Alumni | Kent State University

Ants in amberSee how our graduates are using their degrees and catch up with old friends at the Geology Alumni website, maintained by KSU alumna Merida Keatts.

Spring Banquet

Awards and Scholarships for undergraduate majors and graduate students are announced every Spring at our Spring Banquet.  Please consider attending the Spring Banquet, usually held in April. Watch our website for date and location this Spring.

Department Newsletters

2017 DISTINGUISHED ALUMNI AWARD RECIPIENT

John C. Spurney (B.S. 1979; M.S. 1984)

It was a real pleasure recognizing John Spurney as the 2017 Distinguished Alumni at our annual Spring Banquet. John earned his BS in Geology in 1979 and his MS in Geology in 1984 Photo of John Spurneyhaving worked on the Iron Peak intrusion in Iron County, Utah. John has used his knowledge and skills he obtained in this department to sustain a career in mineral resource management with an emphasis on exploration and development of precious and base metal deposits in metallogenic belts literally around the world.

After getting his MS John first worked as an exploration geologist for a variety of corporations in California, Nevada, and Utah. His first international stint was as an exploration Geologist with Pan-American Resources in Peru where he completed property examinations for gold, sulfur, and coal at numerous localities. In 1990 he served as Placer Dome’s Project Geologist in Alaska evaluating the Juneau Gold Belt along with numerous other Alaska precious and base metal occurrences. He was quickly promoted to Placer Dome’s international group and managed exploration activities in Central America and the Caribbean Basin. His exploration in Costa Rica led to the discovery of a new gold district in Costa Rica and Nicaragua. During this time he also spent nine months in Kazakhstan in part evaluating the giant Vasilkovska gold deposit.

John worked for 5 years as Exploration Manager for Brett Resources, developing a portfolio of primarily Au-Ag prospects in Central America. His reconnaissance in El Salvador resulted in the discovery of a new low sulfidation epithermal Au-Ag district. Since 2002 John has worked as a consulting geologist for various companies with assignments in Latin America and Asia including developing a portfolio of gold prospects in Mongolia and China. He served two years as VP of Exploration for Toronto-based Cu-Mo explorer Virgin Metals Inc and two years as Senior Corporate Geologist for Goldcorp, Inc. He continues consulting today with many assignments in Nicaragua focused on geologic mapping and drill target exploration of Tertiary age Au-Ag mineralization belts in hydrothermally altered volcanic and intrusive rocks.

John is proud to be a Fellow in the Society of Economic Geologists. He is a “boots on the ground” geologist who 38 years after taking fieldcamp continues to carry a rock hammer and wears a hand lens regularly since many of his assignments involve geologic mapping. Congratulations John!

2016 DISTINGUISHED ALUMNI AWARD RECIPIENT

Joseph Struckel (B.S. 1969)

Joseph StruckelWe were pleased to present Joseph Struckel this year's Distinguished Alumni Award at the annual Spring Banquet. Joe Struckel received his B.S. in Geology from Kent State University in 1969. After graduation, he served in the United States Army as a project leader and combat engineer, obtaining the rank of major. Joe worked as a project geologist for the Corps of Engineers and Lawrence Laboratory in Livermore, CA where he conducted research in the geology of explosive excavations and their impact on the environment. 

From 1983 - 2011, Joe founded and was president of Geosearch Logging Inc. headquartered in Edmond, CA. The company provided comprehensive geological and  hydrocarbon well logging services in 15 states across the country. During this time, Joe managed and operated 11 offices in 8 states. Beginning in 2012, Joe served as vice president of industry relations for Empirica LLC. His responsibilities included presentations, seminars and lectures on technological  advancements as well as identifying expansion and growth opportunities of Empirica surface logging.

His professional affiliations include the Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG); Society of Professional Well Log Analysts (SPWLA); Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE); SIPES (Society of Independent Professional Earth Scientists) and American Institute of Professional Geologists (AIPG). Joe has kept close connections with faculty and students at KSU, interviewing and hiring Geology majors, giving presentations in Geology and to business students. He and his wife Karen have generously given to the Department, and both are currently serving on the College of Arts and Sciences Advisory Board.

