2011 Awards - Full Citations
Individuals and one company were honored on November 16, 2012, at the Illinois State Geological Survey's (ISGS) annual awards program. The awards were presented by ISGS Director Donald McKay in recognition of the outstanding contributions of these individuals and companies for the benefit of the people of Illinois. The awards and recipients are listed below:
Outstanding Cooperator Award
The Outstanding Cooperator Award is given to the individual who or organization that has provided a significant contribution to or support of ISGS programs. Such contributions might include significant collaboration on research projects, donations of data or equipment, or monetary support of research through cooperative research efforts.
This year’s Outstanding Cooperator Award is presented to Amy Eller, engineer of Aerial Surveys and chief of the Aerial Surveys Section, Bureau of Design & Environment, Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT). The Aerial Surveys Section has cooperated with the ISGS on several projects in the past, both large and small, but has collaborated on two major research projects begun in the past 5 years.
The Illinois Height Modernization Program is improving statewide elevation information by installing new surveying benchmarks tied to a common datum, by densifying the benchmark network to improve precision, and by acquiring and distributing high-resolution elevation Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) data through the Illinois Geospatial Data Clearinghouse. Eller has served as a co-principal investigator of the Height Modernization Program since its inception 5 years ago.
Eller worked within IDOT to designate the Height Modernization Program as a priority project to receive funding via the Federal Highway Administration State Planning and Research Program. In partnership with the Aerial Surveys Section, the ISGS is administering the $17.5 million in program funding over a 5-year period. In addition, the Aerial Surveys Section supported the restriction-free sharing of LiDAR data acquired with IDOT district funding and contributed data from the 10 counties in IDOT District 2 and in-kind resource matching to promote public access and government agency cooperation.
Eller and the Aerial Surveys Section have also made important contributions to the Midwest Geological Sequestration Consortium (MGSC). High-quality aerial photography is being acquired on a regular schedule as part of the monitoring of the ADM site, and Aerial Surveys has contributed all the costs necessary to accomplish this responsibility for the past 4 years. As a result of their contribution, IDOT is a member of the MGSC Project Advisory Group.
The ISGS is pleased to recognize the commitment and service of Amy Eller and the IDOT Aerial Surveys Section to Illinois and to the programs and research of the Illinois State Geological Survey with the 2012 Outstanding Cooperator Award.
The plaque that commemorates this award reads, “2012 Outstanding Cooperator Award: Amy Eller, in appreciation of your commitment to broadly based data and information sharing with ISGS programs for the benefit of the people of Illinois.”
Distinguished Achievement Award
The Distinguished Achievement Award recognizes significant contributions to the Survey in the recent past. Typically, a specific event triggers the nomination. The 2012 Distinguished Achievement Award recipient is Melony Barrett for her (now) prize-winning revision of the Illinois Oil and Gas Resources (ILOIL) map application.
The original ILOIL map service was released in February 2004. It provided easy access to more than 180,000 Oracle database records to support research, exploration, and production of oil and gas reserves in the Illinois Basin. ILOIL quickly became a must-have service for oil and gas developers of projects in Illinois and led to new funding opportunities for the ISGS.
However, because of advancements in Internet capacity and computing technologies, the ArcIMS software driving the map was increasingly showing its age. Further, Esri had ceased support for ArcIMS, leading to the potential situation in which, were ArcIMS to fail, popular map services such as ILOIL and its companion, Illinois Water and Related Wells (ILWATER), would simply cease to function. Nonetheless, as late as spring 2011, ILOIL was critiqued by a master’s in GIS class at Penn State, which gave it high marks for usability even though it was showing its age.
Upon her return to the ISGS after working for the Illinois State Water Survey, Barrett accepted the challenge to transition ILOIL from ArcIMS to ArcGIS and to perform custom programming to enhance the web application with new capabilities. ILOIL 2.0 was released on September 28, 2011. While keeping all the former oil and gas content and all previous dynamic map capabilities, Barrett also rolled out new features that enabled
- printing and sharing of customized map areas;
- quick download of data within a customized area;
- sophisticated data queries;
- the ability to find specific wells, oil fields, counties, and locations; and
- the use of customized base maps.
