Donald Towse

memorial grant
Grant Donald and Marjorie Towse

Research in energy minerals, the alternates to conventional petroleum, becomes more important with diminishing availability and the security concerns associated with conventional sources.

Coal, uranium and geothermal energy can fuel fixed (electrical) sources and release liquids for essential transportation energy. Geothermal becomes important in energy-poor and remote areas like the Philippines, Iceland, New Zealand, and remote Alaskan sites. Coalbed gas, sometimes previously wasted, is becoming recognized as a conventional gas resource in some areas. Oil sands, now under-utilized, constitute a major world-wide source for liquid petroleum fuels.

Research in these areas, together with remote sensing technologies, will complement present energies and alleviate shortages now and in the future both in the United States and worldwide.

About the Donors

Donald and Marjorie Towse were a part of AAPG since Don became a member in 1949. They very generously funded the endowment for the Energy Minerals Named Grant. This was later named the Donald Towse Memorial Grant.

Their geo-travels took the family from Massachusetts to Wyoming, North Dakota, California, and Brazil before they settled down to raise their six children in San Jose, California.

They were married in January 1945, after Don got back from his Pacific tour, and their first home was in San Diego during Navy service. After the war Don returned to geology studies at M.I.T. while Marjorie deferred continuing her education to start their family.

At graduation, Don started work in the oil business with Amerada Petroleum in Casper while continuing pursuit of a doctorate at M.I.T. Amerada sponsored his Ph.D. thesis work in the Powder River Basin which won him the AAPG President’s Award in 1952 for best paper in the Bulletin. Don worked with the Kaiser companies in the United States, Canada, South America, Indonesia, Brazil, Vietnam and Madagascar, and had a teaching assignment at North Dakota and UCLA. Marjorie took time to earn a master’s degree in clinical psychology and to work 10 years with juveniles in the juvenile justice system in San Jose.

Don served AAPG as a Section Delegate, on the Research and Grants-in-Aid committees and in a number of assignments with the Energy Minerals Division, culminating as president in 1989-90. He retired from the University of California’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in 1990 and had a consulting practice in San Jose. Donald F. Towse, a former EMD president and longtime active Division leader, died April 16, 2006 while snorkeling off the San Blas Islands, Panama. He was 81. Marjorie died in September 2008.

The Donald Towse Memorial Grant is awarded annually to a deserving graduate student whose research in geology is related to the occurrence and production of earth materials, except conventional oil and gas, capable of being used in energy production, and including remote sensing. The Grant is awarded through the American Association of Petroleum Geologists Grants-in-Aid program and is funded by generous endowment contributions to the AAPG Foundation from Donald and Marjorie Towse.