Alumni Achievement Award Recipients

Each year, the Department of Geosciences at Western Michigan University awards a member of our distinguished alumni with an Alumni Achievement Award to commemorate their unique contributions to the field of geosciences. Below is a list of awardees, accompanied by biographies that highlight their educational and professional histories, as well as their many accomplishments.


Dane Alexander—Instructor, Western Michigan University, Department of Geosciences
Dane Alexander graduated from WMU with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in earth science and political science in 1973 and 1983. He was involved in education as a high school geology teacher in the Mattawan Consolidated Schools for 30 years before retiring. As a high school teacher, Dane understood the importance of relating to his students and making the subject relevant to the students’ lives. He often spent his weekends taking students on field trips to local rock quarries or other areas of geological significance throughout Michigan. At WMU, Alexander has led more than a hundred students and alumni on field trips to the U.S. Southwest and is especially well known for his epic Grand Canyon rafting trips down the Colorado River, which he led from 1993 to 2006. He still continues to teach the very popular course, geology of the national parks, at WMU as a part-time instructor and is an outspoken supporter of both the National Park system and earth science education. His youthful enthusiasm, personal photographs and humorous stories about his experiences visiting the U.S. National Parks consistently make it one of the most popular and rapidly filled courses taught at WMU. Dane’s charisma and passion for teaching earth science and geology has inspired a myriad of students to pursue degrees and careers in earth science and geology, as well as in education.


Dr. Brian Shaw—Geologist and Founding Dean, Oettinger School of Science and Technology Intelligence at the National Intelligence University
Dr. Shaw is the Founding Dean of the School of Science and Technology Intelligence at the National Intelligence University in Washington, DC. The School is the focus for S&T analytic education, research and external engagement across the intelligence and international national security communities. He joined the University in 2007 to organize the University’s S&T Intelligence program, and developed and established the S&T School in 2010. Dr. Shaw received his BS from WMU in 1973, MS from the University of Michigan in 1975 and a PhD from Syracuse University in 1978. His principal areas of study were geology and mathematics. After serving briefly as a lecturer at the University College at Syracuse University, he joined the petroleum industry in a variety of research, development and exploration positions. He later formed and was the managing partner of an energy-consulting firm in Houston, Texas. In 1991 Dr. Shaw joined the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory as a Senior Program Manager and Technical Group Manager in Richland, Washington and Washington, DC. Dr. Shaw also served as a Senior Advisor in the Field Intelligence Element where he managed several research and special programs. Dr. Shaw served as a Senior Analyst and Senior Advisor in the Intelligence Community and was appointed as Deputy National Intelligence Officer for Science and Technology to the National Intelligence Council. Dr. Shaw’s primary focus is on threats to national security arising from globalization of science and technology, evaluating disruptive consequences of adversarial technology adaptations, examining geostrategic resource issues, and identifying frameworks for effective collection, warning, and analysis.


Mike Wireman—Hydrogeologist and Consultant
Michael Wireman was a hydrogeologist employed by the U.S. EPA in Denver, Colorado, until 2014, where he served as a national groundwater expert. Wireman has a master's degree in hydrogeology from WMU, and he has performed post-master's work at the Colorado School of Mines. He has more than 30 years of experience in groundwater investigations in the western Rocky mountains. In his most recent position, he provided technical and scientific support to several EPA programs, other federal agencies, international programs, and state groundwater protection and management programs. Wireman managed research projects related to mine-site hydrology/geochemistry, groundwater sensitivity/vulnerability assessment, isotope hydrology, groundwater/surface water interaction and aquifer characterization. In addition, he has significant experience in the legal, scientific and programmatic aspects of groundwater resource management; extensive experience in groundwater-related work in the Baltic countries, Ukraine, Romania and Georgia and served as an adjunct professor at Metropolitan State College in Denver where he taught a class on contaminants. Wireman is a member of the Colorado Ground Water Association, NGWA and the Geological Society of America. He was also the chair of the International Association of Hydrogeologists-United States National Chapter.


