Laura Reich; Featured Alumni
- Hometown/High School?
- Where do you reside now?
Houston, Texas for now; have retirement property and am building a home in Santa Fe, New Mexico
- What degree(s)did you obtain from UWM and when?
BS Geology 1987, MS Geoscience (Geophysics) 1989
- What was your field of interest in Geology at UWM?
I liked everything but Miller indices and paleontology, I really liked sedimentology & stratigraphy but didn't do enough of it (there weren't enough course offerings)
- What brought you to UWM to study Geosciences for your degree?
My mother was in college at UW-Waukesha when I was in high school and we used to talk about her physical geography class a lot so I signed up for it my first semester at UWM (taught by the very cool Professor Mick Day). I strayed away for a while and tried the engineering route and then came back to take Physical and Historical Geology in the same semester. Once I was exposed to Earth history by Dr. Emily Giffin I never turned back--she was incredible.
- What did you enjoy most about the department, UWM, and Milwaukee?
I loved Sabin Hall and am forever bummed the department moved; I loved the Geology club and all the hanging out; I loved being a grad student and hanging out in the Temporary Building (is it still "temporary"?); I loved going to field camp and then spending senior year with all the same people including 13 of us who graduated together. I worked in the Recreation Center for 4.5 years, I was sort of a fixture on campus and in the student union--I think UWM has one of the best student unions in the country, and how about that magnificent library. I used to visit the UWM campus every time I came back to Milwaukee for a visit but that became less interesting with all the new development, now I mostly stick to the Roman Coin on Brady St -- I plan to rent the upstairs apartment one summer some day. I was in Milwaukee this summer for Summerfest at the rock stage jamming to Joan Jett and I won $400 at Potawatomi on the Crabmania slot machine. I also can't eat enough German food when I visit, and while Texas is "the Friendly State," there are no better people than Milwaukeeans.
- What is your current job (or field of study) and how would you describe it to one of our current students (e,g,m what do you do, how rewarding is it)?
I have 21 years experience in oil and gas exploration. My background is geophysics and I have spent most of my years interpreting seismic data, making maps and generating prospects to drill. A few years ago my career shifted towards leadership and I am currently an Exploration Manager in charge of regional studies for the Gulf of Mexico. The first career job was with Amoco Production Company and I currently work for Marathon Oil Company. I've worked a lot of U.S. basins as well as international basins in the Far East and South America. One of my favorite projects was working the Michigan Basin because that's as close as I can get to working Wisconsin in the oil patch.
- Why did you choose this career?
I'm not sure why -- I think because I like the large scale geology petroleum offers over environmental plus the pay is significantly better. The one negative I didn't consider is where I'd have to live, I like Houston okay enough but it's not my dream town. I miss Milwaukee and being with "my own kind." However, we do have an outstanding Green Bay Packer club.
- What's been your best experience in geology (or your career) so far?
The geologic field trips starting at UWM with field camp being the #1. My career has sent me to great places like Ireland, South Africa and west Texas to study the best rock exposures. I also have a personal goal to go to a new National Park every year - this year I finally made it to Yosemite. I've done everything at the Grand Canyon: south rim, north rim, hiked to the bottom Phantom Ranch, and raft float. I sometimes wish I were an interpretive ranger for the park service.
- In your career, have you gotten the opportunity to travel or to work with people as part of your job?
I work with people all the time. In my last role I managed 16 people from 9 different countries and even we Americans were from all corners of the U.S.. I haven't worked too much international but have traveled to Canada, Australia, China, and Hong Kong on business. One of the best work trips I've had was when our whole team went to New Orleans for Mardi Gras. I was pretty happy about traveling to Traverse City, Michigan too.
- What trait or thing(s) that you learned while in Geosciences at UWM has allowed you to succeed in your career?
The overall Midwest work ethic has been an advantage. The number one thing from UWM that allowed me to succeed (other than stating the obvious of getting two Geo degrees) was Dr. Norm Lasca's 2 credit business/professional undergrad course. It is so important to appreciate the non-science aspect of a career and be sure to grow in those areas. The rigors of a graduate degree and writing a thesis were vital too -- I look at every new project as a thesis or dissertation. I also did work study with the DNR. I strongly advise everyone to work in your career path during college either in the work study program or with an internship, I didn’t do enough.
- Do you have any advice that you would give to our current students about their education or in selecting a career once they graduate?
Do as my father told me when I was 18: chose a career (or degree) in something you love and the rest will follow. Passion plus determination are an excellent formula for success.
- What is/was the hardest thing that you had to do in your career?
Maneuvering corporate politics and writing employee evaluations. As far as Geoscience, I'm not very fond of working detailed production analysis, I much prefer larger-scoped exploration. But basically I LOVE my career and can't quibble about any aspect. It's hi-tech, I work with smart people and what we do is important for society and the economy.
I’d be happy to answer further questions from students, faculty or alumni: ChzHead005@aol.com