Geology faculty member gains exposure through geoscience training, presentations

September 24, 2010

PLAINVIEW – Dr. Tim Walsh spent most of his summer honing his craft as he participated in a field program and three workshops in which he presented posters on research done at Wayland Baptist University in geology.

An assistant professor of geology at Wayland, Walsh was selected from professors across the nation to help facilitate the Bighorn Basin Field Program in Montana and Wyoming, an all-expense paid week-long “school” for undergraduate students. Cosponsored by the Geological Society of America and Exxon Mobile,, the program provided intensive study into the petroleum industry and its use of sequence stratigraphy in the interpretation of geologic features.

              Walsh and four other faculty members worked with 20 students during the busy week in August, which included various lectures on geology topics and much hands-on study in locations including Elk Basin, Cedar Mountain, Buffalo Bill Dam, and Bighorn Canyon. The students examined stratigraphy and the individual hydrocarbon system play elements within the structures, such as source, seal, reservoir and structure.

              Walsh also attended three workshops in Montana after the program, presenting posters of his own research findings at each. The workshops were titled “Using GIS (Geographic Information Systems) and Remote Sensing to Teach Geoscience in the 21st Century” and “Teaching Geoscience in the Field.” Both were programs by “On the Cutting Edge,” which produces professional development for geoscience faculty as part of a multi-year project administered by the National Association for Geoscience Teachers, supported by the National Science Foundation.

              The posters he presented dealt with the Coyote Creek Field Exercise, a mapping project Walsh did with students in south central New Mexico; and the use of GNOME (General NOAA Oil Modeling Environment) to model oil spills in an environmental geology course.

              A third workshop dealt with using Geopads – various levels of computer technology – in the field. Walsh said that workshop involved the use of everything from advanced hand-held GPS units to slate computers to the newer Apple iPads.  In addition to his sharing of his own work, Walsh submitted activities and teaching materials for the workshops as well.

              While the experiences were extensive, Walsh said the information will be valuable for him and his students in the WBU geology department.

              “Altogether this was eight days of intensive work, with some days running from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., but it was very worthwhile,” Walsh said. “I am implementing many of the ideas and concepts from these workshops into our geology program and courses at Wayland this year.”