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Geology/Geochemist Requirements

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Question
This is Danny again,and I read online that having a PH. D. allows the Geochemist to do higher level research than having a bachelor's or master's. My question is what higher level research do you perform? Thank you!

Answer
Danny:

What you need to understand about that statement is this.

The bachelors degree of science teaches you subject matter, or course material.  It does not teach you problem solving skills.  You learn the stuff you could consider your tools.

The Masters degree is where you learn more about your tools and how to apply them to problem solving by working on research.  You learn how to research and plan a study, by seeing what people have done on the subject before you, and how you can build on that and advance the knowledge of that subject. Then you learn how to carry the research and see it to a conclusion, and how to report your findings.  You do this in your thesis.

The PhD is more of the same, just Piled Higher and Deeper...PHD get it?  Actually the joke goes BS for Bull S--t, MS  More of the Same, the PHD...Piled Higher...etc.

Anyway, the PhD candidate does a dissertation on a subject.  It should be a comprehensive study of a unique subject.  Often the research consumes all of two years, while the MS research work is only a fraction of the two years it takes to earn it, the rest is advanced classroom work.  For both the MS and PhD candidates, most learning comes from mentoring under your thesis or dissertation advisors who give you first hand tutoring on research and problem solving.

So going back to the statement, you cite, you can see why it is true.  The PhD that someone has confirs on them the assumption that they know how to do research and they can apply for grants to carry out longterm and high level research from governments and institutions.

For instance, a hospital might hire a PhD in microbiology to do research for a specific number of years on the application of some family of microbes for use in medical treatments.  Oil companies hire PhD scientists to work on developing new products from oil.

When I worked in the research lab at Phillips Petroleum, I only had a MS.  I worked with PhDs on several projects that they had developed.  I had friends working on developing high temperature resistant plastics.  These plastics are today used as surgical implants, they can be sterilized with heat and implanted in the human body.  One is a surgical mesh to help strengthen herniated areas of the abdomen. Other plastics developed were the plastic used in the big plastic designer flower pots you see in peoples homes and in computers and cell phones.   I personally worked on one project that we researched the application of using soil microbes to find oil and gas.  The idea was that these microbes evolved to use oil and gas as a food source.  We selectively mapped them by sampling the soil and counting the microbes present and used it as an indication that there was oil or gas below the highest concentration of microbes found at the surface.

We then developed a technique using satellite images to help identify similar areas without having to sample the soil.

These same microbes can be selectively grown and used to clean up oil spills by spraying them on the areas affected by the spills.  We were going to do this for the Exxon Valdex spill in Alaska, but the EPA stepped in and screwed up the project by steam cleaning the beachs and killing all the benificial microbes and actually retarding the natural clean up process.  So we were never able to finish the project and draw any conclusions from it.  These same bugs are present in areas like the Gulf of Mexico and naturally clean up the oil from the thousands of natural oil seeps that are present there.   This explains why the BP Deep Water Horizon spill, claimed to be the greatest natural disaster EVER, wasn't.  Nature cleaned it up pretty quick by the natural microbes eating the oil.  The warmer climate helped accelerate the process, and the EPA didn't steam clean anything, thus sterilizing it.  "Men forget, and All things are forgot"  to quote Shakespear...in WWII German U-Boats were torpedoing oil tankers not two miles off shore from Padre Island to Louisiana, and all along the East Coast covering the beaches along the whole eastern seaboard with crude oil.  Its been almost 70 years true, but there was no lasting environmental impact, there never was.  Hydrocarbons have been leaking for eons and nature has evolved critters to utilize THAT form of hydrocarbon as a source of energy, a food source, just as we, another hydrocarbon based life form have learned to utilize other hydrocarbon based life forms for food as well.

So the difference between the three is the level of training and experience.  You would not hire a carpenter (BS) to design a highrise building, you would hire an engineer (MS) who would build the building following the design put forth by an Architect(PhD).  This is a mere analogy of the level and sophistication of the training, not the actual level of degrees actually held.   Maybe a better one would be, in a lab, the technicians are BS holders and run the tests and lab equipment, kind of like on the TV show CSI.  The people running the investigation would be the MS holders, they decide which tests to run on which samples and interpret the data.  The D.B. character the director of the lab would be the PhD.  He makes assignements, oversees the lab and its credibility, and directs the overal progress of investigations.  Hope this helps.

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Keith Patton

Expertise

I can answer questions concerning physical and historical geology, environmental geology/hydrology, environmental consulting, remote sensing/aerial photo interpretation, G&G computer applications, petroleum exploration, drilling, geochemistry, geochemical and microbiological prospecting, 3D reservoir modeling, computer mapping and drilling.I am not a geophysicist.

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I have 24 years experience split between the petroleum and environmental industries. I have served as an expert witness in remote sensing, developmental geologist, exploration geologist, enviromental project manager, and subject matter expert in geology and geophysical software development.

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American Association of Petroleum Geologists
American Association of Photogrammetrists and Remote Sensing

Education/Credentials
Bachelor and Master of Science
Registered Geologist in State of Texas

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