KU scientist receives honorary membership award from international organization
LAWRENCE — Evan Franseen, professor of geology at the University of Kansas, senior scientific fellow at the Kansas Geological Survey and co-director of the Kansas Interdisciplinary Carbonates Consortium, is the recipient of the 2023 Honorary Membership Award from SEPM, the Society for Sedimentary Geology, for “excellence in professional achievement and extraordinary service to the Society.”
SEPM is the largest and one of the oldest international societies in the field of sedimentary geology.
“I’ve been involved in SEPM since 1983 and served in many roles for SEPM throughout my career. I’ve enjoyed all of it and, importantly, SEPM has provided me with so much,” Franseen said. “My involvement in SEPM has been one of the most important and rewarding aspects of my career, so receiving this award is really special.”
Franseen, a sedimentary geologist and stratigrapher who has been with the University of Kansas for nearly 35 years, studies calcium carbonate rocks, such as limestone, that form important aquifers and oil and gas reservoirs and that are targets for deep underground storage of carbon dioxide. His research starts with information from the rocks and then incorporates a variety of approaches, from geophysical to computer modeling to geochemical analysis and more. The goals of the studies are to develop a better understanding of environmental processes, such as sea level and climate, that were important in how layers of rocks were deposited and changed through time.
“As a research geoscientist, I try to understand how geologic systems work and answer important scientific questions that not only advance our understanding but also have application to real world issues. I’ve been fortunate to have great research collaborators over the years, and this award is an important indication by the international peer community that the research has had some impact,” Franseen said.
Diana Ortega-Ariza, KGS assistant scientist and KU courtesy assistant professor who met Franseen as a student participant in a geology field trip, nominated him for the SEPM award.
"I have known Evan since 2008, first as a participant of his world-famous Spain field trip, then as his Ph.D. student, and now as a colleague at the KGS,” she said. “Evan is a very well-deserving recipient of this prestigious award. Thirteen experts from around the world wrote letters of support for the nomination. Their comments spoke to him being a leader in carbonate sedimentology, the important impact of his research and his longstanding record of service to SEPM. He easily meets and surpasses the criteria of ‘excellence in professional achievements and extraordinary service to the Society.’”
David Fowle, chair of the KU Department of Geology, said Franseen is known as a thoughtful mentor, patient teacher and strong colleague.
“Evan has been a leader in carbonate sedimentology internationally, nationally and within our own department,” Fowle said. “This leadership has been demonstrated through service to the profession, research and mentorship of a new generation of leaders in the field. His field trips associated with carbonate sedimentology are beloved by our students but, perhaps more importantly, well-respected by employers in the energy sector is a reason why KU students thrive in their companies.”
Throughout his career, Franseen has mentored numerous graduate students and early career scientists, including leading field trips to Spain and the Guadalupe Mountains in New Mexico and Texas for students from KU and the University of Puerto Rico–Mayaguez.
“Evan is a thoughtful and empathetic adviser and approaches mentorship holistically,” said Jennifer Roberts, vice provost for academic affairs and graduate studies at KU and professor in the geology department. “His support is student-centered, extending through research, career preparation and personal considerations for his students. Evan has an ability to meet students and early career professionals where they are, resulting in an impressive track record of students who achieve scientifically but also go on to diverse and successful careers in geoscience.”
Franseen has served SEPM in numerous leadership and committee roles, including as SEPM president, as a member of council, board member for the SEPM Foundation and in leadership roles for strategic plan initiatives. In addition, he served as editor for two SEPM books and associate editor for the SEPM journal PALAIOS.
“Through the society, I’ve met many of the world experts in sedimentary geology, including those that were the authors of important papers and books that I read as a graduate student. I was really starstruck at the beginning of my involvement in SEPM. Those experts, and all the others throughout the years, became friends and collaborators both in service to SEPM as well as endeavors outside of SEPM,” Franseen said.
Franseen has received nine “excellence of presentation” awards at national or international American Association of Petroleum Geologists and SEPM meetings as well as four acknowledgments of excellence and best paper awards for papers published in key professional journals. He holds bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and is the author of more than 200 scientific publications and reports and editor of three books related to sedimentary geology.
He will receive the SEPM honorary membership award at the Geological Society of America Annual Meeting in October in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.