Skip Navigation
The University of Texas at Austin
Make a Gift to JSG
Update Your Info
Submit Alumni Notes

Friends & Alumni Network

Get Hooked.

UT has been graduating geologists for over 100 years, and the Jackson School is proud to claim over 4600 alumni around the globe. This group represents some of the finest earth science minds in the business. To recognize this important group, the school created the Friends and Alumni Network (FANs).  We seek to grow the premier alumni program for geoscientists in the nation, and all UT geo graduate and friends with an interest in the geosciences, are invited to participate.

Come back to the 40 acres or gather with a regional chapter and reignite your connection to your geology roots.

Networking Receptions

I highly encourage all alumni to participate in FANs events, which provide great opportunities to learn about cutting edge research from the University’s best and brightest, network with an outstanding group of your professional peers, and renew connections with your classmates and professors. In addition, you can help ensure a strong future geoscience workforce through your support of FANs-sponsored student programs by providing summer employment, making financial contributions, and serving as inspiring role models in outreach activities.
- Bonnie, B.S. ’74, M.A. ’79

You can find us at professional meetings or in your local community. Access our events calendar or contact a chapter director to get involved.

Continuing Education

Stay engaged in relevant issues and hear from the experts.  We bring UT’s best and brightest faculty to your community. Over the last few years we have covered such timely topics as the BP Macondo Incident, Haiti Earthquake and Edwards Aquifer. All of our discussions count as a Professional Geoscientist Credit.

Social Media

Looking for a long lost classmate?  Want to reconnect with a faculty member?  Join us on Facebook to get the very latest!

Field Trips and Travel

Small group travel in the company of JSG alumni and faculty! Check out the 2011 trip to Italy with Dr. McBride and the upcoming 2012 trip to Antarctica with Dr. Ian Dalziel.

JSG Reunion

Come back to the 40 Acres to Reconnect, Relive and Remember
April 26th-27th More info.

Mentor  Develop  Grow

Connecting Students and Alumni

In today’s world, building a professional network is essential to career success. GeoConnect is a program designed to strengthen the Jackson School network, by giving alumni a flexible way to engage and volunteer while also teaching students the skills to develop and benefit from a professional community.

“One of the most important things you can do is find a good mentor.  This person needs to be someone you look up to, respect and feel comfortable asking many (and sometimes dimwitted) questions. Having an experienced person in the industry to turn to, particularly someone you trust and admire, is invaluable.”
– Dax McDavid, B.A. ’03, M.S. ‘06

What is an alumni mentor?

An alumni mentor guides a student by sharing expertise, advice, personal experiences and insights to help the student understand the different career or education options and potential employers in their area of interest.

In addition, an alumni mentor informs a student about the daily work involved in their profession and the skills needed to improve their success potential.

What are the benefits?

For Alumni

  • Make a difference in a student’s life
  • Experience personal satisfaction and fulfillment
  • Professional and personal rejuvenation
  • Improve interpersonal and communication skills
  • Build mentorship skills and experience
  • Stay connected to the Jackson School
  • Impact future generations of geoscientists

“Mentoring Jackson School students has been a fantastic experience.  While meeting with a graduating student to discuss his future plans, I was so impressed that I suggested that he submit a resume to my company.  He was hired and is working at GSI Environmental Inc.”
– Mark Hemingway, B.S. ’81

For Students

  • Develop an expanded personal network
  • Improve networking skills
  • Receive career advice
  • Increase self-awareness and self-discipline
  • Gain knowledge and perspective of an organization and culture
  • Improve professional communication skills
  • Complement academics with professional development

How does it work?

Choose one or more mentoring activities that best fit your schedule:

“It is a great way to see firsthand what geologists do and to see a work environment in which I may find myself in the future.”
– Jasmin Alfaro, Class of ‘17

  • One on one meetings
  • Lunches, coffee appointments, etc.
  • Speed interviews
  • Mock interviews
  • Speed networking
  • Career panels
  • Student group meetings
  • One-day Externships
  • Phone calls or Skype
  • Alumni spotlight online
  • Networking events and receptions
  • Presentations to students

How do I sign up?

