Outstanding Young Professional Award

About the Award

The Outstanding Young Professional Award is presented to a person with less than five years of experience who has made significant contributions to the industry through volunteering to AAPG, RMS-AAPG or RMS-AAPG affiliated society or by scientific achievement including publication, presentation, or other contributions to geology.  This award was first presented in 2015.

Previous Winners


Over the last two years, Anita Thapalia has demonstrated the energy and passion to strengthen and serve local geology-related organizations. She has volunteered her time and expertise to the New Grad Society Technical Committee, Junior Achievement as part of the Job Shadow Program, served as a Science Mentor for the Urban Advantage Science Celebration, participated in Encana's "Encircle" mentoring program, and served as a Session Chair at the AAPG ACE in Salt Lake City (2018). Moreover, Anita has made at least two important technical contributions while at Encana in her first year of a multi-year geochemistry assignment. She developed and validated a means of using inexpensive and easily obtained XRF elemental data to accurately estimate rock mineralogy and TOC. She also initiated the development of a produced oil library for Encana's Eagle Ford and San Juan asset teams to unravel sourcing and drainage of unconventional reservoir intervals. Anita currently serves and Encana's Data Steward for the Eagle Ford and San Juan oil libraries.


Anna Phelps’s participation and volunteerism in the RMS-AAP, Montana Geological Society, and local schools in Billings and Denver can be summed up with one simple word: “Driven.” Although she has less than two years under her belt, Anna has hit the ground running and seeks out any sort of volunteering opportunity she can. In addition to awards and research grants in school, Anna served on the 2015 winning IBA team for the RMS with the University of Montana. She wrote a paper on the Devonian/Mississippian Sappington Formation of the Bridger Range, MT, which is currently in press with the AAPG Bulletin. She currently sits as co-chair of the RMS-AAPG IBA competition and is the Publicity Chair for the 2017 RMS AAPG Meeting. In addition, she founded a networking group for young technical professionals at her employing company, SM Energy, served on the awards committee and educational outreach committees for the Montana Geological Society, as well as on the STEM Billings Business Advisory Council. She also continuously volunteers with STEM, science fairs, and Girls in Science events in Montana and Colorado, and recently joined the RMAG Mentorship Program. With young professionals like Anna serving in our industry, the future looks very bright indeed.


Marron Bingle-Davis started her career as a petroleum geologist when she joined Sunshine Valley Petroleum Corporation in 2011. She primarily works on Wyoming projects, with a specific focus on historic fields within the Powder River Basin. From the very start of her career, Marron has been an active volunteer with the Wyoming Geological Association (WGA). She served on the WGA Field Conference committee in 2013, 2014, and 2015 and was the committee chair in 2015 and editor of the 2015 Guidebook. She was the Core Workshop Committee Chair in 2015 and 2016. In addition, she served as Vice President of the WGA in 2013 and 2014 and is the current President of WGA. Volunteers like Marron Bingle-Davis make our societies great and the Rocky Mountain Section of AAPG would like to show our appreciation of her enthusiastic and diligent contributions with the RMS-AAPG Outstanding Young Professional Award.


Kassandra L. Sendziak (Anadarko Petroleum Company) was presented the Outstanding Young Professional Award. This year, the first year this award has been presented. Ms. Sendziak is a take charge type of person that gets the job done, both at work and in her volunteering. She was selected for this award in recognition of her presentations at several AAPG ACE meetings in addition to her service to the AAPG and the RMS-AAPG on the organizing committees for the annual meetings.

President Sue Cluff presents Outsdanding Young Professional Award to Kassie Sendziak.


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