From the March 2016 Desktop News | Alabama’s State Geologist and Oil and Gas Supervisor, Dr. Berry H. “Nick” Tew Jr., has been named director of The University of Alabama’s Center for Sedimentary Basin Studies and a research professor in the UA’s Department of Geological Sciences. His work with the University will be in addition to his duties directing the Geological Survey of Alabama and the staff of the State Oil and Gas Board.
Geological sciences chair, Dr. Fred Andrus, is just one of many who are glad to have Tew on board.
“He is a national leader in geosciences,” Andrus said. “Our students will benefit from both his abilities as a scientist and the unique insight he can give toward understanding careers in both the public and private sectors.”
Tew brings decades of experience to the center. He has worked with the Geological Survey of Alabama for 31 years and is nearing his 14th year as the state geologist. Formerly, he served as the president of the American Geosciences Institute and the Association of American State Geologists, in addition to numerous other service and leadership activities on boards and committees. He has published numerous scholarly works and is a fellow in the Geological Society of America. As an Alabama native, adjunct professor, and alumnus, Tew also has a long history with the University.
“I have four degrees from The University of Alabama,” Tew said, “So I bleed Crimson.”
According to Tew, the Center for Sedimentary Basin Studies has focused primarily on the energy resources in sedimentary basins, but as the new director, Tew hopes to take a more comprehensive approach that encompasses the totality of sedimentary basin research.
“We want to expand,” Tew said, “looking not only at energy resources like oil and natural gas, but also groundwater and mineral resources that are associated with sedimentary basins, as well as other aspects of basins that fit into the center’s mission.”
Because much of Tew’s work at the state geological survey has been focused on practically integrating research about resource availability, development, and consumption into state decisions, regulations, and policy, he sees this opportunity to work with the center as an extension of what he already does.
“At the survey, our mission is more in applied geoscience—investigating, delineating, and reporting on the natural resources of the state with an eye toward economic development,” Tew said. “But with the center we can do it in a more research-focused way, bringing students into the picture and training the next generation of geoscientists who are going to be looking at critical societal issues—our need for energy, our need for clean water, and our use of mineral resources, all things that affect our lives and well-being, every day.”
Tew said the state has a responsibility to protect and manage the use of its resources, and research from the center will play a key role in doing that.
“The state of Alabama is very much engaged in trying to understand its water resources better, both surface and groundwater resources, and to take steps toward a comprehensive water management plan,” Tew said. “I think some of the center’s work will certainly inform that process.”
In addition to broadening the scope of the center, Tew said he will look for external funding to accommodate substantial research.
“I am excited and enthusiastic about the future of the Center for Sedimentary Basin Studies,” Tew said. “And I greatly appreciate the opportunity to provide leadership for this important program.”