The process is quick and easy.

  1. Complete a simple online registration
  2. Determine the level of involvement that is best for you through a quick follow-up phone call
  3. Select an activity that will introduce you to students
  4. Start mentoring!

Who can I contact for more information?

Kristen Tucek
Assistant Director of Alumni Relations

Maurine Riess
Senior Placement Representative

Chelsea Ochoa
Career Services Program Coordinator

2014 Friends and Alumni Network Board Members


Heather EcholsHeather Wilson Echols

President 2013-2014
“I am proud of my degree because of the outstanding reputation that JSG has in the geosciences. It’s amazing we are rated #4 in the country!”

Heather received her B.S. in Geology from the University of Texas in 1979.  She also attended the University of Wyoming from 1975-77.  Currently, she is a Managing Partner for the Mark Wilson Family Partnership, L.P., President of Rio Pecos Corporation and Tara-Jon Corporation and an exploration geologist. In these roles, she manages producing oil and gas properties in Southeastern New Mexico and generates oil and gas prospects.  In addition to the role on the FANs Board, she is also a member of West Texas Geological Society and American Association of Petroleum Geologists. 

Why UT?
Heather chose UT for an education in geosciences because of the outstanding reputation and close association with the Bureau of Economic Geology and the Institute of Geophysics. Her favorite memory from her time on campus was the awesome classes and professors who truly cared about the students as well as feeling the sense of family in the geology department.

Best Memories and Biggest Influences at JSG
“Environments of Deposition and Depositional Processes” taught by Dr. Scott and Dr. McBride was very influential for Heather. This course was very applicable to being an exploration geologist and being able to generate oil and gas prospects. Nine weeks of field camp (one three week and one six week) also made a huge impact on applying her classroom knowledge to the real world. “It was very exciting and rewarding to physically visualize everything I had studied and make conclusions about many environments of deposition,” says Heather.

Words of Wisdom
“After graduating from JSG, stay connected by being a member of Texas Exes and an active Jackson School alumni.  It’s exciting to keep up with the new technology, professors and classmates by attending JSG reunions, tailgate parties, networking parties and field trips.” – Heather

Dax McdavidDax McDavid

President Incoming President for 2014-2015
“Being a geologist is unique in the professional world, especially in Austin, TX.   My degrees have allowed me to pursue a rewarding career that helps provide safe domestic energy.  Also, being a geologist in the oil and gas business can be exciting!  I look forward to going to work each day, and not a lot of people can say that.”

Dax became interested in petroleum geology during an internship as a geotech at American Shoreline Oil and Gas in Corpus Christi.  He received a B.S. from the University of Texas in 2003 and was hired as a geologist for Stalker Energy, LP in Austin.  After his first year of employment, he decided to head back to UT to pursue a Master’s Degree in Petroleum Geology while continuing to work full-time.  After earning an M.A. in 2006, he stayed on at Stalker Energy as an exploration geologist, concentrating mainly on the conventional plays along the Gulf Coast, South Texas, North Texas and Louisiana.   He recently moved to Brigham Resources, where he focuses mainly on unconventional resource plays, primarily the Bakken and Eagleford Shales with exposure to Permian, DJ, Appalachian and Illinois Basins.  He is a member of AAPG, Austin SIPES (former Secretary), and FANs. 

Why UT?
Dax started at UT as an undeclared Liberal Arts student.  He became interested in geology after taking GEO 401 with Dr. Connelly.  Dr. Connelly taught it with enthusiasm, and this was actually the first class he had any real interest in.

Best Memories and Biggest Influences at JSG
“My best memories of my time on campus would be meeting up with my girlfriend, Kristen (who is now my wife), every day in front of the statue ‘The Mustangs.’ We’d often meet there between classes to visit and have lunch, so ‘The Mustangs’ statue will always be a special place for us.”  Dax also has fond memories of graduation day when he received his Master’s degree as part of the first graduating class from the newly formed Jackson School of Geosciences.  His biggest influence at JSG would have to be Dr. Fisher, a great professor and mentor who always point him in the right direction.  “I admire him immensely and hold him in the highest esteem,” says Dax.