James W. Farnsworth—Founding Partner, Chief Exploration Officer and Executive Vice President, Cobalt International Energy
Jim Farnsworth has more than 30 years of experience in the international oil and gas industry, the last 15 years of which he has held executive positions. Farnsworth is a founding partner in Cobalt International Energy, an independent, oil-focused exploration and production company. Since its founding, he has served as Cobalt’s Chief Exploration Officer, responsible for all exploration activities. Cobalt, which has an active drilling program in deep water Gulf of Mexico, Angola and Gabon, has pioneered the exploration of sub-salt and pre-salt reservoirs. Prior to founding Cobalt, Farnsworth was the Senior Vice President of World-Wide Exploration and Technology at BP, a global energy company. He has a B.S. in geology from Indiana University and an M.S. from Western Michigan University. Farnsworth serves on, and is the former chairman of, the advisory board/foundation of the Jackson School of Geosciences at the University of Texas-Austin. He has also served on the Advisory Board of Indiana University’s School of International Studies and on a number of non-profit boards.


Thomas Drean—Director and State Geologist, Wyoming Geological Survey, and Cabinet member, State of Wyoming
Thomas Drean graduated from WMU in 1974 with a B.S. in geology. In addition to his degree from Western, Drean also holds an MS in geochemistry from Pennsylvania State University and is a graduate of the Executive Development Program from the S.C. Johnson School of Management at Cornell University. Drean is currently serving on the Cabinet of the state of Wyoming and is the state geologist and director of the Wyoming State Geological Survey. He serves on the Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, the Enhanced Oil Recovery Commission, the Wyoming Board of Professional Geologists, the Groundwater Commission and the Consensus Revenue Estimating Group for the state of Wyoming. Drean also holds the position of chairman of the board for the Laura Jane Musser Fund, which is a US-based philanthropic fund that reviews proposals and donates money to selected nonprofit organizations and initiatives. Prior to becoming the Wyoming state geologist and director of the Wyoming State Geologic Survey, Drean worked in the oil and gas industry for 31 years. Twenty-six of those years were with ConocoPhillips where he held a variety of technical and managerial positions around the world. Drean credits WMU with providing him with a great foundation in geology and instilling a lifelong interest in learning.


Dr. W. Richard Laton—Professor of Hydrogeology, University of California at Fullerton
Dr. Richard Laton is an expert in the field of hydrology/hydrogeology. He currently is an associate professor of hydrogeology in the Department of Geological Sciences at California State University, Fullerton. This is a continuation of a career that includes years of teaching, consulting, litigation support and management experience. Laton possesses extensive knowledge in the areas of hydrogeology, soil and water contamination, hydrology and surface water, wetlands, coastal monitoring/geomorphology, field sampling techniques and well hydraulics as well as environmental remote sensing/GIS. His classes at the university encompass topics including water quality, environmental sampling, groundwater modeling, well hydraulics, oceanography and basic geology. He enjoys introducing students to applied research and acts as faculty advisor to a large number of upper-level students. He also has acted as consultant for a variety of companies and agencies which need input on the above subjects, as well as natural hazard assessment and mapping.


Howard A. Nevins—President, Trey Exploration, Inc.
Howard A. Nevins received his B.S. in geology from Western Michigan University in 1978. He was a three-year letter winner in football at WMU, team captain and recipient of the President’s Award for Leadership his senior season. Work toward his MBA was undertaken at WMU, Morehead State University and University of Evansville. Nevins is a 30 year veteran of the oil and gas industry. He started his career with Ashland Petroleum Company (Marathon) initially working throughout the Appalachian Basin in coal mapping, reserve calculations and mine planning. He then was a founding partner in Lafitte Exploration, Inc., doing prospect generation, oil and gas development and engineering studies in the Illinois and Michigan Basins. In 1987, Nevins started Trey Exploration, Inc., an oil and gas exploration and production company. Trey Exploration continues to provide geological investigations and explorations for oil, gas and coal bed methane. In 1989, he co-founded Midwest Custom Chemicals, Inc., a manufacturer and distributor of internationally recognized proprietary chemicals used in demulsification, wastewater clarification and oil and gas production. Nevins currently is the North America business unit manager for Weatherford’s Engineered Chemistry division. In 1992, Nevins founded, and was president of American Enviro Services, Inc., a regional leader in environmental consulting, emergency response and used oil recycling. In 1997, AES was sold to U.S. Energy Systems, Inc., an international leader in green energy. Nevins was named chief operating officer for North American and Swedish operations and served on the board of directors. Nevins has remained active in numerous professional and community organizations. He has always been proud he chose to be a WMU Bronco.


