2010 Awards - Full Citations
On March 26, 2010, Donald McKay, Director of the Illinois State Geological Survey (ISGS), presented awards to 23 individuals and one company for outstanding contributions to the ISGS for the benefit of the people of Illinois. The award ceremony was part of the Survey's annual State of the Survey event. Beverly Herzog, chair of the awards committee, read the citations.
The 2009 ISGS Awards Committee members were Beverly Herzog (Chair), Daniel Adomaitis, Anne Huber, Hue-Hwa Hwang, Hannes Leetaru, and Alan Metcalf.
The Outstanding Advocate Award recognizes individuals or companies that have been strong advocates of the Survey or particular Survey programs in public arenas. This year, the award goes to the Barrington Area Council of Governments (BACOG), led by Executive Director Janet Agnoletti. For more than a decade, BACOG has supported ISGS programs serving the state, especially northeastern Illinois. BACOG has promoted geologic mapping and groundwater resource studies to state and federal legislators through letters written on behalf of its members. The direct interventions have introduced and promoted the Survey's work to a number of local governments that have an interest in sustainable development of groundwater and natural resources.
Agnoletti has explained and advocated Survey programs to governmental bodies and arranged for seminars and informational meetings for several years. These interventions have enabled Survey scientists to gain access to numerous public lands for downhole geophysical logging of private and public wells, drilling borings for sampling, and installing monitoring wells.
Most recently, BACOG has helped in promoting the Illinois Height Modernization Program. The personal contacts of Janet Agnoletti and BACOG have encouraged support among area legislators and congressional representatives of ISGS programs. This award recognizes BACOG's continued advocacy as a partner in the study of the sustainable use of Illinois' natural resources for commercial, industrial, and personal purposes.
The Barrington Area Council of Governments received a plaque that reads, "Outstanding Advocate: Barrington Area Council of Governments, in appreciation of your advocacy for ISGS programs in geologic mapping, groundwater resources, and height modernization for the benefit of the ISGS and the people of Illinois."
Outstanding External Cooperator
Alan Shoemaker, Manager of the Tuscola Stone Company, received this award for significant contributions to, and support of, Survey Programs. During August 2009, Shoemaker provided the ISGS and Pioneer Productions with a venue for filming part of an episode about the glaciation of North America for the History Channel's series "How the Earth Was Made."
Tuscola Stone Company's quarry was one of four Illinois filming locations. Shoemaker provided quarry access and accommodated three ISGS staff members and four film crew members for a day. He spent most of the day with the group, staying late so the crew could film for a few hours after the quarry closed. Shoemaker monitored the advance of a severe thunderstorm and notified staff about the timing of the approaching storm.
Shoemaker scheduled a rock blast for filming, arranged for an excavator to dig and expose glacial deposits for the camera, catered lunch on site for ISGS staff and the film crew, provided a shelter for lunch, and, above all, ensured a safe working environment.
Shoemaker received a plaque that reads, "Outstanding ISGS Cooperator: Alan Shoemaker, with appreciation for your time, equipment, and access to the Tuscola Stone Quarry in support of ISGS field trips, geologic mapping, and filming for the History Channel series "How the Earth Was Made" for the benefit of the people of Illinois."
The second recipient is Dr. Christopher Pearson, the National Geodetic Survey's Illinois State Geodetic Advisor. Since 2001, Pearson has worked with the ISGS on mapping projects of all kinds and addressed and organized seminars and short courses on geodesy, datums, GPS surveying, and earth deformation at the ISGS, ILGISA (Illinois GIS Association), Illinois Professional Land Surveyors Association, and at several campus departments. Many Survey staff have benefited from those talks and short courses.
