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.

Dr. Kathryn Tamulonis has received a Petroleum Research Fund grant to study shale formations.

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.