Dr. Eliot A. Atekwana—Professor of Geochemistry, Oklahoma State University's Boone Pickens School of Geology
Eliot Atekwana obtained his B.S. in geology from University of Maryland in 1984; an M.S. in 1987 from Howard University and a Ph.D. from WMU in 1996. Atekwana’s work includes the application of stable isotopes of carbon in understanding carbon flow, groundwater contamination and stream water-groundwater interaction down gradient of the Cox Street unlined landfill in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Since 2006, Atekwana has served as associate professor at the Boone Pickens School of Geology, Oklahoma State University. He previously taught in the WMU Department of Geosciences from 1997-1998. He was then an assistant professor at Central Michigan University, Indiana University, Purdue University and the University of Missouri-Rolla (now Missouri University of Science and Technology). He is a member of the American Geophysical Union, Geological Society of America and the National Association of Black Geologists and Geophysicists. He has received five National Science Foundation grants and was awarded the 2008 Sterling Burks Award for Outstanding Environmental Research at OSU. He has been recognized by the Symposium on the Application of Geophysics to Environmental and Engineering Problems; the Governor of Indiana (Environmental Award); as a faculty member at Indiana University and Purdue University Indianapolis Center for Earth and Environmental Science.


Dr. Barry C. McBride—Manager of Geology, FourPoint Energy (formerly Cordillera Energy Partners II)
Barry C. McBride earned his B.S. in geology from Furman University in 1985. He went on to receive his M.S. in geology from Western Michigan University in 1988 and his Ph.D. in geology from the University of Colorado at Boulder in 1997. He has 20 years of oil and gas experience with several different companies. At WMU, his master’s thesis, directed by Drs. Chris Schmidt and Ron Chase, involved two summers of field mapping in southwestern Montana, where he deciphered the complex structural history of the Snowcrest Range (a Rocky Mountain foreland uplift). He was named All-University Graduate Research and Creative Scholar at WMU in 1989. McBride has worked as a petroleum geologist for the past 20 years with various companies, including Mobil Oil Corporation, HS Resources, EnCana, Medicine Bow Energy, El Paso Exploration and Producing and, currently, FourPoint Energy. He has extensive domestic and global experience in petroleum exploration, including the North American Cordillera/Western Overthrust belt, the Alaska North Slope, Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, lower Saxony Basin (Ger.), Gulf of Mexico, Texas Panhandle and the Anadarko and East Texas basins. He has an international reputation for his knowledge of the relationship between salt tectonics and petroleum genesis, migration, and trapping in sedimentary basins. McBride also worked with CogniSeis Development in Denver, where he designed interpretation software for the oil and gas industry. McBride has published a number of articles on his work, most notably on salt tectonics in the Gulf of Mexico. His interests include structural geology and petroleum systems. He is a member of the Rocky Mountain Association of Geologists, American Association of Petroleum Geologists, East Texas Geological Society and Houston Geological Society. McBride is manager of geology for Cordillera Energy Partners II in Greenwood Village, Colorado.


Robert K. Garrison—Executive Vice President and General Manager, Denver EOG Resources, Inc.
Robert Garrison earned his B.S. in 1974 in geology from WMU. He graduated cum laude and was a Waldo Sangren Research Scholar. He received his M.S. in 1977 from the University of Cincinnati. He has worked with various oil companies, beginning his career at Shell Oil. He is currently the Executive Vice President and General Manager of Denver EOG Resources, Inc.