Pearson promoted the transfer of outdated GPS receivers from the Office of Water Resources and Illinois Department of Transportation to the ISGS for use in fledgling surveying programs. Some of those units are still in use by the ISGS and its research partners. Some of his most helpful work, however, has been in working personally with many scientists, engineers, geographers, and GIS professionals among the Surveys in the Institute for Natural Resource Sustainability to improve understanding of datums and GPS processing and the use of geodesy as part of mapping and surveying. In this capacity, Pearson has been a valued adjunct research associate at the ISGS for several years
Notably, Pearson also promoted the National Geodetic Survey's Height Modernization Program and convinced the ISGS to take the lead in this program for Illinois. Thanks to that encouragement, the program has become very visible in both the state and the nation. Funding for the first three years of about $1.8 million was obtained through the support of two area congressmen as a line item in the federal budget. The program adds reference marks to replace those lost over the past decades and adds new markers, will reconcile the numerous datums used statewide, and is acquiring LIDAR imagery on a modern datum for several topographic uses including geologic mapping. Pearson's leadership in developing the program for the 2009 Height Modernization Forum led to it being one of the most successful meetings of its kind nationally to date. Those who have worked with Pearson have come to enjoy his humor, insight, and enthusiasm for geodesy and geophysics.
Pearson received a plaque that reads, "Outstanding ISGS Cooperator: Christopher Pearson, Ph.D., in appreciation of your time, expertise, and enthusiasm in support of the ISGS mapping program and the Height Modernization Program for the benefit of the people of Illinois."
Outstanding Alumni Contributions
Individuals who have retired from the ISGS but who have continued to make significant contributions to the Survey may be recognized with an Outstanding Alumni Contributions Award. Such contributions might include significant collaboration on research projects, provision of support services, contributions to outreach efforts, or advocacy in the public arena. This year's recipient is Richard Cahill, who retired in 2008 after more than 33 years, and who continues to serve the ISGS after his retirement.
A "utility infielder of geochemistry," Cahill has published investigations on topics as diverse as coal, petroleum, radioactivity of rock and sediments, radon occurrence in Illinois, wastes of all kinds including compost, and wetlands for a multitude of projects including the Long-Term Ecological Research Program. No stranger to field work, Cahill routinely served as a "field hand" in collecting cores on the Illinois River that were sampled for all types of analyses. He is regularly consulted on vibracoring, especially for ponds and streams. He has been recognized inside and outside of the ISGS and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources for his services and expert opinion in scientific investigations and reviews of technical documents, including those in politically sensitive areas such as CERCLA (Superfund) sites. He also is recognized as an expert on the Illinois River, including sediment deposition and occurrence, geochemistry of contaminants, and history. Before his retirement, he was an active member of the ISGS Safety Committee and ensured that the chemicals in the Geochemistry Section were current or disposed of properly when he retired. He continues to be active in this safety activity.
Cahill also continues to contribute to Survey programs. He can generally be found working in his laboratory or consulting with colleagues on geochemical problems. He continues his research on the Illinois River and helps other researchers on their projects, especially those without funding. He currently is analyzing trace elements in coal balls for fellow retiree Philip DeMaris. Cahill is among the most active researchers among our retired staff members. He received a plaque that reads, "Outstanding ISGS Alumni Contributions: Richard A. Cahill, in appreciation of your post-retirement dedication to the ISGS through your ongoing contributions to the Geochemistry Section."
Distinguished Achievement Award
Three individuals received this award in recognition of their outstanding achievements.
With nearly twenty years of professional work experience, Daniel Nelson has consistently made, and continues to make, high-quality contributions to the ISGS. His current role as the GIS Database Administrator involves preservation and long-term management of the Survey's vast scientific GIS database holdings. During the last several years, he has made considerable progress and has successfully transformed the GIS database environment into an increasingly robust and more efficient operation.
Nelson's efforts on the Illinois National Resources Geospatial Data Clearinghouse and in database management have brought considerable recognition to the ISGS. In 2001, Nelson was part of a team processing new Digital Orthophoto Quads (DOQs) for the entire state. This innovative project was used as a template for integration of large raster datasets to the dynamic ISGS database. Its successful completion served as a model to secure numerous externally funded projects for the Illinois Clearinghouse.