Words of Wisdom
Network!  Get involved with alumni societies, boards, and professional organizations. You will make great contacts outside of your current place of employment. These connections will prove to be as valuable as your degree. Also, find a good mentor.  This person needs to be someone you look up to, respect and feel comfortable asking many and sometimes dimwitted questions. Having an experienced person in the industry to turn to, particularly someone you trust and admire, is invaluable.  – Dax

elliott pewElliott Pew

Past President
“The University of Texas doesn’t just give the degrees away, you really had to earn it.   My geological world expanded dramatically in graduate school!  I proudly display my degree on the wall.”

Elliott received an A.B. from Franklin and Marshall College in 1977 and a M.A. from the University of Texas in 1982. He has been a geologist in the oil and gas industry for 33 years, starting at Tenneco Oil Company in San Antonio, with positions of increasing responsibility at American Exploration and Newfield Exploration in Houston.  He co-founded Common Resources in 2007, an unconventional resource exploration company. Currently, Elliott serves as Chairman of the Board for Enerplus Resources, Director for Common Resources, III, and Director for Southwestern Energy.  In addition, he is Past President for FANs and a member of AAPG, SEG, IPAA, Houston Geological Society, and South Texas Geological Society. 

Why UT?
Because Jackson School is the best!

Best Memories and Biggest Influences at JSG
Elliott will never forget Dr. Scott’s lecture to the incoming graduate school class in fall 1978 (still makes me sweat!) and finishing with the “technical sessions” presentation of my master’s thesis. “My time in school was a great experience which opened many doors for me,” says Elliott.  Elliott found the quality of the professors who helped supervise his thesis (Muehlberger, Backus, Buffler, and Kehle), as well as the ability to do cutting edge research in deep marine geology and geophysics to be very influential.

Words of Wisdom
“Stay curious, look for what’s new and innovative, try to learn something new every day.” -Elliott

kathy weinerKathy Weiner

Networking Director
“My time at UT was one of the best times of my life.  I met my future husband there, and I can’t think of any other place that I would rather have been.”

Kathy earned a B.S. from the University of Texas in 1983. She then worked as a geophysicist for Exxon, but is now retired.  She is a member of University of Texas Littlefield Society, L.T. Barrow Founders Circle (JSG), and Inaugural Hill Society Member (JSG). 

Why UT?
Kathy decided to go to UT because her father and older brother were Longhorns, and there was never a question that she would be one as well.  Kathy always had an interest in math and science.  She chose geology because she was fascinated by how geological features were created and how it all fit together.

Best Memories and Biggest Influences at JSG
“My favorite memory of my time on campus was when Professor Emeritus, Dr. Amos Salvador escorted me to my awards ceremony,” says Kathy.  He introduced her to the President of the University and the Chairman of the Department of Geological Sciences.  He made her feel very special and proud to be a geologist.

bonnie weiseBonnie R. Weise

Outreach Director
“The main reason I am so proud of my UT degrees is that I earned them from such an excellent institution. I feel that those degrees somehow transfer the great respect held by the school onto me as an individual. They are the high points of my resume.”

Bonnie earned a B.S. in 1974 and an M.A. in 1979, both from the University of Texas. She has almost 40 years of geological experience, concentrated in the Gulf Coast region and the Permian Basin of West Texas. Her initial employment was at the UT Bureau of Economic Geology from 1974 through 1981. In 1982, she moved to San Antonio and into the oil and gas industry. She has held a variety of roles with Placid Oil Company, Valero Producing Company, Venus Oil Company, and Venus Exploration, Inc. For the past eleven years, she has worked as a geological consultant, and since 2007, she has also been a Principal in the partnership of Yegua Energy Associates, LLC. In addition, she is a member of JSG FANs Board, AAPG, AAPG-DPA, SEPM, GCSSEPM, PBS-SEPM, SIPES, SIPES San Antonio Chapter, South Texas Geological Society, Houston Geological Society, West Texas Geological Society, and San Antonio Geophysical Society. 