Dr. Timothy L. Clarey—Geologist, Institute for Creation Research
Timothy L. Clarey, earned his Ph.D. in geology in 1996, an M.S. in hydrogeology in 1993 and a B.S. in geology in 1982, all from WMU. He also received an M.S. in geology from the University of Wyoming in 1984. Since 1995, Dr. Clarey has served as professor and geosciences chair of Delta College and currently teaches classes in physical geology, geology and dinosaurs, geology of national parks, environmental geology and the geology of Michigan. Dr. Clarey has been honored on numerous occasions, most recently as Bay City Western High School’s Distinguished Alumni in June 2006. Prior to that, Dr. Cleary was named to Who’s Who in America, 60th Edition, 2006; Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers, 8th and 9th Edition, 2004, 2005 and is the recipient of Barstow and Frevel Scholarly Achievement Award from Delta College in 2002. Additionally, Dr. Clarey was awarded every major honor at Delta College within the first 10 years of his tenure at the college, including the election as Senate President of the College. He regularly lectured on dinosaurs and geology and currently is studying the timing and the causes of dinosaur extinction. He is currently a geologist for the Institute for Creation Research.


Paul R. Goudreault—Global E&I Oil and Gas Sector Leader, Amec Foster Wheeler
Paul Goudreault received his B.S. in geology and earth science from WMU in 1980. He received his M.S. in geology and geophysics from the University of Minnesota. Since 1993, Goudreault has helped clients implement programs to build organizational strategies and support management services. He has more than 20 years of environmental consulting and state regulatory experience. Goudreault has worked as a presenter, interviewer, facilitator, panelist and founding board member for numerous organizations. He also has produced publications, including "ELM Organizational Trends Peer Group Observations" for Chevron Environment Company and "National Alliance Concepts" for Equiva. Goudreault was president and CEO of Delta Environmental Consultants, Inc. and Inogen Environmental Alliance, Inc. He is currently the Global E&I Oil and Gas Sector Leader at Amec Foster Wheeler.


John H. Fowler—President, Polaris Energy, Inc.
John Fowler received a B.S. in geology from Michigan State University in 1975 and an M.S. in geology from WMU in 1979. He moved to Oklahoma to join Phillips Petroleum as a petroleum geologist. Fowler moved back to Michigan in 1980 to work for Patrick Petroleum, followed by Ladd Petroleum in 1984. In 1986, he co-founded Polaris Energy where he has been ever since. Polaris Energy is a geological/geophysical consulting firm, specializing in services to the oil and gas industry. Fowler is a member of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists, the Michigan Basin Geological Society and the Potential Gas Committee. He has also been a member of the WMU Geosciences Industry Advisory Council since its inception in 1983.


Jeffrey C. Hawkins—President, Envirologic. Inc
Jeff Hawkins graduated from WMU in 1995 with an M.S. in geosciences. Prior to that, he received his B.S. in geology from Southern Illinois University in 1983. Hawkins is president, founder and an owner of West Michigan Drilling, an environmental and geotechnical drilling firm, and Envirologic Technologies Inc., an environmental consulting and services firm. At Envirologic, Hawkins is responsible for marketing, business development and technical oversight; he shares responsibility for the overall functions of the company. He has served on the board of directors and as president of the Environmental Management Association and is a member of the Advisory Council for the Department of Geosciences at WMU.


Ronald A. Parker—Retired Geologist/Engineering Geologist
Ronald A. Parker received a B.S. in geology from Western Michigan University in 1977. After graduation, he joined Cascade Testing Laboratory in Bellevue, WA, as a staff geologist. In 1982, Parker was promoted to vice president and placed in charge of the newly formed division, Cascade Geotechnical. In 1987, he joined Associated Earth Sciences as an associate geologist and was soon promoted to principal geologist. In 2000, he was elected president of the firm by the board of directors, with a new title of president, principal geologist and chief operations officer. The company grew to a staff of 85 professional engineers, professional geologists and support staff. The three-office firm had five divisions within the Puget Sound region. Parker retired from the firm in 2013.

