News & Updates

Allegheny Receives Valuable Software Donation from Oilfield Technology Company

Allegheny College’s geology students will benefit from two in-kind donations of software totaling $9.4 million from oilfield services company Schlumberger, a worldwide provider of technology for reservoir characterization, drilling, production, and processing to the oil and gas industry.

The company has agreed to grant a request from Assistant Professor of Geology Kathryn Tamulonis to enable access to its Petrel E&P* software platform and a request from Visiting Assistant Professor Matt Carter for the Techlog* wellbore software platform. The Petrel and Techlog platforms enable geologic subsurface interpretation and modeling and are used extensively by the oil and gas industry.

“I will use the Petrel software platform as a teaching and research tool,” Tamulonis said. “Petrel will be used in undergraduate geology classes, including sedimentology, stratigraphy and field geology, and also in topical seminars when I introduce subsurface data-collection techniques, sedimentary rock correlation, and the application of resource-evaluation techniques.

“Petrel will provide a foundation for my research program, which is focused on understanding how unconventional shale resources change throughout portions of the Appalachian basin,” Tamulonis said. “My students and I will use this software to map subsurface variations of unconventional shale formations. Then, we will use Petrel to visualize the variations in three dimensions and statistically predict geologic trends in areas with little or no data.”

“I intend to use the Techlog software platform for its borehole image interpretation capabilities to enable hands-on examples in the classroom and group projects as well as for my personal research,” said Carter.

Going thousands of feet underground, the surrounding temperature and pressure is too great for a camera, so oilfield service companies run special tools that provide electronic borehole images, Carter explained. These images form a “pinprick” into the Earth to provide the best “outcrop view” researchers have of the subsurface, he said.

“As a geologist, observations are key in better understanding the evolution of natural systems, and these images will help us to glean a lot of data,” Carter said. “I envision future projects may involve investigating fracture patterns in both oil and gas and geothermal reservoirs to better understand modern and past stress regimes and the current fluids-flow pathways.
Projects may also focus on the evolution of mountain uplift and contemporaneous sediment deposition that may improve our understanding of plate tectonic uplift and/or changes in Earth’s climate. With this software, students have the capability of studying datasets from all over the world.”

By providing students with this hands-on software experience, Allegheny is taking another step in helping its future job candidates to blend their geology expertise with the latest technology.

About Allegheny College
One of the nation’s oldest liberal arts colleges, Allegheny College celebrated its bicentennial in 2015. A selective residential college in Meadville, Pennsylvania, Allegheny is one of 40 colleges featured in Loren Pope’s Colleges That Change Lives. Allegheny College is known nationally as a place where students with unusual combinations of interests, skills and talents excel. In its 2019 rankings, U.S. News & World Report recognized Allegheny among the top 30 most innovative national liberal arts colleges in the country.

*Mark of Schlumberger

Source: Academics, Publications & Research

National Expert on Water-Use Policy to Speak at Allegheny

Robert Glennon, one of the nation’s foremost scholars on water policy and law, will deliver a free public address titled “Our Thirst for Energy in a Warming, Water-Stressed World” at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 16, in Allegheny College’s Ford Chapel.

During his visit, Glennon also will receive the inaugural Ewalt Environmental Prize from the college for his research exploring solutions to worsening water shortages, especially in the western United States. He will meet with Allegheny students during a lunchtime program on Wednesday, Oct. 17.

Robert Glennon is the Morris K. Udall Professor of Law and Policy at the James E. Rogers College of Law at the University of Arizona.

The Ewalt Prize was established through the support of Henry “Bing” Ewalt, a 1962 Allegheny graduate, and his wife, Mary. The prize brings professionals to campus to teach about their expertise in environmental issues, especially those relating to freshwater supplies. “Professor Glennon is an ideal selection as our first lecturer,” Bing Ewalt said. “The combination of his disciplines and extensive experience have provided him with both a theoretical and practical perspective concerning this salient issue in our time of climate change.”

“Professor Glennon understands the challenges our country faces with respect to water policy and what we can do to build a sustainable water future,” said Professor Rachel O’Brien, Geology Department chair at Allegheny. “I have used his book in my first-year seminar (Freshwater Around the World) since it was published. The students learn from his technical knowledge as well as his writing style.”

Glennon is a Regents Professor and the Morris K. Udall Professor of Law and Policy at the James E. Rogers College of Law at the University of Arizona. He received his law degree from Boston College Law School and his doctorate from Brandeis University. He is the recipient of two National Science Foundation grants and serves as an advisor to governments, corporations, non-governmental organizations, and law firms looking to solve serious challenges around water-use sustainability. Glennon is also the author of “Unquenchable: America’s Water Crisis and What to Do About It,” which in 2010 received the Rachel Carson Book Award for reporting on the environment from the Society of Environmental Journalists.

