Robert E. Sheriff Lecture - University of Houston
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Robert E. Sheriff Lecture

  1. Maximum of 40 students allowed to present posters.
  2. Poster Abstract Submission: 
  3. Students not presenting posters: need to register with HGS

The categories will be:

  • Undergraduate & 1st year MS students
  • Advanced MS students & 1st year PhDs
  • Advanced PhD students

Award Amounts:

  • To be announced

A blockbuster evening! The 25th Annual Robert E. Sheriff Lecture

Sheriff Lecture - Program Highlights
Monday, November 13
Norris Conference Center • 816 Town and Country Blvd #210
Social Hour and poster viewing 5:30–6:30 PM
Dinner 6:30–7:30 PM, Presentations 7:30- 9:00 PM
Not one, but two thrilling talks about geoscience exploration and discovery!

Twenty Years of Exploration and Discoveries Using Airborne Laser Mapping: Contributions to the Archaeology of North and Central America.
Dr. Juan Carlos Fernandez-Diaz, University of Houston

 juan carlos

The National Center for Airborne Laser Mapping (NCALM), the University of Houston (UH), and collaborators are making exciting discoveries of hidden surface features using drones and airborne light detection and ranging (LIDAR) methods. LIDAR can map 3-dimensional forms of the ground and archaeological sites by penetrating vegetation. Our first speaker is Dr. Juan Carlos Fernandez-Diaz, Research Assistant Professor at UH, and Co-Investigator for NCALM. He and partners have discovered a lost Maya city deep in the jungles of Campeche, on the Yucatan Peninsula, in Mexico. Among the findings were several 50-foot-tall pyramid-like structures that date the city to the Late Classic period, between the years 600 and 800 AD. Through the analysis of airborne LIDAR, an international team of researchers identified 478 ceremonial centers in the Mexican states of Tabasco and Veracruz. A new buried city was discovered, now dubbed Ocomtún, or stone column in Maya. These discoveries are transforming scholars’ understanding of the origins of Mesoamerican civilizations, particularly the relation between Olmec and Maya cultures. NCALM has been based at UH since 2010, and operates jointly with the University of California at Berkeley.

Dr. Juan Carlos Fernandez-Diaz is a Research Assistant Professor in the University of Houston’s Civil and Environmental Engineering Department, a co-investigator for the National Center for Airborne Laser Mapping (NCALM), and is part of the 2023-25 cohort for the American Geophysical Union (AGU) LANDInG Academy Fellows. Fernandez-Diaz joined UH in 2010 as a senior researcher after earning his doctorate in Geosensing Systems Engineering from the University of Florida. He became a Research Assistant professor in 2019.

The Habitat of Giant Fields in the Gulf of Mexico: Geology, Geophysics, Digital Technology: Are There More Giants to be Found?

Dr. Charles Sternbach, Star Creek Energy & Adjunct Professor, University of Houston. Co-author: Richard S. Bishop

charles sternbach

The US and Mexico's Onshore and Offshore Gulf Coast basins have long been proving grounds for discovering giant oil and gas fields. This province boasts prolific Cenozoic and Mesozoic petroleum systems and an extensive infrastructure that makes this collection of Super Basins also an economically "Advantaged Basin." This talk will explore examples of widely differing giant fields and discuss the technology and insights that might enable us to find more oil resources. Questions to be addressed in this presentation:

  1. The Super Basin Thinking Toolkit
  2. "Seven Habits of Highly Creative Energy Geoscientists"
  3. What can we learn from studying the global Giant Fields database?
  4. Why are Cretaceous (and Miocene) Giant Fields Larger than everything else?
  5. Why are Gulf Coast Giant and Super Giant Fields liquid-rich?
  6. What are Gulf Coast Giant Fields' structural styles, limiting factors, and habitats?
  7. How is the Discovery of Giant Fields linked to Technology and G&G Integration, and what do their trends suggest for the future?

Charles earned an MS and Ph.D. in geology from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and a BA in geology from Columbia University. Charles was appointed Research Professor at the University of Houston. Charles A. Sternbach started as a geologist for Shell Oil Company, and then became an Exploration Manager for Tom Jordan (Jordan Oil and Gas), and President of First Place Energy (International Frontier Exploration). He is currently President of Star Creek Energy (since 2004). Charles has created and organized AAPG and HGS programs on exploration for 25 years. Sternbach was recently awarded the AAPG Halbouty Award for 2024 and is a past president of both AAPG and HGS.


Please visit the HGS website to register.

HGS Registration ends at 5 am on 11/13/23.

Sheriff Lecture Committee

Rob Stewart (chair), Linda Sternbach, Paul Mann, and Jiajia Sun.

Judges Needed for Poster Session

We invite interested professionals willing to serve as virtual poster judges to contact Linda Sternbach at