Kansas Geological Survey honors outstanding students

Tuesday, July 02, 2019

LAWRENCE — Three University of Kansas students received outstanding achievement awards in May from the Kansas Geological Survey (KGS), based in KU’s West District.

Sarah Morton Rupert, a doctoral candidate in civil engineering and master’s candidate in geology from Oxford, Connecticut, received the Lee C. and Darcy Gerhard Field Research Student Award. A graduate research assistant in the KGS Exploration Services section, Rupert uses noninvasive seismic techniques in central Kansas to monitor and analyze changes in stress conditions of rocks and soil overlying voids created in underground salt layers for natural gas and propane storage. Her results can be used to identify and mitigate potential sinkholes. She also collected and analyzed data in the southern Arizona desert as part of tunnel detection research sponsored by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and assisted with a project to identify faults at a site near Los Angeles. The Gerhard award is named for the KGS director from 1987 to 1999 and his wife.

Atefeh Hosseini, doctoral candidate in computational hydrology in the School of Engineering, Lawrence, received the Jack Dangermond/Esri Geospatial Technologies Student Award. A member of the KGS Cartographic Services unit, Hosseini participates in a variety of geographic information systems (GIS) and mapping projects. To enhance the appearance of KGS geologic maps, she developed a way to use high-resolution lidar data, acquired remotely using pulses of laser light, and GIS methods to more accurately integrate data used to create the maps but derived from different sources. She also played a major role in updating the KGS oil and gas map series. Dangermond, president of the Environmental Systems Research Institute Inc., established the award to recognize student accomplishments in the application of geospatial technologies.

Ashley Underwood, a May 2019 KU graduate with a bachelor’s degree in geology and a concentration in engineering from Harrisonville, Missouri, received the Norman Plummer Outstanding Student Award. A data entry and clerical assistant in the KGS Data Resources Library, Underwood processed, scanned and posted thousands of oil and gas records and images to the KGS website. She also answered public inquiries, helped maintain the state’s water-well database and assisted with core analysis reports. The Data Resources Library houses records for more than 450,000 oil and gas wells and 250,000 water wells. The KGS Drill Core Library is the repository for rock cores and samples from more than 5,000 bore holes drilled in Kansas for oil and gas exploration or geologic investigations. Plummer was a KGS staff member from 1936 to 1969.

The Kansas Geological Survey studies and provides information on the state's geologic resources and hazards, including groundwater, oil and natural gas, rocks and minerals, and earthquakes. It employs approximately 35 students. The recipients were presented cash awards and certificates.

Photo, from left: Sarah Morton Rupert, KGS Director Rolfe Mandel, Ashley Underwood and Atefeh Hosseini.