The Ewalt fund has provided three copies of “Unquenchable: America’s Water Crisis and What to Do About It” for circulation at the Meadville Public Library. Interested community members are invited to read the book prior to his visit.

Bing Ewalt is a retired lawyer who earned his law degree at the University of Michigan. He also is a decorated U.S. Army veteran, having been awarded the Purple Heart and Bronze Star. Mary is a retired teacher and business manager. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Rice University and her master’s degree from Northwestern University.

Source: Academics, Publications & Research

Allegheny to Host Public Lecture Series on Energy and Society

Allegheny College will host a series of three public lectures this fall focused on U.S. energy from a variety of perspectives, including energy policy, the relationship between freshwater and energy resources, and environmental injustices associated with energy production and distribution.

Jeffrey Ball, scholar, journalist, and author on energy and the environment, will speak in the Tippie Alumni Center.

The first lecture, scheduled for 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 25, at the Tippie Alumni Center, features Woodrow Wilson Visiting Fellow Jeffrey Ball. Ball is an internationally renowned scholar, journalist, and author on energy and the environment. His work has appeared in Foreign Affairs, The New York Times, Fortune, and The New Republic, among many other outlets.

Ball is scholar-in-residence at Stanford University’s Steyer-Taylor Center for Energy Policy and Finance and a lecturer at Stanford Law School. Prior to his post at Stanford, Ball was The Wall Street Journal’s environment editor. The title of Ball’s talk is “Sharp Fights and Hard Lessons in the Global Race for Cleaner Energy.”

In October, Dr. Robert Glennon, one of the nation’s thought leaders and commentators on the fresh-water supply, will deliver a talk on the intersection of water and energy. His address, “Our Thirst for Energy in a Warming, Water-Stressed World,” is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 16, in Allegheny’s Ford Memorial Chapel.

Finally, Dr. Julie Sze, professor of American studies at the University of California-Davis, will give a community address on Tuesday, Nov. 27, at 7 p.m. in the Tippie Alumni Center. Sze is the founding director of the Environmental Justice Project for UC-Davis’ John Muir Institute for the Environment. Sze’s research explores environmental justice and environmental inequality, and urban/community health and activism, among other themes.

The lecture series is funded in part through a grant from The Endeavor Foundation and the Allegheny College Environmental Prize Fund endowed by Bing and Mary Ewalt. Visits from these scholars are a key part of a course on The Future of Energy Policy, hosted by Allegheny’s Law & Policy program.

All three lectures are free and open to the public. Recent books published by Drs. Glennon (Unquenchable: America’s Water Crisis and What To Do About It) and Sze (Noxious New York) are available for circulation at the Meadville Public Library. Please contact Center for Political Participation Program Coordinator Shannon McConnell at (814) 332-6202 for more information or questions about this series.

Source: Academics, Publications & Research

Geology Professor Receives Grant to Help Students Explore Shale Formations

An Allegheny College geology professor has received a $55,000 grant from the Petroleum Research Fund of the American Chemical Society (ACS) to conduct research along with students of shale formations in the Appalachian Basin over the next two years.

Kathryn Tamulonis, assistant professor of geology, received the funding for her research project, “Relationship Between Rome Trough Reactivation and the Distal Stratigraphy and Reservoir Quality of the Devonian Marcellus and Burket Formations of the Appalachian Basin.”

The two-year grant will support two undergraduate students each summer to conduct research with Tamulonis as well as pay for supplies, conferences and student and faculty field work.

“Students will learn how to gather and integrate geologic subsurface data into well-log analysis software; interpret various types of geologic subsurface data including well logs, well core and well cuttings; compare subsurface data to outcrop data; build geologic models throughout the study area, and cultivate high-level technical skills such as geocellular modeling. By working on this project, students will develop a broad geology network that spans research universities, state government, and private industry,” said Tamulonis.

The students then will be required to report their findings in a variety of forums, including professional conferences, she said. “I hope to have a significant impact on students’ research projects and expose them to new skill sets within geology,” Tamulonis said.

According to Dr. Dean Dunn, Petroleum Research Fund (PRF) Program Administrator, “Dr. Tamulonis’ proposal for student field study of the deposition of the Marcellus Shale formation is exactly the kind of fundamental research supported by the American Chemical Society PRF. Students obtain invaluable educational experiences by doing geological field work and follow-up laboratory analyses, and ACS PRF ‘seed money’ support enables the professor to initiate a new research direction in petroleum science.”

