By Lillian Jones and Peter Lanzarone, former NextGen Chairs
NextGen was founded in late 2019, when a small group of geophysicists met at the GSH office to discuss how to better connect the GSH to the budding geoscience community in Houston. With members Oscar Vasquez, Drew Jones, Whitney Blanchard, Jennifer Graf, Peter Lanzarone, Matthew Romane, and Lillian Jones, a new chapter of the GSH was formed with a group called ‘NextGen’ to focus on engaging early career professionals.
NextGen’s first event on January 30, 2020 was a huge success, a social mixer held a Boheme located in the Montrose area of Houston. We had over 60 people attend this flagship event. The energy and excitement at the Boheme social rallied our committee to kick-off planning for more social gatherings; unfortunately, Covid-19 erased those plans soon after conception.
The impact of the pandemic was widespread in the energy sector, and NextGen was no exception. However, the disruption to our calendar didn’t last long. NextGen hosted a virtual geoscience trivia in late May of 2020. The event was a success, with good participation and lively discussion afterward. We replicated the event in partnership with the Houston Geological Society’s group ‘NeoGeos’ again in early 2021. Even though we could not meet in person, we continued to connect with young geoscience professionals and students in the Houston area. During this time, Peter Lanzarone and Lillian Jones became the committee chairs for the group.
NextGen also started our own monthly technical lecture series, ‘Under A Different Rock,’ focusing on highlighting careers in geophysics outside of the oil and gas industry. These talks included presentations on shallow marine geophysical surveys for offshore wind operations, geophysics roles in CCS and other emerging technologies in the energy sector, GPR acquisition for utility and archaeological surveying, explosion detection, and mining geophysics. These were well attended and well-received and kept up NextGen’s momentum. Many of the lectures can be found on the GSH Vimeo account.
Once in-person events and meetings started back up, NextGen didn’t miss a beat. The committee kicked off a new Axe-Throwing social event which had a great turnout across GSH membership. The axe-throwing was so popular that plans are in place to hold it again in the near future. Keep a look out for it on the GSH calendar!
Another goal of the NextGen group has been to build stronger ties with the local universities’ geoscience departments. To that end, we recruited Michael Martinez (UH) and Luan Nguyen (Rice) to the committee in 2020. They helped us plan our virtual program and directed us to in-person Happy Hours with the SEG wavelets. We also supported our university colleagues by acting as judges for the Rice RIGS (Research in Geosciences) and UH Earth and Atmospheric Sciences Student Research Conference events in late April/early May of 2022. A couple of the winners from the two universities presented at a Technical Luncheon for the GSH in October.
In June 2022, Lillian and Peter stepped into an expanded leadership capacity within the GSH as acting board members, accomplishing one of the missions of the NextGen group to build a pipeline of GHS leaders. Two new bright and highly committed members, Michael Martinez (UH) and Benjamin Miller (XOM) are currently serving as the chairs and are excited to serve the young professionals of the GSH moving forward. They recently teamed up with the AI-Machine Learning SIG to join that group’s monthly happy hours at St. Arnold’s Brewery as well as the Geophysics in the Cloud workshop. We encourage everyone to participate in these events. Engage the younger members of our society and form connections to propel them through their careers.
NextGen’s Mission Statement: To empower the next generation of the GSH to cultivate industry leaders through professional development and networking. To Maintain a GSH committee with a chairperson focused on the objectives of the next generation geophysicists through attaining guidance and support of the GSH Board of Directors, mentors, and members.