Thomas C. Kamin—Independent Petroleum Production Geologist
Thomas Kamin began his college studies at Morton Junior College (Cicero, IL), where he completed a two-year program. In 1962 he transferred to Western Michigan University and began a bachelor’s degree program in what was then the Department of Geography. Kamin completed work on a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1965 and was one of the first three students to be granted a geology degree from WMU. Following a short stint as a mining geologist in eastern Canada, he began graduate studies at Washington State University (Pullman, WA) where he specialized in stratigraphy and mining technology. He received an M.S. degree in geology in 1968.

Kamin joined Sunray DX Oil Company (later known as Sun Oil Company, Sun Exploration and Production Company and Oryx Energy Company) in 1969, and began a career as a development geologist in petroleum that spanned the next 23 years. After drilling oil and gas wells in West Texas, he joined Sun’s Reservoir Simulation Group and participated in the development of early hydrocarbon reservoir modeling techniques. He became manager of the Reservoir Simulation Geology Group in 1978. In 1987, he chaired the Technical Committee for the Southwest Section American Association of Petroleum Geologists meeting in Dallas. Later that year, he became manager of geology for Sun’s Northern District, and relocated to Midland Michigan to develop the company’s deep Michigan basin gas reservoirs and other major development projects in the eastern United States. As manager of geology, Kamin was able to secure the donation of an eastern Michigan basin St. Peter core to the WMU Core Research Laboratory, now MGRRE, which contributed to an improved understanding of Michigan basin stratigraphy.

Kamin left Oryx Energy Company in late 1991 and returned to WWMU to pursue a second M.S. in hydrogeology, which he received in 1993. While at WMU, he co-directed the summer Hydrogeology Field Course. He is a co-founder and former principal of Earth Resources International, L.C., a geology-based consulting company headquartered in Kalamazoo. He continued to work as a consulting geologist until his retirement in 1998. Kamin was one of the early members of the geosciences Advisory Council and has actively served the council and the department since the fall of 1983.

Paul A. Daniels, Jr.—Certified Professional Geologist, Principal, Earth Resources International, LLC.
Jerry L. Aiken—Independent Consultant in Industrial Minerals (rare earths and precious metals)


Charles D. Harrington
Dr. Charles D. Harrington completed his bachelor's degree in geology from Western Michigan University in 1966 and earned his master's degree and doctorate at Indiana University.


Dr. Julie K. Stein—Executive Director, Burke Museum, andProfessor of Anthropology, University of Washington
Dr. Julie K. Stein received her B.A. from WMU in 1974 in both geology and anthropology. She earned M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Minnesota. She is currently the Executive Directory of the Burke Museum in Seattle, Washington. She is also a professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Washington.


Patrick M. Lynch
Patrick M. Lynch graduated from Western Michigan University in 1980 with a major in geology and minors in biology and general science.


John A. Yellich, Certified Professional Geologist, Director, Michigan Geological Survey
John A. Yellich is the director of the Michigan Geological Survey at Western Michigan University. He received his bachelor's and master's degrees from WMU and his professional geologist certification from the American Institute of Professional Geologists. Yellich brings more than forty years of geologic experience in mineral exploration and development, environmental consulting, business operations, and safety compliance. He has worked in more than thirty states conducting mineral and petroleum assessments in the United States, Canada, Australia and China. Yellich is an exploration, mineral development and environmental geologist with experience in mineral resources in western states; the upper Midwest; the Piedmont province of the east; Canadian provinces of Ontario, Saskatchewan and Alberta; northern and south-eastern Australia; and oil and mineral provinces in China. He has authored a number of Canadian Securities Administration feasibility reports to validate exploration information. He has guided and reviewed several surface water and ground water investigations and negotiated regulatory agreements during the conduct of environmental liability assessments for Fortune 50 companies. Yellich has worked extensively on mineral exploration models testing, confirmation and successful validation of potential targets in Michigan, Minnesota and Canada. He developed a business model for assessing corporate environmental liabilities for many lessees of Fortune 50 in 21 states, and the process for expedited abatement liabilities.