The Petroleum Research Fund endowment is administered by the American Chemical Society. ACS PRF has supported “advanced scientific education and fundamental research in the petroleum field” for more than 60 years.

Allegheny is in the top 2 percent of bachelor degree-granting schools whose graduates continue on to earn Ph.D.s in physical science, and the college has a strong reputation for producing successful scientists. Allegheny received the Council on Undergraduate Research’s Award for Undergraduate Research Accomplishment in 2016.

Source: Academics, Publications & Research

Allegheny Senior Awarded Grant for Environmental Research

Allegheny College senior Alexandrea Rice has been awarded a Davey Foundation Annual Arbor Grant for her work in eco-friendly research. Rice is an environmental science major, with a focus in forest and soil science, and a geology minor.

“The award is a testament to Alex’s work as an undergraduate in (Professor) Rich Bowden’s lab on a green-industry approach to forestry and arboriculture,” says Scott Wissinger, chair of Allegheny’s Environmental Science Department.

The Davey Tree Expert Co. provides the grants yearly to about 50 college-enrolled students who focus on forestry, agriculture or another green industry. Over the past 25 years, the Davey Foundation has provided more than $500,000 of support to students for their academic work.

Rice says the $1,000 grant has allowed her to be more focused on her studies without having to take time away for a job. She is currently developing her senior comprehensive project, which investigates how acid rain affects soil’s ability to retain important forest nutrients. Bowden, her advisor, says Rice has been highly independent, praising how she “has been industrious in gathering her field soil samples and performing soil extractions.”

Rice has participated in projects outside of Allegheny as well, such as spending a semester at the Ecosystems Center in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, and working as a research assistant in Alaska in the summer of 2016. She also has worked on an independent research project looking into changes in fungal communities in response to nitrogen deposition, both at the Harvard Forest and Allegheny’s Bousson Experimental Forest.

“She is passionate about forest ecosystems and has always been among the first to volunteer for fieldwork related to our climate-change studies,” Bowden says. “She brings an inquisitive personality blended with a delightful confidence, sincere humility and spunk.”

After graduation, Rice plans to attend graduate school. But she hopes first to spend the summer of 2017 conducting climate-change research on the effects of permafrost thaw on ecosystem nutrient cycling.

“Out of all the good that a person can do, I think the most a person can contribute is to the knowledge and understanding of the planet so that we can enact ways of prolonging its life,” says Rice, a Pittsburgh resident. “I am in this industry and science not just because I enjoy being outside in the forest, but because I want to educate the world about the importance and critical role that forests play in our lives. By protecting them we are providing a future for our children to grow from.”

Source: Academics, Publications & Research

Student Sings to Help Save Lives

Brett Trottier ’19 has been playing his guitar and singing in the lobby of the Allegheny College Campus Center since he returned from Thanksgiving break. The most recent evidence: groups of students taken to occasionally filming, mostly staring, and enthusiastically applauding.

Trottier is a member of the Philanthropic Committee of the Delta Tau Delta fraternity, presided over by Mark Abrams ’18, which has set its sights on prostate cancer research. In a project spearheaded by Trottier, Abrams, Alex Bakus ’17, and Milton Guevara ’18, a GoFundMe web page was created. It also includes a promotional video championed by Michael Ross ’18.

The campaign has raised more than $1,000 so far.

As an added incentive to get community members to donate, members of the fraternity have pledged to shave their heads. Several fund thresholds have been established, starting at $1,000 and going up to $3,000, and with each one met, a greater number of Deltas have pledged to assume the bald-is-beautiful look. “I’m so excited. I’ve never done it, but I’ll probably look like an alien,” says Trottier, who is a geology major and political science minor.

A second incentive to donate: Trottier’s voice echoing pleasantly up and down the three floors of the Henderson Campus Center. Belting out tunes such as “Sittin’ on the Dock of the Bay,” “Stand by Me,” and “Folsom Prison Blues,” Trottier plays for an hour during the lunch rush at McKinley’s dining hall. Ross also joins him for some performances. This portion of the fundraiser has raised more than $120 in the past week.

Other philanthropic events organized throughout the year included a “Grilled Cheese Soiree” and a “French Toast Dinner.” The deadline for contributions is December 6, so think about sharing the holiday spirit and helping out Trottier and the Deltas here.