Why UT?
Bonnie chose UT Austin because of our overall great reputation, not just in Texas, but also nationally and internationally. She knew UT had strength in many disciplines, including the sciences. She actually enrolled as a chemistry major but decided to “try out” geology as a science elective. It only took a couple of weeks into that first geology course to get her HOOKED! She formally changed majors at the end of her freshman year. “That was unquestionably the single most important decision I have ever made,” says Bonnie.

Best Memories and Biggest Influences at JSG
Bonnie’s favorite memories from her days as a geology student were not actually of events on campus but rather off campus, and those were the GEO 320 and GEO 660 field courses. She recalls these as great adventures spent with some great folks, students and professors alike, who shared in the trials and tribulations of field work, and then of course, the sweet success of getting the projects done. She discovered that what she learned in the classroom could be applied through some real hands-on experience, and all the while she was learning even more.

Words of Wisdom
“My general advice to geoscience students and young alumni is to not ever doubt your major and career decision. You made the right choice. Not only is this the best, most exciting career to be in, but also the world needs you. My advice specifically to current undergraduate students is to get the strongest and broadest geoscience foundation that you can within the framework of your degree program. Don’t ignore or trivialize any course, and always try to do your best! My advice specifically to current graduate students is to be sure to take full advantage of the great resources – faculty, staff, facilities, connections to industry, etc. – that the Jackson School has to offer in helping you with your research. Don’t miss out – you likely will not find that much support all in one place again! My advice specifically to young alums is to remember your UT connections. The value of the alumni network, both formal and informal, will be one of your greatest assets throughout your career.” -Bonnie

riley leaderRiley Leader

Austin Chapter Director
“Lots of hard work and long nights studying went into earning my degree, and I am proud to have graduated from such a distinguished school, where I was surrounded by the best of the best.”

Riley graduated for the Jackson School in 2009 with a B.S. and continued working for Swift Energy, the company where she interned during my last year of school. In March of 2010, she accepted a job with Forest Oil in Denver, CO, where she worked for two years. In August of 2012, she moved back to Austin and returned to work at Swift Energy. Recently, she joined her family’s company, Navigator Oil & Minerals, Inc., as Vice President of Exploration and opened the Austin office in April of 2014. Riley is a member of FANs, AAPG, APES, YPE, and RMAG. 

Why UT?
Riley’s father and older brother both went to the University of Texas, and she grew up hoping that one day she could also claim BEVO as her school mascot. She actually started college as a Petroleum Engineering major but enjoyed her Intro to Geology class so much that she transferred into JSG. This turned out to be one of the best decisions she’s ever made. “I am lucky to be so passionate about my work and I enjoy what I do, every day,’ says Riley.

Best Memories and Biggest Influences at JSG
The computer lab in the Jackson School was where we all used to study together, and I have many great memories from our time spent working hard, while still laughing and enjoying ourselves. All of my class mates in the Jackson School were a wonderful influence. We all became such great friends after spending so much time together in our field courses. We supported and helped each other through school, and we had a great time along the way

Words of Wisdom
“To the current students: the hard work pays off, I promise, so keep going! To the young alum: Never stop learning and stay passionate.” -Riley

richard leachRichard Leach

Dallas/Ft. Worth Chapter Director
“I’m proud of my degree because it has enabled me, along with other geologists, to look at many examples of earth processes and use those examples to contribute to our understanding of the depositional basins in which we search for oil & gas. This, along with new and advanced drilling and completion technologies, has enabled the oil & gas industry to find and develop incredible new reserves which reversed the previous trend of declining production in the US.”

Richard attended Stephen F. Austin State University from 1973 – 1975. The then transferred to the University of Texas at Austin and earned a B.S. in Geological Sciences in 1977. He has been a petroleum exploration geologist for 36 years and worked in various roles with companies including Placid O.C, Sunmark Exploration, Halff Associates, Inc, ESP International, Horizontal Solutions International, and Reach Petroleum, LLC. He currently serves as Petroleum Exploration Geologist and Partner for The Unconventionals, LLC and Eldorado Resources, LLC. He is an active member of FANs, AAPG, and AIPG. 

