What are our graduates doing ?

Erika Bowen (BS Geology, 1997; MS Hydrology, 1998)

Immediately upon wrapping up her Hydrology MS degree in 1998, Erika headed for Houston to take a job with the oilfield service company Schlumberger. She went straight to the oilfield where she worked on drill rigs for two years. She then headed back to headquarters and became a petrophysicist -– a person who analyzes geophysical data to maximize petroleum production. She received training in advanced drill log interpretation. Her specialty was production log interpretation: mathematically analyzing records of amount pumped and pressure to understand where oil and gas can most easily be pumped out. "The education in hydraulics that I received in the Hydrology Program at New Mexico Tech was invaluable in preparing me for this job!" Erika said.

"I've been able to travel all over. I've worked in California, Texas,
and all the way up to North Dakota, in Alberta, and a lot of time on the North Slope in Alaska."

She has recently moved into a new career path in well placement. "This is using logging well drilling tools to monitor the progress of drill holes in real time. It involves a lot of geology," Erika explained. "We are basically the 'eyes' that tell the drillers whether they are on course. What we can do is amazing. For a coal-bed methane project, we recently completed a 6,000-foot horizontal drill hole in a 9-foot-thick folded coal seam, with 100% of the drilling 'in the zone'!"

"Schlumberger is a great company to work for," Erica told us. "I've basically had three separate career segments: in drilling support, log interpretation, and well placement. With most big petroleum companies, new employees get put in a slot and stay there for the rest of their careers. I've been able to travel all over. I've worked in California, Texas, and all the way up to North Dakota, in Alberta, and a lot of time on the North Slope in Alaska. After only eight years, I'm making well over $100,000 per year!"

Johnnie Lyman (BS Geology, 2003)

Johnnie Lyman
After completing her BS degree at New Mexico Tech, Johnnie enrolled in the PhD program at the Scripps Institute of Oceanography in La Jolla, California, where she is studying rapid climate change in the Earth's past, specifically the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum.

Johnnie reports that NMT helped prepare her for advanced research in many ways. "A strong background in field work was an absolute necessity for my thesis. I work in many different places (Utah, France, Argentina) to collect samples. Also, the individual attention at NMT was really beneficial, forcing me to be a better student because you couldn't just slide by." She also found the time she spent working in New Mexico Tech laboratories beneficial. "I run samples on a stable isotope mass spectrometer, which I ran at NMT for several years. The experience with that has allowed me to more easily interpret results -- and to figure out what's wrong with the mass spec!"

Dave Wilson (PhD Earth and Environmental Science with dissertation in Geophysics, 2004)

Dave Wilson in Mexico with Colima Volcano erupting ash and steam in the background
Two and a half years after receiving his PhD from New Mexico Tech, Dave Wilson became the new manager of the USGS's Hawaiian Volcano Observatory in January 2007. The observatory is located at the summit of Hawaii's most active volcano, Kilauea (kee-la-way-ah), on the island of Hawaii.

Dave is in charge of monitoring the five volcanoes on the island of Hawaii. (See more about how these volcanoes formed here.) The observatory collects data from sensors that are placed around the volcanoes, and scientists at the observatory use this data to learn more about the volcanoes and to keep the public informed about the state of the volcanoes.

Working at the observatory is not your typical desk job. There are always opportunities to go out in the field to take measurements, install new equipment, or take photographs. HVO even has a volunteer program where you can spend three months in provided housing in exchange for working at the observatory. For more details on Dave's new job, read the HVO newsletter article.

After receiving his PhD at New Mexico Tech, Dave accepted a post-graduate appointment at the University of Texas at Austin where he studied an active volcano in Mexico. While a student at NMT, Dave studied the deep structure of the Colorado Plateau and the Rio Grande Rift in the western U.S. He also assisted another student in studying another active volcano located in Antarctica: Mt. Erebus.