Photo of Brett Trottier by Joseph Merante ’20

Source: Academics, Publications & Research

Geology Department represents Allegheny at National Geological Society of America meeting

The Allegheny Geology Department was well represented at the September 2016 National Geological Society of America meeting in Denver, Colo.

Assistant Professor Theresa Schwartz gave an invited talk about her ongoing work regarding the paleoclimate and paleotopography of the northern Rocky Mountains. She also co-presented a poster with colleagues regarding the evolution of coastal California during Eocene time. Visiting Professor Matt Carter gave a talk entitled “Borehole image logs: A powerful tool for improved subsurface geological interpretation”. Provost and Professor of Geology Ron Cole gave an invited talk on magmatism and mountain building cycles in south-central Alaska; he was a co-author on two additional presentations. Marie Takach ’15 presented a poster on her senior project on geochemical constraints on temporal trends in magma composition along the Alaska peninsula. Takach was a co-author on three additional presentations, including Cole’s invited talk.

Source: Academics, Publications & Research

Rock-Solid Education Leads to Prestigious Fellowship

Since spending time in Allegheny’s geology department, Douglas Barber ’13 knew he someday wanted to pursue a Ph.D.

In March, Barber learned he would receive some extra support to help him achieve that dream.

Barber, who is studying geology at the University of Texas at Austin, received a prestigious Graduate Research Fellowship from the National Science Foundation (NSF). He was one of 2,000 individuals chosen for the Foundation’s Graduate Research Fellowship Program from among 16,500 applicants in 2015.

According to Allegheny Assistant Professor of Geology Theresa Schwartz ’10, who also is a past NSF Graduate Research Fellowship recipient, the award gives beginning graduate students many degrees of freedom that they may not otherwise have.

“In the sciences, grad students often ‘earn their keep’ in their departments as teaching assistants for classes and research assistants in lab facilities. The NSF GRF frees students from these duties for up to three years by providing tuition and a substantial stipend, as well as miscellaneous travel awards, small sums of research money, etc.,” she says. “For the first three years of grad school, I didn’t have teaching or lab obligations and didn’t have to submit grant proposals to cover my costs, so I could focus solely on coursework and research.

“Doug will benefit greatly from winning this award, and will be able to dedicate his time and energy to his personal research, rather than running lab facilities,” she adds. “Winning the GRF is a fantastic opportunity for any student pursuing a graduate degree.”

We spoke to Barber, who majored in geology and minored in economics at Allegheny, about this honor and about how the College helped him to prepare for his career:

How does it feel to be one of 2,000 individuals to have received this fellowship?
I was very shocked when I found out I had been awarded a fellowship. I am still in disbelief. This was my third and final attempt at applying, and it definitely felt satisfying to see the persistence and hard work over these years pay off.

Most of all I feel extremely grateful and indebted to all of those who have helped me along the process and provided letters of recommendation, especially Dr. Daniel Stockli (current adviser at the University of Texas), Dr. Bob Schwartz (undergraduate mentor at Allegheny) and Dr. Mazin Tamar-Agha (research collaborator at the University of Baghdad in Iraq).

What does it mean to have received this fellowship?
The NSF award supports graduate students in technology, engineering and mathematics disciplines who are pursuing research-based master’s and doctoral degrees in the United States. Being selected as a fellow of this program means several things. First of all, it provides a three-year annual stipend along with a full cost-of-tuition allowance and the freedom to conduct my own research at any U.S. graduate institution of my choice. It also provides other benefits only open to awardees such as career development programs, international research opportunities and scientific internships at federal facilities and national laboratories.

To me, this award provides the flexibility and resources for me to pursue the research that interests me most and removes barriers to me achieving a career that is most suited for my passions and skills. For example, I no longer have to serve as a teaching assistant in order to secure funding, and I am guaranteed summer support, thus freeing up a large portion of my daily schedule.

What did you have to do to apply? Did you work with anyone at Allegheny during the process?
The application is relatively short but requires a lot of critical thought. In addition to a résumé and transcripts, you have to provide a two-page research proposal and a three-page personal statement and have to get three people to submit letters of recommendation on your behalf. The most difficult part is that in just two pages you have to describe your entire Ph.D. project to your reader and convince him/her that your research will have greater intellectual impact and benefit to society than 16,000 other applicants.

Dr. Bob Schwartz (Allegheny geology department) has been particularly helpful for me in getting this award. He has provided me with scientific discussion and critical feedback on my proposals over the years, helping me to perfect my application. More importantly, the research skills and knowledge I have gained over the years working with Bob Schwartz in the field and lab provided me an invaluable foundation and passion for this science, ultimately driving many of the ideas and organization of my awarded proposal.