ILOIL 2.0 received strong praise from the Oil and Gas Section staff and rave reviews from oil and gas developers when demonstrated at industry meetings. Web usage metrics show that the old ILOIL was all but abandoned as soon as the new ILOIL was made available. Correspondingly, visits to ILOIL 2.0 increased from 1,000 per month in October 2011 to almost 4,000 per month in October 2012.
Through Barrett’s efforts, ILOIL has a new life and is able to support more sophisticated oil and gas (and other) research within Illinois. Not only has this fact been proven by the web statistics, but it is also evident in the increase in data sales documented by the Geological Records Unit for oil and gas records. Check it out yourself from our web page.
Barrett receives a plaque that reads, “2012 Distinguished Achievement Award: Melony Barrett, in recognition of your significant contributions to the improvement of the ILOIL web application for the benefit of industries and the people of Illinois.”
In addition to her plaque, Barrett’s name was added to the permanent plaque in the Natural Resources Building, and she received a monetary award to be used for work purposes.
Lifetime Achievement Award
Don Luman came to ISGS following academic careers at Illinois State University and Northern Illinois University, and a brief stint at the Natural History Survey, where he had already established himself as an internationally recognized expert in remote sensing. He has carried this expertise to the ISGS and has added tools to his “toolbox” in response to an ever-changing digital world. Luman arrived just as geologists were beginning to use digital methods for geologic mapping. Luman has worked tirelessly to ensure that the highest quality geospatial data available were acquired and used with our geologic maps. He has been a leader in securing funding for the acquisition of aerial photography for the state of Illinois and for the production and distribution of multiple years of U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Digital Orthophoto Quarter Quadrangles. Last year, Luman completed a decade-long project of digital reproduction and distribution of historical aerial photographs for the entire state. This has proved invaluable in identifying predevelopment landscape features and associated geologic attributes. He also produced several statewide maps, including land cover and surface topography maps of Illinois. Luman‘s knowledge and expertise in the field of remote sensing have been crucial to the resulting quality of imagery and geospatial data that have been produced and made available to ISGS and other agencies in Illinois. His most recent contribution in the area of acquisition, processing, and distribution of Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) has been an outstanding effort to bring this incredibly detailed data to Illinois.
Luman has had a keen interest in and knowledge of USGS topographic maps, which have been the base for quadrangle geologic map publications for decades. He has followed the development of USGS geospatial data products—including Digital Elevation Models, Digital Raster Graphics, Digital Line Graphs, and Raster Feature Separates—as they have changed over time. Luman has collaborated with USGS liaisons to acquire or create the highest quality base maps for map production. His continual attention to these products has been an invaluable contribution to the availability of high-quality base maps for the ISGS Quadrangle Geologic Mapping Program.
Luman has never hesitated to share his expertise with his colleagues in support of their mapping and research. He has also been an incredible resource to many student interns who have worked in the geologic mapping program. Luman’s high level of professionalism, strong connections with people in state and national agencies, tireless work effort, creativity and success in securing funding for research and projects, and determination to provide information to staff, students, other agencies, and the public have greatly benefited the ISGS and the people of the state of Illinois.
Luman’s award reads, in recognition of your advocacy for and coordination of the acquisition and dissemination of remote sensing data for the benefit of the people of Illinois.
In addition to the plaque, Luman’s name was added to the permanent plaque in the Natural Resources Building and he received a monetary award to be used for work purposes.
Lifetime Achievement Award
For more than a decade, Jane Domier has served as the ISGS Cartographer and in the formal position of Map Standards Coordinator. Domier’s academic career was ideally tailored for the position of ISGS Cartographer. She received a B.A. in art from Concordia College in Minnesota, and then completed two additional years of course work in commercial art at the University of Minnesota. After receiving an M.A. in geography/cartography at the University of Kentucky, Domier began her professional career as a cartographer at the University of Kentucky, in the Department of Geography. Before joining the ISGS, she was the Director of Cartographic Services and a teaching associate here at the UIUC.
