RICHARDSON , Texas (Aug. 23, 2004) – Dr. Janok P. Bhattacharya, professor of geosciences at The University of Texas at Dallas (UTD), has been selected the recipient of the 2005 Distinguished Educator Award by the Southwest Section of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG).
The award is given annually “in recognition of distinguished and outstanding contributions to geological education with respect to petroleum geology in the Southwest Section area,” according to the organization.
“This award is an appropriate recognition of the talent that Professor Bhattacharya brings to the classroom and to his supervision of graduate students,” said Dr. Robert J. Stern, head of UTD’s Department of Geosciences. “Janok brings great expertise and enthusiasm in equal measure to his teaching.”
Bhattacharya will accept the award at the organization’s convention next April in Fredericksburg, Tex. The 2004 Distinguished Educator Award also went to a member of the UTD Geosciences faculty – Dr. James L. Carter.
The Southwest Section of AAPG is made up of nine affiliated geological societies located in Texas and New Mexico. The section is part of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists, with 30,000 members, the largest professional society of its kind in the world.
Bhattacharya, who spent 10 years as a geologist in the oil industry, joined the UTD faculty in 1998 as part of an initiative to enhance the university’s petroleum geology research and teaching. He is an expert in sedimentology, the science that deals with the description, classification and origin of rock formed from sediment, and stratigraphy, the study of the distribution of such rock.
Bhattacharya, in conjunction with UTD’s Center for Lithospheric studies, is involved in pioneering studies for the U.S. Department of Energy into the use of ground-penetrating radar to “see” into the earth and map underground geological formations in three dimensions, a technology that could improve oilfield production efficiency.
Last December, Bhattacharya was selected by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration to help develop a science plan for a mission in 2013 to search for life on Mars. He joined 20 other geologists, engineers and astrobiologists on a steering group whose mandate is to define key scientific objectives, methods and logistics for the mission, which will investigate evidence of present or past life on Mars. He was selected for his expertise in the study of terrestrial sediments associated with lakes and seas that may contain a record of life – features that might be analogous to recent discoveries that standing bodies of water existed in the distant past on Mars.
Last spring, Bhattacharya served as technical program coordinator for the AAPG annual convention in Dallas, which drew thousands of geologists to the Dallas Convention Center. He and his colleagues on the program committee pulled together a wide-ranging technical program consisting of about 850 presentations.
Bhattacharya, a native of England who moved to Canada as a child, earned a Ph.D. degree in geology from McMaster University of Hamilton, Ontario, and a B.S. degree in geology from Memorial University of Newfoundland in St. John’s, Newfoundland.
The University of Texas at Dallas, located at the convergence of Richardson, Plano and Dallas in the heart of the complex of major multinational technology corporations known as the Telecom Corridor®, enrolls about 14,000 students. The school’s freshman class traditionally stands at the forefront of Texas state universities in terms of average SAT scores. The university offers a broad assortment of bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs. For additional information about UTD, please visit the university’s web site at www.utdallas.edu.