Industry-Rice Earth Science Symposia

Ms. Cathleen Jo Trechter ’77 & Dr. Ed K. Biegert ’74 ’76 ’78

We have had strong ties to Rice since we were undergraduates in the mid-seventies. Last century, when we were at Rice, it was insular and we seldom ventured beyond the hedges Since then, Houston and Rice have both grown. Houston is a world class oil center. Rice is a world class university. But, some of its hedges remain. As a Tier 1 university, Rice should have a broad reach and extend its influence beyond the hedges. Indeed, the university has moved a great distance in that direction. In this Centennial year, we wanted to make a lasting gift to Rice University that supported the Earth Science Department in their effort to grow outside the hedges. To that end, we planted a seed by funding an endowment for the Industry-Rice Earth Science Symposia (IRESS) that challenged Earth Science to reconnect with their alumni and to build lasting bridges between the students and faculty and the oil industry.

Mike Unger ’01 & Layla Unger ’00

In the years since leaving the Rice Earth Science Department and entering into the Energy Industry, we have often wondered why there wasn’t a stronger bond between the two. After all, we need each other. Students and professors can benefit from the training, career opportunities, and research funding that industry can offer, and industry can benefit from a stronger link to of-the-moment academic research and technology innovation.

The IRESS vision of a yearly symposium will create a stronger sense of community between academia and industry, by collaborating and sharing knowledge about Earth Science topics relevant to both. When the idea of the IRESS Endowment was put before us, we realized that at this point in our careers it is up to us to create the communities that we want to be a part of. For this reason and many more, we are happy to support the Endowment and we sincerely hope that others will join us in this endeavor.

Dr. Manik Talwani, Schlumberger
Professor Emeritus of Advanced Studies and Research

There are at least three reasons why these symposia will be important and successful. Firstly, having worked both in industry and academia, I have often seen instances where industry scientists from both sectors attack a common problem, but in different ways. Bringing such scientists together in the setting of the IRESS symposia could be highly productive. Secondly, IRESS symposia are not a one shot deal. Important problems change from time to time. Having a series of symposia will enable IRESS to focus on problems that are most current. Thirdly, the Earth Science Department has a large number of alumni working in industry who are very enthusiastic about promoting these symposia. They have gained a lot from Rice and are eager to give something back.

Houston is the energy capital of the world. The goal of IRESS is for Houston also to be the site of the most important joint industry- academia annual earth science symposium. Rice will make this happen.

Eleanor Cozier-Abdulah & Ken Abdulah ’95

Earlier this year, I attended a group discussion where Ed Biegert shared the reasons that prompted him and his wife Cathleen to launch the IRESS Endowment. I was intrigued by their vision of a symposium that would bring industry and academia together each year to explore research topics that were particularly timely, and relevant, to both groups. The idea was to create a forum where current research could be presented, and where new ideas could be born. Ed and Cathleen were also keen to provide Rice graduate students and post-docs with additional opportunities to interact with industry. I have benefited tremendously from my graduate education at Rice made possible by an amazing group of faculty, an open and creative learning environment, and financial support from numerous donors who support graduate research at Rice at so many levels. So, it was quite an easy decision, and a real pleasure, for Eleanor and I to support the Endowment. Education continues to open new worlds to us both, and we are looking forward to being part of IRESS as it grows.

Donor list

Mrs. Eleanor Cozier-Abdulah & Dr. Kenneth C. Abdulah ’95
Ms. Cathleen Jo Trechter ’77 & Dr. Ed K. Biegert ’74 , ’76, ’78
Dr. Cheryl B. Mifflin ’89 & Dr. Richard Mifflin ’80
Ms. Dorothy E. Ballentine ’95 & Dr. John S. Sneider ’94
Ms. Layla Unger ’00 & Mr. Michael R. Unger ’01
Dr. Kevin Biddle ’78
Dr. Martin Schuepbach ’74
John D. Jeffers ’88 and Mary Edrich
Ms. Katrina Coterill Jenkins ’91
Ms. Chingju Liu ’85
Dr. Manik Talwani, Faculty Emeritus
Dr. Cin-Ty Lee
Dr. Richard G. Gordon
Dr. Peter A. Emmet ’96