Willimantic, Conn. – Two Environmental Earth Science (EES) students from Eastern Connecticut State University have won the Bighorn Basin Field Award, and will study the geology and petroleum industry of north-central Wyoming from Aug. 4–10. The award, sponsored by the Geological Society of America (GSA) and ExxonMobil, is a national competition that grants only 20 awards annually.
More than 140 graduate and undergraduate students from across the country applied for the Bighorn Basin Field Award, and Laura Markley ’15 of Preston and Sean Kellarson ’14 of Stafford Springs are two of the award recipients. “Sean and Laura are two of our most successful EES students,” said Peter Drzewiecki, chair of the EES Department. “We are very pleased that two students from our department have been awarded this opportunity.”
“EES at Eastern has provided me with the knowledge and tools needed to seek out and apply for such a unique opportunity as the Bighorn Basin Award,” said Markley. “I am excited to learn more about the petroleum industry and to explore the geology of Wyoming.”
Wyoming’s Bighorn Basin is a unique geological region with a prolific hydrocarbon basin. The program will focus on integrated basin analysis and enable awardees to study individual hydrocarbon systems. The field study, which will cover all expenses for awardees, will be taught by four ExxonMobil professionals with more than 100 combined years of research in integrated basin analysis.
“This is a great opportunity for Laura and Sean to learn more about the geological aspects of the petroleum industry, to work with well-respected professionals in the industry and to learn about the geology of Wyoming,” said Drzewiecki.
Kellarson spoke of the connections afforded by Eastern’s EES program. “I knew of this opportunity because of my professors and the course I took at the GSA’s 2014 annual meeting,” he said. “Among the application requirements were two letters of recommendation, which came from my professors. I believe my experiences with EES and their recommendations made me stand out as a qualified candidate.”
Markley and Kellarson are two of only 15 undergraduate students selected this year, and Eastern is the only university to have two awardees. “It is unique in recent years for two students from the same university to earn this competitive award,” said Drzewiecki. “All of the schools represented this year are either large state schools with big geology departments or small private schools. Eastern stands alone as a small public university.” Eastern is in the company of Bowdoin College, Lehigh University, Clemson University, Colby College and Bucknell University, among other reputable schools.