A Word from the Board
April 2024

By: Patrick Corwin, 2nd Vice President

We’re in the midst of the busiest Spring for the GSH in recent history! I enjoyed seeing many of you at the Spring Symposium last week honoring Mike Forrest. We had an excellent lineup of talks covering topics like elastic FWI, CSEM, the importance of 2D seismic for frontier exploration, and much more. We also had a great lineup of exhibitors and a lively student challenge bowl.

Student and young professional involvement has been one of the most important topics during my time on the GSH board and while representing the GSH on the SEG Council. On the student side, our outreach efforts start at any early stage, targeting elementary school students at math and science nights. The GSH gives away hundreds of slinkies each year while teaching students about wave propagation and the basic physics behind seismic technology. At the middle and high school level, we participate in the Science and Engineering Fair of Houston, providing judges and sponsoring a special award section for projects related to geophysical science. We also sponsor an internship at the Houston Museum of Natural Science for one deserving high school student. This year, the winner of the scholarship designed a device similar to a geophone that converts sound waves to electrical energy. 

For college students, the GSH has provided funds for two endowed scholarships administered by the SEG Foundation, the Carlton-Farren and Hugh Hardy Scholarships. These scholarships provide support to college students from the Houston area pursuing a degree in geophysics. We also host and sponsor the Gulf Coast Regional Challenge Bowl, which brings teams from universities in Texas and Oklahoma to Houston to compete for a $1500 prize and the opportunity to advance to the International Challenge Bowl Finals at the IMAGE conference. We also sponsored a group of students to attend the Spring Symposium at no cost this year and student membership in the society is free. 

The board of the GSH has recently implemented changes to the membership requirements in the bylaws to encourage early career participation. Previously, our active membership qualifications were closely derived from those of the SEG, which are significantly higher than other professional societies in the industry, such as AAPG, SPE or SPWLA. The requirements were rather confusing and required 3+ years of time spent “not solely as a student” for those with geoscience degrees and 8 years for those without geoscience degrees. A discussion about active membership eligibility turned into a conversation about whether our membership requirements could be clarified and updated. 

We have generally had significant interest in the society from young professionals coming out of grad school. While these professionals were eligible for associate membership, they were not eligible for active membership and the right to vote or hold office. In many cases, these professionals had 6-10 years of geophysical study and research, including internships, teaching, and research assistantships, which was not considered as work experience due to the language requiring 3 years of time while not solely a student. The board wanted to encourage young professionals to get involved in the society from an early stage and not lose these promising geoscience professionals to other societies with lower active member requirements that would allow full participation and the right to hold office right away. However, the board also acknowledged that transitioning from student to young professional can be challenging with new time commitments and often significant time devoted to training. To balance this, the board approved new bylaws, modifying the active member requirements to require those with a geoscience or related degree from an accredited university to have one year of professional experience or 6 years of professional experience for those without a geoscience degree. This simplifies the member requirements and allows young professionals to become active members in the society two years earlier on average, but still requires some professional experience and is a higher membership requirement than most of the other local professional societies in the industry. 

We’re already seeing the benefits of these membership requirement changes as we have members moving from associate to active membership who will be eligible to vote for board candidates for the first time in the weeks ahead. We even have a candidate on the ballot who was recently upgraded to active membership due to the changes passed. 

The SEG has also identified students and young professionals as a significant area of focus. The SEG Evolve program, which provides mentorship and virtual internship experience working on exploration prospects, has grown exponentially since its inception in 2017. More than 600 students each year participate in Evolve, working on real seismic exploration datasets with the help of experienced industry mentors, like our GSH Spring Symposium honoree, Mike Forrest. The SEG Council has also started a special committee to focus on enhancing student and early career involvement with input from your GSH council representatives.

While we’re proud of the work the GSH has done so far on student and early career outreach, we hope to continue to boost our program focused on the next generation in the upcoming year. Our goal is to continue to improve the finances of the society so that the society is sustainable and additional budget can be made available to invest in outreach and scholarships. 

One of the biggest ways we raise funds for outreach and scholarships is through our social events such as the Saltwater Fishing Tournament, Golf Tournament and Sporting Clays Tournament. If you’ve participated in these events in the past, thank you for supporting the society! If you’d like to join me in supporting the societies mission of promoting the science and profession of geophysics, please consider joining us at the Golf Tournament on April 1st, the Sporting Clays Tournament on April 13th, and the Annual Meeting and Banquet on May 9th. Thank you for your support of the society, I hope to see you at an upcoming event soon! 

Patrick Corwin
GSH 2nd VP