The Illinois Clearinghouse continues to be an important resource for anyone working with GIS and remote sensing technology in Illinois. By providing easy access to a substantial amount of data, the Clearinghouse is recognized throughout the country as the key Web site for Illinois digital data. Colleagues outside the ISGS continue to comment about the effectiveness of the Illinois Clearinghouse and associate the Illinois Clearinghouse with the ISGS.
As a geologist and database expert who has worked at the ISGS for many years, Nelson is extremely familiar with the Survey's mission, goals, and objectives. His work is a reflection of goals and objectives that are identified by the ISGS Strategic Plan, and he has single-handedly raised the bar for cohesive GIS database management.
Nelson's plaque reads, "Distinguished Achievement Award: Daniel Nelson, in recognition of your dedication and outstanding contributions in the areas of GIS, database development and management, and the Illinois Natural Resources Geospatial Data Clearinghouse for the benefit of the ISGS and the people of Illinois." In addition to his plaque, Nelson received a monetary award to be used for work-related purposes.
Our second recipient is Torie Strole, who was nominated for her outstanding work on grants and contracts. Her nominator wrote that "this award is long overdue." For the past year, Strole has been really put to the test. Her only office partner was first out on maternity leave and then took another job on campus, leaving Strole with the work of two people. Strole reviews the monetary and completion aspects of all proposals, manages subcontracts, and handles all of the contract accounting, working with the University of Illinois Office of Sponsored research.
As a example, her nominator wrote of his recent experiences with her during his U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) proposal on carbon sequestration that successfully brought in $6 million to the ISGS: "I personally would not have been able to successfully navigate all of the contract requirements without her help. My grant involved working with the ISGS, Western Michigan University, the Indiana Geological Survey, the Kentucky Geological Survey, the University of Illinois Department of Geology, Schlumberger, and Brigham Young University. She was the point person [who] made certain these different groups were all giving us the proper forms and numbers and that these numbers all matched with our internal numbers. She found numerous discrepancies in the different organization submittals and their other paperwork. Most important, she read all of the DOE requirements from their RFP and found that I had missed a critical item that would have negated the proposal."
The PI also commented that, after the award announcement, "the ISGS is now going though the post award requests from DOE. She was a tremendous help in working through a multiple layered Excel workbook. All of the different spreadsheets were linked together. There were nine different spreadsheets that had to all internally match with each other. She was able to take my original numbers and make everything fit."
This type of praise has been heard by many investigators over the years. Strole is a pleasure to work with and does not get upset by the numerous interruptions from staff members who are working on proposals or managing project funds—even with her added workload.
Strole's plaque reads, "Distinguished Achievement Award: Torie Strole, in recognition of your outstanding work in submission and management of contracts and grants for the benefit of the people of Illinois." In addition to her plaque, Torie received a monetary award to be used for work-related purposes.
Hong Wang was recognized for his outstanding contributions to the ISGS's reputation in both his research and services. Wang recently established the ISGS Optical Stimulated Luminescence (OSL) Laboratory, which is an important milestone for the ISGS and the Institute. The OSL dating range extends up to approximately 250,000 years, which far exceeds that of radiocarbon dating. Wang recognized the importance of OSL and pursued the concept. He contacted the right people and learned what was necessary to set up the laboratory, purchased an instrument, and brought the laboratory to reality this year. This important accomplishment will greatly benefit research in areas such as Quaternary geology, paleoclimate investigations, earthquake hazards, and archeology and opens up new possibilities for research. The OSL Laboratory also utilizes the radiochemistry laboratory and expertise, which were already established but underutilized. Colleagues at the ISGS and the University of Illinois have already started contacting Hong Wang about using the laboratory. The potential for growth in this field is great, as exemplified by the current demand for OSL dates.
During the past few years, Wang has become the Director of the ISGS Radiocarbon Laboratory and taken over all the responsibilities that go along with supervising the laboratory: calculating, verifying, and reporting results and billing for the services rendered. Running a service laboratory is very time-consuming and involves continuous efforts in supervision, paperwork completion, handling questions, discussing results, and improving processes and methods. In addition to these major accomplishments, Wang has pursued his own research interests by applying novel approaches to studying paleoclimate and loess deposits in Illinois. Wang works very hard and is dedicated to the research and services he provides.