2015 Distinguished Alumni Award Recipient

Gordon Nelson (B.S. 1967; M.S. 1970)

Gordon NelsonIt was a real pleasure recognizing Gordon Nelson (BS 1967; MS 1970) as this year’s Distinguished Alumni at our annual Spring Banquet. After defending his MS thesis in the Bighorns under the supervision of Dr. Heimlich, Gordon was immediately hired by Homestake Mining Corporation in Lead, South Dakota. He was promoted to Senior Geologist in 1975 and to Chief Mines Operation Geologist in 1979 being responsible for all aspects of exploration in the Homestake Mine. Between 1979 and 1989 Gordon conducted the first drilling program which confirmed significant ore reserves in the Homestake open cut area and completed a mine-out study predicting the end of the Homestake mine. In 1989 he transferred to the McLaughlin Mine, Lower Lake, CA where he was responsible for a wide variety of duties and programs from the implementation of a drilling and evaluation pro-gram on the Gamble Ranch to the last grade control on the last ton of ore from the McLaughlin Mine. He also worked at the Bulldog Mtn. Silver Mine, Colorado, and the Jardine Mine, Montana, and was employed by Cathedral Gold Corporation, Honduras. He was awarded early retirement by Homestake Mining Co. in 1996 and currently enjoys living in Arizona and especially attending the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show, the largest, oldest and most prestigious gem and mineral show in the world.

2014 Distinguished Alumni Award Recipient

George D. Gardner (M.S. 1972)

George D. Gardner

We are very pleased this year to present our Distinguished Alumni Award to George D. Gardner (M.S. 1972). George did his M.S. thesis research on slope stability under the direction of Murray McComas. George took upon himself to learn more about engineering geology/geotechnical engineering and, on his own, took and passed the Professional Engineers exam. He is now both a Professional Geologist and a Professional Engineer, registered in several states.

  • From 1972-1983, he was employed by GAI Consultants in Pittsburgh, PA, one of the best geotechnical firms in Pennsylvania, as Senior Engineering Geologist, Geotechnical Engineer, and Project Manager. He worked on a large variety of engineering geology/hydrogeology-related projects, involving slope stability, foundation design, mine subsidence, etc.
  • From 1983-1988, he moved to NUS where he served as Project Manager, Program Manager, Office Manager, and Geotechnical Engineer. He managed a budget of $320 million covering superfund sites in the eastern U.S.
  • From 1988-2006 he worked for NUS in Boston, MA, as Program Manager, Office Manager, Vice President, Senior Vice President, and President. Here he continued to work on superfund and brownfield sites in more than 30 municipal and non-profit sites.
  • From 2006 to present, he is Deputy Director – Bureau of Waste Site Cleanup – Technical and Financial Services Division of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection.

As you can see from these credentials, George has risen, professionally, to high ranks. For the past 32 years, George has been leading the engineering geology class field trip, where our students benefit a great deal from his technical knowledge and practical experience. Not once during the past 32 years has he missed leading the trip. He goes to great lengths to prepare slides and handouts for the field trip. For the past 17 years, he has been traveling from Boston to Pittsburgh to lead this field trip, donating his own money and time. This is an unparalleled example of extreme dedication and commitment to one’s alma mater.

2013 Distinguished Alumni Award Recipient

Donald C. Gifford (B.S. 1951)

Donald C. GiffordWe are very pleased this year to present our first Distinguished Alumni Award to Donald C. Gifford (B.S. 1951). Don has spent the majority of his career as a Petroleum Geologist working for a number of different companies from 1952 to 1967 (Union Producing, Texaco, American Petrofina, and Marr Co) and then as an Independent Geologist from 1967 to the present. He has been a member of AAPG, the Mississippi Geological Society, the Dallas Geological Society and past President of the Society of Independent Professional Earth Scientists. Don Gifford writes “As I reflect on my years at Kent State University, I recall that the total student population was around 5000 with 18-20 Geology majors and one professor! A second professor was added in our third year (1950). The Geology courses were well thought out with plenty of Math, Physics, lab work and numerous field trips. Over the years I have found that there were many more courses offered by the Geology Department at Kent State University than offered at many so called high power schools. Also, the faculty gave students an abundance of personal attention. When I was hired as a Petroleum Geologist it became clear that I could compete with any of the other Geologists who graduated from Texas A&M, UT, and Oklahoma University. I have been very proud to be an Independent Petroleum Geologist. I have spent the last 60 years having Geologists as friends and associates both in industry and in Geology Societies. I value the many opportunities that my degree in Geology at Kent State University has afforded me and I thank the Department for this honor.”