During Domier’s tenure at the ISGS, she has been primarily responsible for digital cartographic publications and the development of cartographic standards for the Survey’s Bedrock and Surficial Geologic Mapping Program. Her duties have included (1) map production planning; (2) coordinating work flow among ISGS geologists, graphics and publication staff, and student employees; (3) supervising base map and geologic map compilations; (4) reviewing work for adherence to quality and map design standards; (5) coordinating the map publication review process; (6) archiving and preserving final graphic, GIS, and geologic map data; (7) distributing paper and digital maps to the U.S. Geological Survey and selected Illinois public libraries; and (8) preparing finished geologic map graphic files for web-based distribution.
To ensure consistency and permanency of the data and associated geologic information, several years ago Domier and the late Dan Nelson developed the Geologic Map Data Model, and Domier continues to have primary responsibility for the curation and maintenance of this model. The success of cartographic production, map standards development, and the model can be measured in the continuous output of refereed geologic map publications. To date, she has directed the publication of more than 150 geologic maps, which is a prominent bright spot in the ISGS publication series. Director McKay recently stated, “Jane has applied her talent to the standardization of the ISGS map publication series, [the] establishment and adoption of content, and format standards for geologic maps that have greatly improved the quality of our published maps.”
Domier’s role, as well as the significance of her accomplishments and those of all ISGS mappers and support staff, is summed nicely in the position statement by the Geological Society of America (GSA) titled “The Value of Geologic Mapping”: “…geologic maps provide a context for testing scientific theories, hypotheses, and models. They stimulate scientific thinking, questions, and ideas and promote further development of geologic methods and techniques…” This document further states, “…geologic maps and their subsequent derivative products have immense economic and societal value, and when these maps are current, digital, and Internet accessible, they are particularly useful.”
Geologic mapping has been a primary responsibility of the ISGS since its origin more than a century ago. The publication of geologic maps is important because a map is the most visible outcome of geologic mapping; a well-designed geologic map that effectively communicates the science is one of the best tools the Survey can use for educating the public and supporting decisions that affect the state’s physical environment.
Domier’s plaque reads, “In recognition of your development and streamlining of base map construction and improved geologic map production for the benefit of the people of Illinois.”
In addition to the plaque, Domier’s name was added to the permanent plaque in the Natural Resources Building and she received a monetary award to be used for work purposes.
Outstanding New Staff Member Award
André Britten came to the ISGS in the fall of 2010 with a master’s in accounting from the University of Illinois and is one of only three people who manage financial activity for the Survey. His responsibilities include reviewing and reconciling account activity for 15 ISGS service accounts, as well as the ISGS General Revenue Fund account and others.
Although 20 accounts does not sound like many, those accounts have more than 60 specific services offered: 15 separate types of geophysics downhole testing services, 9 methods of rock and mineral properties, 8 different types of geophysics services, 7 or more types of isotopic analyses, 6 different geochemistry analyses, 5 particle size determination methods, 5 different visualization services, 4 material characterization services, and both drilling and GPS services. Britten processes both the billing for those services and the expenses for those accounts.
The service accounts have operating costs to be calculated (staff salaries, supplies, travel costs), equipment depreciation to be calculated and expensed, and service rates to be determined. Once the rates are established, the accounts require monthly monitoring to determine whether adjustments need to be made at year end to prevent an account surplus or deficit.
Britten was also instrumental in setting up the Information Office credit card terminal so that ISGS maps and publications could be purchased by the public. He is responsible for ensuring compliance with the industry-wide program, which increases credit card-processing security.
Britten’s efforts are described as detail oriented and thorough when processing incoming and outgoing transactions, and monitoring rates and services accurately and efficiently on a daily basis. He always has a pleasant demeanor, a smile on his face, and a positive attitude.
Britten’s plaque reads, “Outstanding New Staff Member Award: André Britten, in recognition of your outstanding contributions to the Administrative and Technical Support team through your professionalism, efficiency, and attention to detail while managing ISGS service accounts for the benefit of the people of Illinois.”
In addition to his plaque, Britten received a monetary award to be used for work-related purposes.
