Skip to main content

UH Chapter of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG) Wildcatters Win Special Award By Sharinna Byrd


Officers of University of Houston’s chapter of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists were presented with the “Outstanding Domestic Student Chapter Award” at the AAPG 101st Annual Convention and Exhibition in Salt Lake City in May. AAPG has more than 245 student chapters world-wide.

Lucia Torrado, a geology graduate student and secretary of the UH chapter accepted the award.

“The AAPG has an annual convention and exhibition, and that’s where we showcase our department,” Torrado said. “There are hundreds of student chapters in the U.S., but this is the first time UH has received this honor, so we were really happy and excited that our hard work was recognized. It’s history.”

Eric Lunn, vice president of the UH AAPG Wildcatters and a graduate student in geology, wasn’t able to attend the student awards ceremony but said the honor will benefit student members.

“The recognition is great for the department and the university, but also for ourselves,” Lunn said, adding that it could add more value to the students’ degrees.

The AAPG Wildcatters is open to geology and geophysics students, or any students interested in the oil and gas industry.

“The benefit is just being exposed to people in the industry,” said Lunn. “We can acquire skills that we know are going to be useful in the oil and gas industry, based on meeting with people that have been very successful in the industry. It’s a unique learning experience.”

“We provide a good link between academia and the oil industry,” Lunn said. “It allows us to interact with professionals that we normally wouldn’t have access to.”

This past year, the Wildcatters have worked hard on making the organization open to students from a variety of backgrounds.

“The officers are graduate students, but we’re very inclusive as far as having everybody involved, so the members can be undergraduate as well as graduate students,” Torrado said. “We have a lot of people from different backgrounds participating in our activities. We’re very open to everyone.”

The Wildcatters attributes their success to strong communication and team work.

“It was just really effective communication that was probably the key to making our event successful and getting noticed,” Lunn said. “We worked well as a team.”

“I think a lot has to do with organizational skills within the group and communication because at the end of the day, you’re also going to use that in your job,” Torrado said.

For the Wildcatters, this year has been full of hard work and technical learning sessions, but full of fun, as well.

“We’ve had short courses,” Torrado said. “We also had technical talks, like lunch and learns.”

 A panel featuring people who completed internships in geology and geophysics last summer offered insight and advice, she said, including tips on technical skills and soft skills.

“We have a holiday party every year, where we get the whole department together and everyone’s invited,” Lunn said. “It’s basically a social gathering to get more interconnected through the department.”

Torrado and Lunn credit their ambition to childhood influences.

“My grandfather, he’s a topographer and taught me how to read maps when I was four years old. He definitely was an influence. My dad is not a geologist, but he worked for Shell for 30 plus years. He was the guy who fixed the geologists’ computers,” Torrado said. “He would take me to his office, and I would hang out with the geologists because they had colored pencils.”

Lunn came from a family of engineers.

“I majored in engineering because that was what I was used to,” he said.  “Essentially, that’s what I was interested in. After my first semester, I actually took the Intro to Geology course at my undergraduate university back in Massachusetts, and I just fell in love.”

“My undergrad institution was not so much focused on oil, but it provided the skills and it had the interest there for oil,” Lunn said, “That’s what kind of led me to become a geologist. The University of Houston is big in oil.”

Nevertheless, winning the award came as a surprise to the Wildcatters.

“We knew we were going to get something, but we never expected to get this,” Torrado said.

For more information or to get involved with the AAPG Wildcatters, visit their website at or visit their Facebook at AAPG Wildcatters.