Why UT?
Richard became interested in pursuing Geological Sciences as a career during his sophomore year at SFASU. His dad, an accountant for Hunt Oil Co., said that the University of Texas had the best Geology Department, so he transferred that summer.

Best Memories and Biggest Influences at JSG
Richard has many favorite memories from his time on campus: having fun with fellow geology students, “Friday lab” at the Texas Tavern, field camp, and watching Earl Campbell & the Longhorns! His biggest influence was the professors, which were recognized as some of the best anywhere. “Dr. Alan Scott’s Depositional Systems class was eye-opening and thought provoking for me, even years later. Figuring out the regional, then local depositional system you are looking at is the first and probably the most important step in developing any exploration project,” says Richard.

Words of Wisdom
“Find an aspect of geology that you really enjoy or are interested in and learn as much as you can about that subject, while gaining a broad background in as many other areas of geology and the other sciences as you can. Also, learning how to write and present technical papers is not ‘optional!’” – Richard

marcus chrobackMarcus A. Chroback

Dallas/Ft. Worth Chapter Director
“I’m proud of what I have been able to do as a result of receiving a Jackson School of Geosciences degree.

Marcus received a B.S. in Geology from the Jackson School in 2010, and earned an M.S. in Geology from the University of Houston in 2013. He worked as an intern with EOG Resources in the summers of 2011 and 2012. After grad school, he started his career as a geologist with EOG Resources in September 2013. 

Why UT?
A prestigious reputation in geosciences and overall quality at the University of Texas attracted Marcus to the Jackson School.

Best Memories and Biggest Influences at JSG
Some of Marcus’ favorite memories of his time on campus include involvement with the UT Ice Hockey team as well as the field course Geo 660. His biggest influence would have to be Mark Cloos.

Words of Wisdom
“Get to know as many people as you can while in school, from friends to professors. Do your best to get involved with companies during the summer to gain valuable experience, and never hesitate to ask questions.” – Marcus

bruno maldonadoBruno Maldonado

Houston Chapter Director
“Pursuing a degree in geology/geophysics has opened up a great adventure for me. In my work, I use some of the most advance technologies that have allowed me to see the most fascinating rock formations about and beneath the surface of the earth.”

Bruno earned his B.S. from the University of Texas in 1982 then accumulated a wealth of professional experience. He immediately went to work for Sun Exploration & Production Co. in Dallas, TX as an Exploration and Production Geophysicist, and stayed there for almost a decade, he working in the Gulf of Mexico Shelf, Gulf of Mexico Deep Water and US Mid-Continent. Over the next few years, Bruno managed geophysical technical marketing efforts for North and South America at PGS Tensor, Inc., then directed worldwide geophysical technical marketing at Diamond Geophysical Service Corporation. Next, he got into exploration with Burlington Resources and Newfield Exploration Company before accepting a role evaluating SE Asia exploration and production opportunities with Ping Petroleum (Bermuda) Limited. Currently, Bruno is a Senior Geophysical Advisor at Apache Corporation assigned to the Worldwide Exploration and New Ventures Team. In addition, Bruno is a member of the FANS board, SEG, and AAPG. 

Why UT?
First of all, being a native Texan, I grew up with the hopes of attending UT and discovered geology through a friend. Having taken my first geology course with Dr. Long, I was fascinated with how we could tell a lot about the earth’s history through its rocks. In addition to this, I always had a love for math and physics and chose the geophysics option for my undergraduate degree.

Best Memories and Biggest Influences at JSG
Bruno would have to say meeting my wife of 35 years was his best memory of being on campus. But attending the UT football games during the Earl Campbell years is a close second. And his biggest influence while here was the Geology Department. “It helped mold who I am today. The professors and TA’s always showed a great passion for sharing their knowledge,” says Bruno.

Words of Wisdom
“Study hard, play some. You will have time later in life to play more.” -Bruno

R. Michael Looney

Houston Chapter Director
“A degree in geology from the University of Texas Jackson School of Geosciences carries a great deal of respect no matter your specific discipline. It is a very valuable asset that can’t be taken away.”

