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Distinguished Alumni Award

The Distinguished Alumni Award honors graduates of the Department of the Earth and Environmental Sciences who have distinguished themselves through their professional achievements, service to the department, and contributions to society.

2018-Helen Foster

Foster started her pursuit of a PhD in the fall of 1942. Male students were deserting the campus for service overseas, and Kenneth Knight Landes, chair of the Geology Department, was worried that Camp Davis might have to close. So Landes conjured the idea of a concentrated summer training program for women who would specialize in petroleum geology — finding oil, that is, a critical wartime need — and Foster helped him to set it up.But she was a geological generalist. She didn’t want a career in finding oil. So in 1947, after a teaching stint at Wellesley College, she got a job at the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), the old-line federal agency that had charted the American continent.

Helen Foster Rock Star, at Michigan Today.