36th Annual EAS Student Research Conference Held On April 28

Event Student-Led Since Its Founding in 1988

Each year, a new group of Department of Earth & Atmospheric Sciences (EAS) student volunteers organize and plan the annual EAS Student Research Conference (SRC) at the University of Houston. The first SRC was held in 1988.

The event is designed for students to obtain experience in organizing a conference, practice their presentations skills, and share their research with faculty, EAS alumni, and industry experts.

This year's event returned to the traditional in-person mode for the first time since the COVID pandemic in 2020. In-person attendance was approximately 100 persons, including members of the EAS department, EAS alumni, and visitors from Houston-based oil and environmental industries.

There were 20 oral presentations and 21 poster presentations by EAS graduate and undergraduate students in the fields of geology, geophysics, and atmospheric science. A team of 19 EAS faculty, EAS alumni, and industry experts judged the talks and posters.

Dr. James Flynn, research associate professor of atmospheric sciences, gave a keynote talk; he was recently named a Senior Member of the National Academy of Inventors (NAI). His 30-minute talk was entitled “Preliminary Results from Recent Houston Air Quality Studies and What Comes Next?”

The 2023 abstracts and conference program, along with information on conferences in past years, can be viewed on the conference webpage.

Special thanks go to the UH College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics for their generous, financial contributions to this event.

Meeting Organizers

  • Thishan Karandana (Conference Chair)
  • Tabitha Lee (Conference Co-Chair)
  • Mahsa Payami (Logistics and Content Creator)
  • Sagun Gopal Kayastha (Logistics and Content Creator)
  • Steven Ramirez (NSM-IT Liaison)
  • Linda Kitonge (Oral and Poster Session Host)
  • Alina Salinas (Oral and Poster Session Host)
  • Dr. Yuxuan Wang (EAS Faculty Advisor)

EAS Outstanding Alumni Award

The UH Earth and Atmospheric Sciences Outstanding Alumni Award recognizes and honors a UH alumni for their contributions to science, education, scholarship, service (within and/or outside UH), entrepreneurship, and/or outreach. The award, presented annually, highlights the accomplishments of UH EAS alumni and serves as inspiration for recruiting efforts, alumni pride, and an overall increase in visibility and engagement.

The 2022-2023 EAS Outstanding Alumni Award recognized the 10 EAS alumni listed below who made up the two, five-student, world championship, AAPG Imperial Barrel Award (IBA) teams. Both EAS teams competed against over 100 teams in a regional and worldwide competition to achieve this recognition.

Members of the 2017 IBA World Champion Team: Eric Lunn (captain – now with ConocoPhillips, Midland, TX); Leiser Silva (now Ph.D. student, Colorado School of Mines, Boulder, CO); Walter Reed (now with LPL Finance, San Angelo, TX); Delaney Robinson (now with U.S. Dept of Agriculture, Dallas); and Andrew Steier (now with TotalEnergies, Houston)

IBA World Champion Team
2017 Team (from left): Andrew Steier, Walter Reed, Leiser Silva, Tom Lapen (EAS chair), Eric Lunn, Delaney Robinson, Julian Chenin and David Lankford-Bravo (co-chairmen of the EAS Alumni group)

Members of the 2019 IBA World Champion Team: Aydin Shahtakhtinskiy (captain – now with BP, Houston); Andrew Stearns (now with TGS, Houston); Spencer Fuston (now with Oxy, Houston); Jacob Miller (now with BP, Houston); and Patrick Chandler (now with Oxy, Houston)

IBA World Champion Team
2019 Team (from left): Aydin Shahtakhtinskiy, Jacob Miller, Tom Lapen, Patrick Chandler, J. Chenin and D. Lankford-Bravo. Not present from 2019 team are Spencer Fuston and Andrew Stearns.

EAS Student Presentation Awards

Student Presentation Award Winners
Top row, from left: Boming Wu, Juan Pablo Ramos Vargas, Michael Comas, Kenneth Shipper, Nina Zamanialavijeh. Bottom row from left: Mahsa Payami, Nima Khorshidian, Julia Villafranca, Faith Walton, Leo Collier

Advanced Ph.D. Student Talks

First Place ($850 prize): Boming Wu
Convolutional neural network-assisted, least-squares migration

Second Place ($500 prize): Juan Pablo Ramos Vargas
Crustal structure of the Colombian basin and significance for Caribbean tectonic history and its hydrocarbon potential

Third Place ($300 prize): Michael Comas
Sedimentary Record of Recent Retreat of Pine Island Glacier, Amundsen Sea, Antarctica

Graduate Student Posters

First Place ($400 prize): Kenneth Shipper
Basin modeling based on crustal structure reveals productive hydrocarbon trends along the Guyana-Suriname rifted-passive margin

Second Place ($300 prize): Nina Zamanialavijeh
Thermal decomposition, coseismic and inter seismic microstructures of carbonate fault rocks: Insights from Hegben Lake earthquake rupture, Montana

Third Place ($300 prize): Mahsa Payami
A 1D CNN-based digital twin for CMAQ: Predicting NO2 concentration over the most populated cores in Texas

M.S. and First-Year Ph.D. Student Talks

First Place - tie ($500 prize): Nima Khorshidian
Cloud formation and precipitation over Texas: Improving model simulations using observation nudging and detailed microphysics

First Place - tie ($500 prize): Julia Villafranca
Sediment deposition as a function of Holocene glacier retreat, Amundsen Sea, Antarctica

Undergraduate Student Talks

First Place ($350 prize): Faith Walton
Structural restoration and driving forces for the Oligocene-Recent opening of the Gulf of California

Undergraduate Student Posters

First Place ($250 prize): Leo Collier
Barringer Crater: Recreating Anomalous Impact Morphology through Sandbox Modelling

Special Thanks to the Judging Panel

A special thanks to our EAS faculty judging coordinator, Dr. Daniel Hauptvogel, and the distinguished panel of 19 EAS faculty, alumni and industry judges who volunteered their time and expertise to judge the student oral presentations.

Eleven EAS Faculty Judges

Yingcai Zheng, William Sager, Emily Beverly, Peter Copeland, Yunsoo Choi, Bernhard Rappenglueck, Julia Wellner, Robert Stewart, Honghai Zhang, Brandee Carlson, and Jinny Sisson

Eight Industry and EAS Alumni Judges

Mark Richardson (ExxonMobil - retired), Kristie McLin (ConocoPhillips), Ye Wang (ConocoPhillips), Shawn Wright (Hess, EAS alum), Klaas Koster (Occidental), Sanja Knezevic Antonijevic (Occidental), Fernando Castillo (bpX Energy), and Chinaemerem Kanu (JASCO Applied Sciences)