Scott W. Tinker

Scott W. Tinker
University of Texas, Bureau of Economic Geology

2018 AGI Medal in Memory of Ian Campbell

Presented to Scott W. Tinker

Citation by Jonathan G. Price and Nick Tew

The service of Dr. Scott W. Tinker to geoscience is superlative.  His genuine commitment to science, his passion for helping the public and policy makers find solutions to complex energy-environmental-economic problems, and his fair, reasoned, and successful leadership of geoscience organizations are characteristics of an outstanding geoscientist, and he is a most deserving recipient of the 2018 Medal in Memory of Ian Campbell for Superlative Service to the Geosciences.

For consideration as a Campbell Medalist, candidates are measured against the career and legacy of Dr. Ian Campbell, a renowned geoscientist, educator, administrator, and public servant who exemplified superlative service to the geosciences.  A review of Scott’s résumé and accomplishments certainly illustrates a distinguished career of impressive depth and breadth in geoscientific endeavor and clearly shows that Scott has been extremely generous with his time and talent in service to our profession and to fostering public awareness of the importance of geoscience to society and societal needs.  Scott Tinker truly lives up to the example set by Dr. Campbell.

Scott earned his B.S. degree in geology and business administration at Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas in 1982 and began his career in the petroleum industry thereafter with Robert M. Sneider Exploration.  Upon earning his M.S. degree at the University of Michigan in 1985, Scott joined Union Pacific Resources and from 1988 to 2000 rose through the geology ranks at Marathon Oil to Advanced Senior Geologist.  Along the way, in 1996, he earned his Ph.D. at the University of Colorado.  During those years, he became an expert in carbonate stratigraphy and reservoir characterization and contributed significantly to the peer-reviewed literature.  He received best paper awards for articles in the AAPG Bulletin (1996) and the Journal of Sedimentary Research (1998) and was honored as an AAPG Distinguished Lecturer in 1998. 

In 2000 Scott became the Texas State Geologist and Director of the Bureau of Economic Geology at The University of Texas at Austin (UT), where he continues to develop major research programs in energy-related areas of nanotechnology, carbon sequestration, water and energy, and unconventional oil and gas resources, among others.  Since 2002 he has been a Professor and the Edwin Allday Endowed Chair in Subsurface Geology at the UT Jackson School of Geosciences. 

As an educator, Scott has served on dozens of graduate student committees and taught a graduate course in reservoir characterization.  As an administrator, Scott has helped to rebuild the Bureau into the premier state geological survey, now with over 250 research and support staff and students working on over 100 global grants and contracts from a variety of federal, state, and private organizations. Scott was one of the “Jackson Five” who, along with Campbell Medalists Bill Fisher and Peter Flawn, worked with Jack Jackson to form the Jackson School of Geosciences at the University Texas. Scott has served on the Executive Committee of the Jackson School since its formation.

Scott’s public service involves frequent testimony and briefings before federal and state legislatures and executive agencies, and he has served on numerous boards and commissions that influence national energy policies, including the National Research Council’s Board on Energy and Environmental Systems (2003-09), the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine Roundtable on Unconventional Hydrocarbon (2016-present), the National Petroleum Council (2006-present), and the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission (2007-present).

Scott co-produced the documentary film Switch, which has been seen by more than 15 million viewers in over 50 countries and continues to be screened on over 1,000 university campuses worldwide.  Recently, he founded the not-for-profit Switch Energy Alliance to advance energy education globally.  Scott’s passion for explaining complex energy-environmental-economic policy options to the public in an objective, nonpartisan, yet entertaining way is evident in the film, and in over 700 invited and keynote lectures, which have taken him to more than 60 countries, scores of universities and hundreds of public forums.  He has focused on understanding the framework, challenges, and scale of transitioning from fossil fuels to alternative energy resources, as well as on the positive and negative environmental and economic impacts of that transition.

Scott has served the geoscience profession admirably (at local, national, and international levels) as President of the American Geosciences Institute (AGI, 2015-16), Gulf Coast Association of Geological Societies (GCAGS, 2011-12), American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG, 2008-09), Association of American State Geologists (AASG, 2007-08), and Austin Geological Society (AGS, 2002-03).  He also served in various capacities with the Society for Sedimentary Geology, Society of Exploration Geophysicists, Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE), and West Texas Geological Society.

Scott’s contributions to the geosciences have been recognized by several awards and lectureships: AAPG Distinguished Lecturer (1997-98), SPE Distinguished Lecturer (2002-03), AAPG International Distinguished Ethics Lecturer (2005-06), Geological Society of America (GSA) Fellow (2011), GSA Halbouty Distinguished Lecturer (2013), AGI Outstanding Contribution to Public Understanding of the Geosciences Award (2013), American Institute of Professional Geologists John T. Galey, Sr. Memorial Public Service Award (2013), AAPG Geosciences in the Media National Award (2014), AAPG Honorary Member (2015), GCAGS Don R. Boyd Medal (2016), and AAPG Michel Halbouty Outstanding Leadership Medal (2016).

Scott is very close with his family, married to Allyson for 35 years, with four grown children. The Tinker family travelled extensively to attend various professional meetings and geological field trips during summer breaks. Scott is first to acknowledge their support and encouragement and that what he does would not be feasible without them.

Scott Tinker clearly has followed the example of Ian Campbell and has made significant contributions to the geosciences, and beyond, as a scientist, educator, administrator, and public servant. Having interacted with Scott for nearly two decades, we can vouch that, like Ian Campbell, Scott Tinker is a man of candor and integrity who enjoys the widespread respect of his peers and colleagues around the world.  Scott perfectly exemplifies the superlative service to the geosciences for which Ian Campbell was known and is therefore an outstanding recipient of the 2018 Medal in Memory of Ian Campbell for Superlative Service to the Geosciences.

2018 AGI Medal in Memory of Ian Campbell — Response by Scott W. Tinker

Thanks to citationists Jon Price and Nick Tew. Receiving the Campbell Medal is a great honor. Working to bring
academia, government, industry and NGOs together to tackle major earth science challenges—CCUS, induced
seismicity, shale development and resource characterization, subsurface nanosensors, global energy education ,
sustainable energy development—is not for the faint of heart. My efforts have benefited tremendously from interaction
with mentors and friends across all of these sectors. You have been indulgent with my many shortcomings, and I am
grateful. My wife Allyson has supported, counseled and hung tough for over 40 years, in ways that are unfair to request,
or expect. I am forever indebted.