North Dakota Petroleum Foundation Announces 2020 Scholarship Recipients

The North Dakota Petroleum Foundation (NDPF) has awarded its 2020 Al Golden Scholarships to nine outstanding students who are pursuing post-secondary education in geology, engineering, processing plant technology, science, technical skills or other careers related to the oil and gas industry. Each student will receive $2,000 for tuition in the 2020-2021 school year.

Al Golden Scholars are selected based on academic achievement, work or internship experience in the oil and natural gas industry or a demonstrated commitment to a qualified area of study. The outstanding awardees are:

Lexee Craig, Dickinson State University – Lexee Craig is a native of Powell, Wyo., and is attending Dickinson State University to pursue a bachelor’s degree in Organismal Biology, an associate degree in Geology, a minor in Soil Science and a minor in Earth Science. After graduating in the spring of 2021, she plans to pursue a career in soil rehabilitation.

Austin Karsky, North Dakota State University – Austin Karsky is a senior at North Dakota State University where he is pursuing a geology degree. He is a graduate of Trinity High School in Dickinson, ND, and has interned for KLJ in the Bakken for the last four summers. Karsky will graduate in the spring of 2021 and plans to move back to western North Dakota to pursue a career in the oilfield as a field geologist or as an environmental engineer.

Nicholas “Nick” Knapp, University of North Dakota – Nicholas “Nick” Knapp, from Maplewood, Minn., is majoring in petroleum engineering at the University of North Dakota, where he is also a research assistant at the Energy and Environmental Research Center. Nick hopes to work in the oil and gas industry as a drilling or petroleum engineer upon graduation in May 2021.

Chioma Onwumelu, University of North Dakota – Chioma Onwumelu is a PhD candidate in Geology at the University of North Dakota (UND). She currently works as a Geophysics Research Assistant with University of North Dakota Energy & Environmental Research Center. Onwumelu holds a B-tech degree in geology from Federal University of Technology in Owerri, Nigeria, and a Master of Science degree in geology from UND. She specializes in development of fossil and renewable energy such as formation evaluation and characterization of source and reservoir rocks. Chioma pioneered in and serves as president for different student organizations at UND. If the opportunity presents itself, she loves traveling and volunteering to great causes like teaching science to kids.

Ogochukwu Ozotta, University of North Dakota – Ogochukwu Ozotta is a Graduate Geophysics Research Assistant at the University of North Dakota (UND), Energy & Environmental Research Center (EERC), Grand Forks, ND. She conducts research focused on geologic storage of CO2, including geologic model construction, well log analyses, seismic data interpretation, fluid substitution modeling, reservoir simulation, geomechanical analyses, and assessment of enhanced oil recovery potential. Ozotta is currently in her second year PhD in Petroleum Engineering at UND where she is analyzing the impact of CO2 injection on the geomechanical and geophysical properties of the unconventional Bakken Formation and the potential for fault reactivation in the Williston Basin. She started chapters for the Association for Women Geoscientists (AWG) Williston Basin Chapter and the Graduate Women in Science (GWIS) in Grand Forks, ND, alongside others. She serves as the Vice-President (Eastern) North Dakota Geological Society.

Mark Sammons, University of Mary – Mark Sammons is a Junior at the University of Mary pursuing a degree in Mechanical Engineering. Homeschooled through high school, Sammons was inspired to pursue engineering through a challenging curriculum and great instructors. He has benefited from on-campus work opportunities and he is currently employed at Finley Engineering. A native of Bismarck, ND, Sammons’ goal is to find a promising career in North Dakota, and is grateful for the opportunities the North Dakota oil industry has afforded people like him who wish to make North Dakota their life-long home.

John Sturm, University of North Dakota – John Sturm, a native Saint Paul, Minn., is currently attending the University of North Dakota. Sturm spent three years working as a long-haul truck driver before arriving in Watford City, ND, to try his hand at driving in the Bakken. He spent more than three years there as an off-road driver before low oil prices affected his career. Sturm enrolled at UND to continue his education, where he is pursuing a degree in mechanical engineering with minors in mathematics and computer science. After graduating, he hopes to return to Watford City or the Bakken and pursue a career in the oil and gas industry.

Jared Thune, Bismarck State College – Jared Thune currently works for the North Dakota Oil and Gas Division in the UIC Department. After eight years of working for the state, Thune decided to further his education by earning a Bachelors in Energy Management from Bismarck State College. After graduating in the spring of 2021, he intends to use his career to advance within the agency. The Bismarck, ND, native also has a degree in Power Plant Technology from BSC.

Evan Wheeler, North Dakota State University – Evan Wheeler is senior at North Dakota State University and plans to graduate in the spring of 2021 with a degree in electrical engineering. Originally from Ray, ND, Wheeler grew up and worked on the family farm and also worked as an electrician in the oilfield during high school. After high school he went to college at NDSCS in Wahpeton for Electrical Tech/Robotics. Wheeler decided to expand on his studies and took up electrical engineering at NDSU with emphasis in the power industry. After graduating, he hopes to begin a career in engineering while maintaining ties to the family farm.

The Al Golden Memorial Scholarship Fund is named after North Dakota oil pioneer and the first member of the NDPC’s Hall of Fame, Al Golden. The scholarship is funded by individual and company contributions, as well as proceeds from the Williston Basin Petroleum Conference. Since 2008, the program has awarded more than $100,000 students pursuing a post-secondary education in energy-related fields.