It’s been a career of firsts.
Martha Lou Broussard was the first woman to be a geology graduate of Rice University. She was the first woman to be on the AAPG House of Delegates. She was the first woman to be a member of the AAPG Executive Committee. She was the first woman to serve as Vice President of AAPG. And now, Martha Lou, who still passionately provides leadership to AAPG after more than five decades of exemplary volunteer service, is this year’s recipient of the Michel T. Halbouty Outstanding Leadership Award, given in recognition of exceptional leadership in the petroleum geosciences.
She is the 14th recipient, joining Robbie Rice Gries as the only other woman who has received the honor. There are many areas and organizations where Martha Lou was able to excel as a leader, including service to charitable organizations and her church, but according to the citation by John Shelton, she will long be remembered as the guiding force in the beginning of the AAPG’s Student Expo, which was held at Rice in 1998. Her involvement with the expo continues to this day and is her legacy to AAPG.
Martha Lou is a native of Tulsa, Oklahoma, but has resided in Houston for most of her adult life. Much of it is proudly connected to, and engaged with, her alma mater Rice University.
Her first steps in professional geology started as an assistant to geologist L. King Hubbard. She had three different assignments with Shell, but returned to rice in 1966 as the administrator of the school’s department of geology, helping the school achieve a coveted respect in geoscience education. Her active leadership role continued after her retirement in 1989, when she became a full time volunteer as the department’s alumni coordinator and key supporter of faculty and students. She established a fellowship for Rice students, and a scholarship in Engineering at Texas A&M in memory of her husband, Douglas Broussard. She later provided funds for Rice to be a perpetual subscriber to the AAPG Data Pages archival library.
“Martha Lou is the best friend our department ever had,” was how professor Albert Bally, Sidney Powers award recipient verbally described her, as well as James Lee Wilson, another Powers recipient. She was truly, the head of the department.
Leadership also marked her volunteer service locally. Martha Lou has served the Houston Geological Society since the early 1960s, serving on its executive committee, chairing numerous committees, working as the editor of its Delta volumes and as a permanent Delegate at Large to the AAPG House of Delegates. She represented the Gulf Coast section on AAPG’s Advisory Council from 2011 to 2014. And while residing in London from 1976 to 1983, she served as London’s delegate to the House of Delegates for AAPG. Her record of service and leadership is just as impressive. She was chair of the House of Delegates in 1987, and in 1988 was elected, AAPG Vice President. By 1998, she has served on 10 AAPG committees, including five of the six AAPG standing committees that focus on students. Other AAPG awards she has received include the Certificate of Merit and Distinguished Service, the HOD Certificate of Service, the Presidential Award for Exemplary Service, and both HOD and AAPG Honorary Membership. She became an AAPG Foundation Trustee Associate in 2005.
Yet for Maratha Lou, it all seems to center on her devotion and dedication to empowering and enabling today’s students to be tomorrow’s geoscientists. Martha Lou was part of the seven member team honored with the SEG Special Commendation in 2007 for their work on the student Expo. This same year she received the AAPG James A. Hartmann ‘Service to Students’ award. For students, her leadership and her legacy still points to the future.