Geology Department Building New Petroleum Studies Lab; Renovating Research Center

May 31, 2006

A long-standing geology department program at Baylor University is getting a major boost forward as construction begins on a new applied petroleum studies laboratory.

This boost is possible because of the generosity by geology alumnus Dr. Ken Carlile, of Marshall, Texas, who chose to name the new lab Beaver-Brown in honor of former Baylor faculty members and professor emeriti Dr. Harold Beaver and Dr. Bill Brown.

The petroleum studies program, which averages three graduate students at any given time, has never had a dedicated space for research. Previous research work was completed in a shared laboratory, raising problems with sample contamination and inadequate space. Now, as the popularity and importance of petroleum studies increases, the lab will allow the program to grow and strengthen.

"This lab directly benefits students and faculty by providing them with a high-tech, top quality research facility," said Dr. Steve Driese, who is the geology department chair at Baylor.

The Beaver-Brown Applied Petroleum Studies Laboratory will house several work stations where Baylor graduate students and faculty researchers can use high-performance computers to analyze digitized sub-surface information. Researchers can interpret the information to create three-dimensional "drawings" of a sub-surface area that is being explored for oil or gas.

The 800-square-foot lab, which will be located inside the Baylor Sciences Building, also will house several other high-tech research tools including polarized-light microscopes that allow researchers to see what mineral grains make up a rock sample. Baylor researchers also could use the lab to conduct paleoclimate and paleoenvironment analysis. Driese said several geology faculty members are studying past global warming trends to produce models that predict future warming trends. Much of the microscopic work could be performed at the lab.

"This new lab could not be possible without major donor support," Driese said. "It is absolutely essential to the success of the geology department and we are grateful for everything we have received."

In addition to the lab, Carlile provided another considerable financial gift to renovate and refurbish the Carlile Geology Research Building, known to many at Baylor as "the annex." Both projects should be completed by the start of the fall semester.

Media contact: Frank Raczkiewicz, (254) 710-1964

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