Mariana Popa-Dumitru
PhD Candidate in Geosciences
Newsletter Archive
by Peggy Sheehan
What 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 department.
Mariana Popa-Dumitru and her sister “talk” frequently by exchanging over 20 emails a day. They often discuss professional matters just like any two colleagues would who work side by side –exchanging ideas about conferences, research, and topics in their area of study.
Mariana was born in Caracal, Romania, but is now a resident of Houston. After she received her MS in geophysics from the University of Bucharest 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 been 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. Kurt Marfurt, 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 part of her 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.
© University of Houston 2005