The American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG) Foundation has named Lauren Birgenheier as the recipient of the 2018 Inspirational Geoscience Educator Award (IGEA). Birgenheier is an assistant professor in the geology and geophysics department at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City.
The honor is one of two Excellence in Teaching awards presented each year by the AAPG Foundation to a college or university professor who has demonstrated professorial excellence and outstanding academic leadership and works to mentor and inspire future geoscientists in their higher education courses. The Teacher of the Year award is presented to recognize a K-12 teacher within the United States who has demonstrated outstanding leadership in the field of geoscience education.
“I am honored to receive this Inspirational Geoscience Educator Award,” said Birgenheirer. “I am deeply grateful for the creative, bright, and thoughtful graduate students I advise and mentor. It is truly the most rewarding part of my job.”
Birgenheier has led students on multi-disciplinary research projects in the Mancos Shale (Uinta, Piceance and San Juan), Green River Formation (Uinta Basin), Wolfcamp Shale (Permian Basin) and Agrio Formation (Neuquén Basin, Argentina). As faculty advisor, she led her University of Utah student team to an AAPG Imperial Barrel Award win in 2013, as well as second place in the Rocky Mountain section in 2015 and 2017. Birgenheier says that teaching brings “a great deal of satisfaction in designing and helping graduate students carry out research to help answer a small piece of a relevant societal question – ‘How will we meet energy needs and address climate change today and into the future, particularly in the context of a planet that will likely be populated with 10 billion people by 2050?’” She will also serve as Technical Program chair at this year’s 2018 AAPG Annual Convention and Exhibition (ACE), held in May, in Salt Lake City.
Birgenheier will be presented with her award at this year’s ACE. The award includes a beautiful commemorative plaque and a cash prize of $6,000.
The AAPG Foundation was established in 1967 with the primary goal of providing a source of funding for educational, charitable and scientific objectives, which directly and indirectly benefit the geoscience profession and the general public. The Inspirational Geoscience Educator Award (formerly known as the Professorial Award) honors that intention by giving this accolade to the heart of geoscience educational initiatives in higher education inspiring and motivating students in their pursuit of geological careers. The IGEA began in 2012 and has since honored seven outstanding geoscience professors.