I said, I've put something out there. And let's see. I'm sure if you've got some other stratigraphers, they would have a different point of view.

But in some ways, I'm not completely disagreeing with some of those concepts. I just think that they need to expand just a little bit. That's what me and my co-authors, at least, think.

VERN STEFANIC: Love it. Love it. All the more reason for people to tune into your distinguished lecture. I can't wait for that to go out and go around the world and give people the opportunity to be part of it. OK, so I can't end without saying-- so this has to be a totally engagement of your time. But you're a real person, right? What do you do when you're not doing research? Who are you?

ASHLEY HARRIS: Oh, who am I? I love cars. I really like cars. I like really anything, all things mechanical. But I often go to Coffee and Cars. It's a gathering of cars from all over Houston. People bring everything from Corvettes and different American muscle to different Italian, exotics. It's pretty nice. It's a great opportunity to get very close to things that would be a poster on your wall. And actually, some of those things were a poster on my wall as a kid.

But also, I've seen some pretty amazing cars. I saw an early 1900s Cadillac. I mean, that thing was incredible. And I wish I took a picture of it. But it looked like one of those horse/buggy type of things, but had a motor. So that was incredible. You get to see drag cars and all types of things, even some extremely lifted trucks and massive tires.

And you just see people with a passion for vehicles. And they go to an extent I personally probably wouldn't. But it's nice to see that kind of stuff. It's nice to see the level of engineering that goes into these things that we use to get the work and go to the grocery store.

VERN STEFANIC: Yeah, It's great. OK, I won't say what's been the coolest car you've ever had, but maybe it's just what your favorite car that you've ever had.

ASHLEY HARRIS: Oh goodness, I don't know if I've had my favorite car yet. That's what I'm going to say for now. Coming out of grad school, and I'm raising three kids right now, it's a little bit challenging to get the car of my dreams or my favorite car. But right now, I'm driving a Subaru WRX. And that fits the bill right now. Also, I have other hobbies I'm interested in as well. So it does take a little bit of my money.

VERN STEFANIC: OK, I said this would be no more questions. But I'm always intrigued by what inspires people. So I believe if I'm writing one thing, whatever that would be-- let's say I'm writing a play-- why would I do that? But let's say I'm doing that. I would be-- there's something that's complementary that I'm reading or listening to. And once I wrote a musical.

And while I was writing one, I was listening in detail and analyzing another one completely because there was some sort of connection that kept me going through all this. Where do you get your inspiration? Where does that come from?

ASHLEY HARRIS: Inspiration-- I'm around some really creative and smart people and I've been fortunate to be around them. And just by interacting with them, you get to bounce ideas. Really challenge ideas. test your ideas. And that's been great. I recommend always get around people who are either more creative than you, smarter than you. They have a certain gravity. And I think they'll pull you along. And they'll help you better execute your ideas, but also inspire you.

Inspiration comes from lots of places, even my kids. My middle one, my daughter wants to be a geologist. And so she's always picking up rocks, some of them for which I don't know what they are. And from them, I get a little bit of inspiration. Kids ask some amazing questions. They actually can put you in a tough spot. And then you realize you don't know as much as you think.

So often I actually have them take a look at some PowerPoint I'm building for AAPG or something like that. And they always chime in. I've put them in some of the acknowledgements of my papers.

VERN STEFANIC: Cool. Well, cool dad, cool everything. And thank you for that. Thank you for taking the time to be here and to share with us. We got to know you a little bit more. I cannot wait to see the rest of your lecture, which, once again, I'll remind everybody will be available on our website for either downloading or streaming services. So thank you.


We've been talking today to Ashley Harris, Team Leader for the Clastic Stratigraphy Team at Chevron Energy Technology Company in Houston. Be sure to check out his lecture at AAPG.org. I'm telling you, it's a good one. And watch this space for more AAPG podcasts that will cover a variety of important subjects, innovative ideas, and intriguing people, including our ongoing Digging Deeper look at this year's distinguished lecturers.

The Distinguished Lecture Program is a jointly operated program by AAPG and the AAPG Foundation. We hope you'll take a moment soon to check out the AAPG Foundation website to learn about how you can be part of ensuring the future of geo sciences. And for now, thanks for listening.

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