What are you doing now?
I am living in Austin enrolled in a Ph.D. program at the University of Texas, which is one of the top five geoscience graduate programs in the nation. I am working on an industry-sponsored research project in the Iraqi Zagros Mountains in Kurdistan, and I am also involved in other laboratory technique-development research that we are applying to the Zagros project. During the semesters I take classes and attend conferences and meetings. This summer I will be doing field work in eastern Turkey and hopefully Iraqi Kurdistan barring unforeseen political circumstances.

How did Allegheny prepare you for your career?
There are three main attributes of Allegheny that have provided me with an exceptional foundation to succeed in graduate school and my career. These include the strong emphasis on experiential learning and undergraduate research, the tremendous quality and accountability of faculty and the focus on effective scientific communication.

In particular, I most benefited from the student-faculty research program supported by the Christine Scott Nelson Faculty Support Fund at Allegheny. Through these student-faculty research experiences, I was able to spend two summers conducting field research in Montana alongside Dr. Bob Schwartz and various other collaborators and students. This also gave me the opportunity to present at multiple national conferences and travel to conduct lab work at some of the top analytical facilities in the nation. Overall, this has been the most important experience during my undergraduate tenure in terms of skill and knowledge development, networking, fostering a passion for geologic research and ultimately preparing me for doctoral research. I would highly recommend the continuation and expansion of such student-faculty research programs at Allegheny!

Also, I have to thank Drs. Ron Cole, Rachel O’Brien, Tamara Misner and Jack Meter of the geology department for greatly contributing to my educational development and passion for geology. Lastly, the geology department (and Allegheny as a whole) has a strong emphasis on written communication – having developed this skill definitely serves as a major advantage when writing research proposals such as those for the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program.

Source: Academics, Publications & Research

Downsize and Upgrade: A Tiny House Story

Since 2013, freelance artist Laurie Hughes ’79 has been thinking small, very small.

Over the past year, she has been building her tiny house: a 6 ½-by-14-foot home and studio built on a towable trailer. For the former Allegheny geology student, this micro, movable home reduces her impact on the environment and offers liberating practicality.

Without the commitment of a mortgage and laborious maintenance of a traditional home, Hughes is free to explore, visit friends, and spend more time focusing on her artwork, which she will sell along her travels in her adorable abode.

Hughes has been detailing her experience on her blog,, sharing photos and memories of the building process, which has become something of a community affair: “Numerous friends and acquaintances have helped me in various ways with my project,” she said, mentioning that friends have donated everything from insulation to windows to their company and talents.

“My good friend Kyle Meadows has been the homebuilder extraordinaire on the project, and his wife, a blacksmith, created a gorgeous hammered copper shower pan for me,” said Hughes. “Although I have only had a handful of group workdays, my experience of building the house is definitely one of community. Not only did my father and my mother each, through their estates, provide me with some of the wherewithal to help me finance the project, but countless friends, acquaintances, and perfect strangers have had their ears bent for advice, information, ideas and favors.”

The result of this community effort is Laurie’s 138-square-foot home and studio, fully wired with basic amenities, and complete with glass display cases and an empty six-foot tall wall to showcase her artwork. Now, with the exterior of the house complete, Hughes and her team are beginning to install repurposed furniture and cabinets to finish the interior.

Before moving in, Hughes also must face the daunting chore of giving away or getting rid of all items that would create clutter in the new house. “My process of minimizing has been slow; I am virtually certain my tiny house will be finished before my apartment is empty!” Hughes admits.

Her collection of art books and some of her artwork will be housed with various friends and she plans to rotate art supplies in and out of a storage unit in Covington, Ky., though the thoughtfully designed spaces within her home will store all of the necessities that complete her mobile home and studio. There is storage for supplies hidden in and above the window seat, the design of the kitchen allows for silk dyeing, even the bathroom accommodates her artistry: the compostable toilet unit can be moved to make way for a pottery wheel.

Hughes and her cat, Minnie, are planning to hit the open road in their tiny house in the coming months, visiting friends, family, and Gators on a loop through Kentucky and Ohio, upstate New York, western Massachusetts, Connecticut, and through Pennsylvania (with a hopeful stop in Meadville), all with the peace of mind that, “I see my tiny house as a nest, really, providing me with essential shelter and workspace. With my tiny house, barring catastrophe, I will always have somewhere to call my own.”

More about Hughes’ tiny house can be found on her blog along with photos of the construction progress and the adventures along the way.

— Elizabeth Donaldson ’15 

Source: Academics, Publications & Research