Mike earned two degrees from the University of Texas at Austin, a B.S. in 1971 and an M.A. in 1977. With more than thirty-eight years of experience as a petroleum geologist and geophysicist, Mike has worked in a number of roles with Exxon, Hunt Energy, Terra Resources, Edge Petroleum and Aspect Resources. Adept at coordinating the efforts of a multi-disciplined team and forging an effective exploration effort, he has opened district offices, founded independent companies and managed company exploration programs. His technical areas of expertise cover a range of trends across the Texas Gulf Coast and South Louisiana. Currently, Mike is President for Black Pearl and is responsible for overall guidance of the company, including partner and investor relationships, directing and managing company exploration efforts, generating new business opportunities and establishing strategic alliances with industry partners. He is a Certified Petroleum Geologist and a State of Texas Licensed Geologist and a member of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists, Houston Geological Society, Society of Independent Professional Earth Scientists, Onshore Exploration Independents and Texas Wildcatters. 

Why UT?
Originally, Mike was a pre-med major until his sophomore year. He changed majors and took a freshman geology course taught by Dr. Sam Ellison. “I was hooked,” says Mike.

Best Memories and Biggest Influences at JSG
Mike’s favorite memories are of the friendships developed with a close group of undergraduate and graduate school classmates that continues to today. The biggest influence came from my professors and teaching assistants that instilled in him their passion for geosciences.

Words of Wisdom
“My advice to new students and young alum is to choose your path carefully. Determine the discipline you love early and get passionate about it.” – Mike

john longJohn Michael Long

San Antonio Chapter Director
“I’m proud of my degree because it gave me the credentials to maintain an enjoyable career in petroleum geology during bad times, that is, when oil prices were low.”

John earned a B.S. in Geology from the University of Missouri, Columbia in 1974 and an M.S. from the University of Texas in 1978. Throughout his career, he has done petroleum exploration in the Gulf Coast and Gulf of Mexico, then West Texas, Kansas, and Wyoming. Currently, he is a Petroleum Geologist at Osborn Heirs Company in San Antonio. In addition, he is a member of AAPG, SEG, South Texas Geological Society, and San Antonio Geophysical Society. 

Why UT?
John selected UT for grad school because everyone at Texaco, his first job, told him that it was the best petroleum geology oriented department around.

Best Memories and Biggest Influences at JSG
John will always remember learning to make a slide show from Professor Al Scott, and Ralph Kehle’s Gulf Coast Tectonics course that taught him “most of what he needed to know in life.”

Words of Wisdom
“Get a well-rounded back ground, including liberal arts courses so you can write and give speeches, specialize in what you like, and hope that what you like stays popular.” – John

frank cornishFrank Cornish

Corpus Christi Chapter Director
“UT is world class and I’m in good company.”

Frank Cornish received his B.S. from LSU in 1973 and M.A. from the University of Texas at Austin in 1975. He has worked in the industry in Midland, Oklahoma, Houston, and Corpus Christi for Getty Oil, Texas Oil and Gas, Yuma, Suemaur, and SV Energy. He currently serves as President of Imagine Resources, LLC. He is also a member of the Corpus Christi Geological Society, South Texas Geological Society, Houston Geological Society, AAPG, SEG, and SIPES. 

Why UT?
One of Frank’s professors, Dr. Clyde Moore at LSU, recommended that he consider the University of Texas for grad school. UT offered him an assistance-ship, and the rest is history.

Best Memories and Biggest Influences at JSG
Frank’s favorite memory from Austin was time spent at Hippy Hollow, but his biggest influence was Depositional Systems and the teaching team of Fisher, Brown, and Scott, and Folk/McBride. “They taught us how to think,” says Frank.

Words of Wisdom
“Don’t forget whose shoulders you are standing on (professors) and those students around you that helped you to achieve your success.” -Frank

IT Help  |  Profiles  |  UT Direct  |  Blackboard  |  Privacy Policy  |  Accessibility
© 2015 Jackson School of Geosciences, The University of Texas at Austin
Make a Gift to JSGJSG's YouTube ChannelJSG's RSS News FeedJSG's TwitterJSG's Facebook