College of Science

EES receives $300K commitment for master's research

Master’s studies in the Department of Earth and Environmental Science are receiving a significant boost with the donation of $300,000 by Pioneer Natural Resources Co., an Irving-based oil and gas firm.

The donation is the largest cash gift in the history of the department and will be disbursed in three annual payments of $100,000. The first payment was made in January.

“This is wonderful news for the department and for our master’s students in particular,” said Asish Basu, professor and chair of the EES department. “This generous donation will allow us to continue to improve our graduate program in the form of scholarships and research funding for master’s students. I would like to thank Pioneer Natural Resources for their generous donation and their commitment to science education in the North Texas area.”

The partnership was formed last year, when one of Basu’s students received her master’s degree and was hired by Pioneer Natural Resources. Basu - who assumed the role of department chair in January 2013 - has been reaching out to area businesses about the opportunity to become involved in geoscience education by funding scholarships and research stipends.

“This is something which will benefit everyone, because the donation will enable us to train students who will be highly qualified when they receive their degrees, and that will in turn provide ready access to strong job candidates for businesses here in the Metroplex,” Basu said.

Dean of Science Pamela Jansma, a geoscientist whose research interests include microplate tectonics and strain partitioning, hailed the contribution as exactly the kind of academic-corporate partnership the College of Science and the University want to foster.

“We’re very excited by this generous donation from Pioneer Natural Resources and by what it will mean to our master’s students in earth and environmental science,” Jansma said. “These funds will enable our students
to spend less time finding ways to finance their education and more time on doing innovative research and becoming leaders of the next generation of geoscientists.”

Louis Goldstein, Pioneer Natural Resources vice president of corporate geoscience, said the move benefits everyone by helping students pay for the instruction they receive and the research they conduct in order to earn their degrees, which in turn provides a pool of young, talented geoscientists who will make ideal job candidates for industries which are in need of that talent.

“The universities of today provide the technical and scientific talent which are essential to our resource and environmental industries of tomorrow,” Goldstein said. “Partnerships between industry and higher education are essential to reach the goal of maintaining global leadership in the geosciences that are key to both managing our energy resources and preserving our environment.
“Pioneer’s contribution of $300,000 to the UTA Department of Earth and Environmental Science is intended to advance this partnership. We are committed to support Professor Basu’s vision of continuing to build a program that provides Tier One-caliber graduates to the resource and environmental sectors.”

The January check signing was attended by Jansma, Basu and UT Arlington President Vistasp Karbhari, along with Goldstein and E.G. ‘Skip’ Rhodes, Pioneer Natural Resources director of new plays and shale technology.

Pioneer Natural Resources is an independent oil and natural gas company that was formed in 1997. It has 3,900 employees and had total assets of $13.1 billion at the end of 2012.

Posted February 24, 2014