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News Release, Kansas Geological Survey, June 9, 2017

Kansas Geological Survey Honors Outstanding Students

LAWRENCE—Three University of Kansas students received outstanding achievement awards in May from the Kansas Geological Survey (KGS), based on KU's West Campus.

Yao Wang, a PhD student in mathematics and geophysics from Hubei, China, received the William W. Hambleton Student Research Award. A graduate research assistant in the KGS Exploration Services section, Wang is developing innovative ways to eliminate background noise that interferes with seismic data collected on soils, rocks, and groundwater resources down to about 300 feet underground. Using non-invasive shallow seismic techniques, scientists create sound waves at the surface that travel through different rock types, sediments, and fluids in distinct ways and reflect back to the surface, where they are recorded and interpreted. Wang has co-authored several papers and reports advancing the computer modeling techniques he initiated to improve seismic-data interpretation and other KGS research. The Hambleton award is named for the KGS's director from 1970 to 1986 and is given for excellence in research as demonstrated by outstanding writing or oral presentation.

Alex Nolte, a PhD student in geology and geophysics from Wichita, received the Lee C. and Darcy Gerhard Field Research Student Award. He is working with the KGS Energy Research Section on a project to determine if carbon dioxide (CO2) from industrial sources can be safely injected deep underground for storage and to produce hard-to-reach oil in nearly depleted oil fields. While maintaining and monitoring the KGS's 15-station network that detects earthquakes in the vicinity of the project study area—the Wellington oil field southwest of Wichita—he identified evidence in the recorded data confirming a suspected link between earthquakes and subsurface wastewater disposal related to some oil and gas production activities. Nolte has presented his research at four professional conferences, has had a paper accepted for publication in a prestigious scientific journal, and is a member of the KU Student Senate and KU Graduate Student Advisory Board. The Gerhard award is named for the KGS's director from 1987 to 1999 and his wife.

Jeff Jennings, a master's student in geology from St. Charles, Illinois, received the Norman Plummer Outstanding Student Award. As a graduate research assistant in the KGS Energy Research section, Jennings assists with a project investigating subsurface faults in Kansas. He analyzes data collected on the subsurface rocks and structures in the state to identify where faults may be prone to activation during the injection of wastewater into disposal wells. With his help, the KGS was able to double the size of the study area, which now covers the entire state. Jennings has presented his KGS research at the annual meetings of two major geologic societies. He was also one of eight students selected to represent KU at the 2017 Capitol Graduate Research Summit, a forum for graduate students from six Kansas universities to share their research with state legislators and other leaders. Norman Plummer was a KGS staff member from 1936 to 1969.

The Kansas Geological Survey studies and provides information on the state's geologic resources and hazards, including groundwater, oil and natural gas, rocks and minerals, and earthquakes. It employs approximately 35 students. The recipients were presented cash awards and certificates.

Story by Cathy Evans, (785) 864-2195.
For more information, contact Annette Delaney, (785) 864-2152

Kansas Geological Survey, Public Outreach