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North Dakota Petroleum Foundation Announces 2021 Scholarship Recipients

Published: Aug 16 2021
Photo Wyatt McGee scholarship recipient

North Dakota Petroleum Foundation Announces 2021 Scholarship Recipients

The North Dakota Petroleum Foundation (NDPF) today announced its 2021 Al Golden Scholars. NDPF awarded 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 2021-2022 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:

Hope Burdolski is a senior at the University of North Dakota studying secondary science education with minors in biology, middle level education, and music. A native of Bismarck, ND, she hopes to return home post-graduation as a teacher to introduce her future students to the world of science and the oil and gas industry. She is currently a STEM ambassador for the North Dakota Space Grant Consortium and the lead teacher for the Gateway to Science STEM adventure camps.

Ellie Jahner is currently going into her senior year at North Dakota State University, pursuing a degree in marketing. She is from Bismarck, North Dakota, and was a summer intern for the North Dakota Petroleum Council in 2021. While working there, she discovered her interest in the oil and gas industry. She hopes to one day work as a head marketing specialist for a petroleum company and educate the youth on the importance of oil and gas.

Luke Kenner grew up on a cattle farm in Northern Minnesota. After high school, he attended trade school for mechanics, worked a few years in the trades, and caught a break landing a job in the oil and gas industry. After working in the industry, he decided to pursue his bachelor’s in mechanical engineering at NDSU. Luke is currently a Junior and is planning to graduate in May of 2023.

Wyatt McGee was born and raised in Mandan, ND. He graduated from Mandan High School in 2020 and is currently attending Bismarck State College to get his Associates’ degree in Instrumentation and Control. Currently, he is completing a summer internship with Novaspect, building control panels for the oil and gas industry. After graduating in May of next year he plans on obtaining a full-time job in the North Dakota petroleum industry.

Tomiwa Oguntade is a PhD student and a graduate teaching assistant in the Department of Petroleum Engineering at the University of North Dakota (UND). His research is dedicated to improving oil recovery in unconventional reservoirs using chemical enhanced oil recovery methods. His study will improve upon the existing knowledge on the application of surfactant and foam in enhanced oil recovery of Bakken formation. This work will develop a predictive model for surfactant and foam adsorption, which is essential for computational modeling. He has conducted several types of research on enhanced oil recovery and the application of machine learning in the prediction of drilling fluid properties. In addition, with his passion for adding value to the body of academics, he has authored and co-authored seven (7) Scopus index journals and also eight (8) conference papers presented at Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) conferences.

Chioma Onwumelu is a PhD candidate in Geology at the University of North Dakota (UND). She works as a Research Assistant at UND Energy & Environmental Research Center. Chioma holds a B-tech degree from Federal University of Technology Owerri Nigeria; and MS degree from UND both in geology. Her research interest is in petroleum geochemistry, formation evaluation and characterization of source and reservoir rocks with applications to CO2 storage in geologic formation and geothermal energy exploration. Chioma loves traveling and volunteering for great causes like teaching science to kids.

Ogochukwu Ozotta is a Ph.D. candidate in Petroleum Engineering at the University of North Dakota (UND), where she is studying the impact of CO2 storage on the geomechanical and geophysical properties of the unconventional Bakken formation and the potential for fault reactivation. She currently works as Geophysics Research Assistant at the UND Energy & Environmental Research Center (EERC). She conducts research focused on geologic storage of CO2, including geologic model construction, well log analyses, seismic data interpretation, rock physics, reservoir simulation, geomechanical analysis, and data analysis. She pioneered chapters for the Association for Women Geosciences (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. Ogochukwu loves teaching science and geoscience to kids, especially the North Dakota T4 program (Tools Trades Torque Tech).

Mark Sammons is a Senior at the University of Mary and will be graduating this coming spring with a degree in Mechanical Engineering. Mark decided to pursue engineering because of his love for math and working with hands-on projects. The last three years at the University of Mary have been a fulfilling experience for him and he is looking forward to another great year of learning to complete his college courses.  Mark has gained work experience from on-campus work opportunities as well as Finley Engineering and Minnkota Power Cooperative. Mark is grateful for the North Dakota Petroleum Scholarship and is looking forward to the opportunity of starting an engineering career here in North Dakota.

John Sturm is a mechanical engineering student at the University of North Dakota. From St. Paul, MN, he took on a truck driving career that took him over the country’s highways for three years and into wild lease roads of the Bakken for another four. When the price of oil fell so low that it forced him out of his job, he decided to return to school to study engineering, and hopes to return to the oil fields after graduation to join in the fight to make the nation energy-independent. When he is not studying, he works as a technician at an electric bike shop, offers tutoring services, and cares for his elderly father who recently suffered a stroke.

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 to students pursuing a post-secondary education in energy-related fields.

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