Wang's plaque reads, "Distinguished Achievement Award: Hong Wang, Ph.D., in recognition of contributions in radiocarbon dating and the establishment of an Optical Stimulated Luminescence Laboratory at the ISGS for the benefit of the people of Illinois." In addition to his plaque, Wang also received a monetary award to be used for work-related purposes.
Lifetime Achievement Award
Ivan Krapac was honored in appreciation for his many years of outstanding research contributions. Materials submitted with his nomination included letters from Krapac's ISGS peers, University of Illinois peers, and former students. Krapac joined the ISGS Geochemistry Section in January 1980. In 2005, he was asked to lead the environmental monitoring portion of the carbon sequestration program. This project brings him almost full circle to where he started his career, which was to study energy waste. At that time, the project was leaching characteristics of coal cleaning wastes. His first project as principal investigator was on the same topic. He then conducted a study to develop a methodology for conducting adsorption studies in the laboratory. This study resulted in a Technical Resource Document for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that is still in use. Krapac's research has evolved with societal needs. He has studied the movement of water and tracers through a compacted earth liner and, when the national focus shifted to agricultural chemicals, he studied the fate and transport of pesticides at retail agrichemical facilities. That work led to an interest in the occurrence and distribution of contaminants at Illinois livestock confinement facilities. The contaminant list grew to include viruses, bacteria, and antibiotics in groundwater—areas that are still hot topics today.
Krapac is one of those rare individuals who are at home in both the lab and field. One nominator noted, "When he's a project leader, you can be assured that the research efforts will be focused, well organized, all deadlines will be met, and it will be highly successful". He is the most detailed researcher and one of the most dedicated and hard-working scientists I have ever met." Krapac is also a humble and modest scientist who shares his accomplishments selflessly with his peers and always responds to requests for assistance.
In recognition of his scientific leadership, Krapac was named head of the Geochemistry Section in 2008. A staff member there wrote that "he constantly seeks to improve the diversity and quality of the research of his section and has high expectations of himself and his staff." The section has grown in size and capability under Krapac's leadership.
Krapac's plaque reads, "Lifetime Achievement Award: Ivan Krapac, in recognition of your thirty years of innovative geochemical research in the areas of agricultural contamination of groundwater and monitoring of carbon sequestration for the benefit of the people of Illinois." In addition to his plaque, Krapac received a monetary award to be used for work-related purposes.
Special Achievement by a Team
The Sorbent Activation Process (SAP) Team members are Francois Botha, ICCI; Ramsay Chang, EPRI; Xu Chen, ISGS; Tim Ebner, Apogee Scientific; Kevin Fisher, Apogee Scientific; Hong Lu, ISGS; Yongqi Lu, ISGS; Richard Morrical, Maxwell Engineering; George Mues, Ameren; Massoud Rostam-Abadi, ISGS; David Ruhter, ISGS; Steve Long, Ameren; Cassie Shaban, EPRI; Mark Chilton, Heat Transfer Specialists; and Richard Slye, Apogee Scientific
The SAP team worked tirelessly and under very difficult conditions in 2008 and 2009 to design, fabricate, and successfully test a pilot-scale SAP unit for on-site production of activated carbon for mercury emission control at Ameren's Meredosia coal-fired power plant. This state-of-the-art patented technology was jointly developed by ISGS and EPRI in 2001. ISGS engineers conducted proof-of-concept studies of SAP in 2005-2007 and scaled up to a pilot unit because of utilities' interest in the technology's commercial development.
The team members were selected for their expertise and their dedication to advancing this technology to a commercial level in a very short time. Because of the project's high visibility and short deadline, the team understood that failure was not an option and that there was no margin for error. In less than 10 months, the team designed, fabricated, and assembled the pilot SAP unit at the Meredosia power plant. They then successfully performed shake down and optimization tests and sorbent production tests. The project was a huge success. The team was able to demonstrate that, using the SAP technology, the cost of mercury emission control from coal-fired power plants would be at least 50% lower than with available commercial processes.