Outstanding New Staff Member Award
Shari Fanta came to the ISGS from the Illinois Natural History Survey in 2009 as a Laboratory Specialist. Her skill in laboratory function and management has proved to be an asset to the ISGS, as has her commitment to training laboratory personnel, communicating, and collaborating. She is dedicated to cooperation, teamwork, managing the day-to-day operations of the Stable Isotope Service Laboratories, and getting the job done. She has a phenomenal work ethic and is one of the most upbeat and personable people at the Survey.
The ISGS Stable Isotope Service Laboratories are responsible for the analysis of approximately 3,800 water, gas, and solid samples submitted each year by researchers from within the Survey and across the globe. These are an integral part of the ISGS, and Fanta has become an integral part of the laboratories. Her responsibilities include operating the isotope ratio mass spectrometer, gas chromatograph, and other analytical equipment in the Geochemistry Section, much of which is aging or old. Fanta must use her mechanical aptitude and skills to make the repairs and adjustments needed to keep it running. Soon after she arrived at the ISGS, the mass spectrometer, a key piece of analytical equipment, quit working. Fanta worked with ISGS staff, other researchers, and service technicians for months to fix the operational problems with it. Once the spectrometer was repaired, Fanta then had another task—processing the backlog of samples that had accrued while the machine was down. Fanta worked tirelessly, many times 7 days a week, 12 to 14 hours a day, for months in an effort to clear up the backlog, all while continuing to manage the daily responsibilities of the laboratory, including supervising several hourly staff.
Fanta recently accepted a new role in the Geochemistry Section as an Associate Geochemist and now manages all the day-to-day operations of the Stable Isotope Service Laboratories. Because of her exemplary level of commitment, dedication to cooperation and collaboration, attention to detail, excellent follow through, conscientiousness, and optimal data quality, Fanta is well respected among her peers. She is humble and quick to give others credit but quietly tenacious, chipping away at a problem until finding a solution.
Fanta’s plaque reads, “Outstanding New Staff Member Award: Shari Fanta, in recognition of your demonstrated excellence in performance and commitment to quality work in the Isotope Geochemistry Service Laboratories for the benefit of the people of Illinois.”
In addition to the plaque, Fanta received a monetary award to be used for work-related purposes.
Outstanding New Staff Member Award
Randall “Randy” Locke II came to the ISGS in 2009 after spending 15 years at the Illinois State Water Survey. He started at ISGS as a hydrogeologist/geochemist and Assistant Coordinator of the Monitoring, Verification, and Accounting (MVA) Program for the Midwest Geological Sequestration Consortium. In 2010, Locke became the coordinator of the program, and in September 2011, as a result of his knowledge, background, and leadership abilities, he accepted his current role of Section Head of the Geochemistry Section.
The current responsibilities of the MVA Program, which are all under Locke’s oversight, include monthly shallow groundwater sampling; compliance well sampling; weekly soil flux data collection; quarterly soil gas collection; oversight of ongoing multiplexer data acquisition, maintenance, and data download of the eddy covariance system and the permanent GPS system; maintenance of the interferometric synthetic aperture radar (InSAR) reflector grid; overall maintenance of the field site; and soon, installation of the prototype laser CO2 monitoring equipment. He also oversees activities on the Industrial Sources site and continually seeks new collaborative efforts and partnerships. Locke believes the numerous diverse environmental techniques used in the MVA Program provide an educational component not only to his staff, but also to himself.
In addition to the MVA Program, Locke has the responsibility of overseeing the Geochemistry Laboratories, including the Isotope Geochemistry and the Radiocarbon Dating Laboratories. He also has the administrative responsibilities of a Section Head. It has been reported that Locke has the ability to understand the strengths and weaknesses of his staff and to supervise them in a manner that encourages both professional and personal growth. He values constructive input, listens before deciding, and appreciates hard work. Locke is said to actively seek out ways to improve his own performance while clearing the way for others to improve theirs. His can-do attitude and his desire to keep the projects moving forward means he, too, puts in many late nights and weekends.
Locke’s plaque reads, “Outstanding New Staff Member Award: Randall A. Locke II, in recognition of your outstanding contributions to the Monitoring, Verification, and Accounting Program through your excellence in quality work, leadership, and collaborative efforts for the benefit of the people of Illinois.”
In addition to the plaque, Locke received a monetary award to be used for work-related purposes.
Updated 01/24/2013 mj