Earth Scientist Recognized for Oil System Safety Research

Ann Cook, assistant professor of earth sciences, is one of 10 outstanding junior scientists nationally recognized by the National Academies for exceptional leadership, past performance and potential for future contributions to improving oil system safety. Cook, the recipient of a NAS Gulf Research Early-Career Research Fellowship, will be mentored by earth sciences Professor Steven K. Lower. Fellows receive $76,000 for research expenses and professional development.

Cook uses analytical data like geophysical well logs, seismic data and sediment cores along with mathematical models to investigate natural gas hydrates, according to the National Academies award announcement. Gas hydrates -- methane gas molecules trapped within an ice-like cage of solid water -- occur worldwide within sediments on continental slopes.Study of gas hydrates is critical for several reasons. The methane contained within them could be a commercial energy resource in the future, the “melting” of gas hydrate may trigger submarine landslides or could affect petroleum drilling and production, and they may play a key role in climate change by serving as a source or sink for atmospheric methane.