The spirit of teamwork, dedication to the project, individual responsibility, working at 110% level 24/7 (even at 15°F temperature), and the high degree of professionalism were some of the reasons for successful completion of this project in less than 12 months. Normally such a sophisticated engineering project would require a minimum of two years to complete. The SAP unit is currently being tested at the Hennepin power plant, and the results are extremely encouraging. But the most rewarding aspect of the project was that the SAP team felt this project was fun.
The team members each get a framed certificate that reads, "Special Achievement by a Team: Sorbent Activation Process Team in recognition of your outstanding contributions in designing, fabricating, and successfully testing a pilot-scale unit for on-site production of activated carbon to control mercury emissions at a coal-fired power plant for the benefit of the people of Illinois." The ISGS staff members on the team also will have lunch or dinner with the ISGS Director.
Outstanding New Staff Member
To be eligible for this award, a staff member must have worked at the ISGS less than 3 years. This year's recipient, Mary Seid, received multiple nominations.
Seid is an incredibly efficient and highly focused individual who produces high-caliber geologic maps. Seid is detail oriented, manages her time well and finishes her products ahead of deadline. She has displayed extraordinary skill in accomplishing tasks such as finding and justifying drill-hole locations and doing the land work to drill—in a mere four hours. In just 2½ years, Seid has been the lead author on five geologic maps and the second author on a sixth map.
Seid has conducted outreach for the ISGS during Stewardship Week at Dixon Springs Agriculture Center for 3 years, speaking with approximately 3,000 grade school children from 14 counties in southern Illinois about volcanoes, rocks, and minerals. She helped the southern field office personnel with the Carterville Rock and Mineral shows on weekends, talked to earth science teachers at Giant City State Park, and gave a talk, "Women in Science," to the High School Earth Science Teachers of Illinois. She has helped staff ISGS field trips and the Institute of Natural Resource Sustainability's Naturally Illinois Expo. She communicates with the Illinois Geologic Mapping Committee. Look team player up in the dictionary, and you should find a photograph of Mary Seid.
Seid attended the First World Young Earth Scientists Congress (YES Congress) in Beijing, China, during October 2009, providing the ISGS and USA with international representation. She presented a poster and moderated one of the roundtable sessions. The moderator responsibility allowed Seid to receive funding for the trip from the Geological Society of America. Seid continues to be active with the YES group.
With new staff members like Seid, the future of the Survey is in great shape. For these reasons and more, Seid received a plaque that reads, "Outstanding New Staff Member: Mary Seid, in recognition of your outstanding contributions to the ISGS geologic mapping program through your enthusiasm, creativity, efficiency, and attention to detail for the benefit of the people of Illinois." In addition to her plaque, Seid will receive a monetary award to be used for work-related purposes.
Outstanding Contribution to Survey Safety
The ISGS Safety Award is to be given to an individual or team for "innovative, creative contributions to safety and achievement in safety which bring significant benefit to the Survey." This year's honoree is David Ruhter, who began work at the ISGS in 2007, collecting and preparing samples under the direction of project principal investigators (PIs). He continues assisting PIs at the Applied Research Lab (ARL) with sample collection, preparation, and analyses. He has also taken on the seemingly overwhelming tasks of reducing the amount of excess chemicals and equipment at the ARL. Continuing with efforts begun by Kathy Henry and later facilitated by Safety Committee member Seyed Dastgheib, Ruhter worked with the University of Illinois Division of Research Safety to properly remove outdated and unnecessary chemicals as well as research materials that were no longer needed. These materials included coal, ash, water, char, and activated carbon. Additionally, Ruhter identified outmoded or unneeded equipment and furniture and worked with inventory control personnel to have it sent to surplus or scrapped, making the ARL a safer and more comfortable place to work.
Ruhter's name is engraved in a plaque on display in the foyer of the Natural Resources Building. The plaque reads, "In recognition of efforts made to ensure a safe working environment at the Survey."
Updated 05/24/2011 SLD