by Peggy Sheehan
do Bucharest and Houston have in common? Sisters who are both
geophysicists – and each other’s twin – with an interest in seismology. One of the twins has remained in Romania and the other is here at UH’s
College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics in our geosciences
Popa-Dumitru and her sister “talk” frequently by exchanging
over 20 emails a day. They often discuss professional matters
like any two colleagues would who work side by side –exchanging
ideas about conferences, research, and topics in their area
was born in Caracal, Romania, but is now a resident of Houston.
After she received her MS in geophysics from the University
she decided to come here because of her interest in the oil
business – even in Romania, Houston is recognized as
the oil capital of the world. “Coming to Houston was
the easiest decision for me to make," says
the doctoral candidate.
Choosing the University
of Houston was the next logical step in her plan because
UH is renowned for its professors of geophysics and their industry
experience – for Mariana “that was a big plus.” She
knew of Professor Emeritus Robert Sheriff’s reputation
because the seismology textbook he had written is used world-wide.
When she discovered that he taught at UH she was “specifically
drawn to the department.” After she researched the
rest of the department she knew “it
was a good team.” Another very important plus for Mariana
was receiving the very first Margaret and Robert Sheriff
Fellowship which enabled her to come
to UH to study seismology.
Seismology is the
science involved in locating new, viable drilling sites,
and in reevaluating previously drilled sites which may have
considered as uneconomical for continued drilling when reserves
were plentiful and fuel prices were low. To do her research,
she works closely with Allied Geophysical Laboratories
(AGL) and Dr.
who is her thesis advisor.
Because the geophysics
department at UH focuses on the oil industry, it familiarizes
its students with the latest technology and methods. When
Mariana joined NSM in 2000 she was not aware of VSP
(vertical seismic profiling) data capability to construct
images of the subsurface -- now
she is well versed in using the technology and it is a central
research for the PhD proposal which she submitted in 2001
and will defend for her doctorate in the fall.
But the best part
of being here at NSM, says Mariana, is that “these
teachers really know how to teach – they are amazing,
never boring.” This
is ample reward for her “easy” decision
to leave one part of the world behind to come to another.
Here, she can learn from the best how to be one of the best.