Alumnus Update: Dennis Prezbindowski, Geosciences

Certified professional geologist and IPFW alumnus Dennis Prezbindowski (B.S., geology, ’73) has returned to his northeast Indiana roots after retiring from a globe-trotting career in the oil and gas industry. After IPFW, he did graduate work at Michigan State University (M.S., geology, ’74) and the University of Texas at Austin (Ph.D., geology, ’81). To relax during retirement, Prezbindowski has chosen to work on a collaborative project with IPFW’s geosciences faculty and students.

Prezbindowski’s interest in geology began, as so many do, with a childhood fascination with dinosaurs. Prezbindowski clearly remembers hunting for fossils in the stones of his driveway. He didn’t find any dinosaur remains, but did find other small fossils. While learning about fossils, he discovered the field of geology and was “immediately hooked.”

When the time came to choose colleges, for financial reasons, he chose to study geology at IPFW. This choice, according to Prezbindowski, the best thing that could have happened, “I never would have succeeded if it weren’t for IPFW’s geology department. I wasn’t ready to go to the main campus. If I’d have been thrown into a big department at a big university, I probably would have been lost. I received the attention I needed here, and with the help of my faculty mentors, my knowledge base and confidence grew each year.”

When he enrolled, Prezbindowski had a “rather fuzzy vision” of his future. He originally wanted to be a paleontologist, but then considered a career as a geology professor. “I was really influenced in a positive way by the geology professors at IPFW. I set my sights on going to the best graduate schools for my masters and Ph.D. studies.” Prezbindowski credits his IPFW experience with his later success in two renowned geology graduate programs.

During graduate school, Prezbindowski still planned to become a geology professor, until one remark changed everything. “My Ph.D. advisor made a comment regarding how it was a shame that so many of the geology professors had never worked full-time in industry, yet they were training the majority of their students to work in industry. So, I decided that I would work 3 to 5 years in the oil and gas industry to gain experience and then seek a teaching and research position at a university. Well, I found oil and gas and geological consulting challenging, rewarding, mentally stimulating, and financially rewarding, and I decided to make that my career.”

After graduation, Prezbindowski had multiple job offers but chose to work for Cities Service Oil and Gas Corporation in their research division. He worked with a team of geologists, geophysicists, and engineers to improve exploration and extraction of oil and gas. The work was difficult. His team was called in when something went wrong with the oil/gas extraction. The work was stressful because it often involved legal issues and the potential to lose lots of money. Despite this, Prezbindowski found the work rewarding: “my favorite thing on the job was the thrill of successful problem solving. I have gotten a great deal of satisfaction out of successfully solving complex, geological problems.”

Prezbindowski created a diverse career in the oil and gas industry: research geologist with Amoco Production Company; senior research associate with Texaco Upstream Technology; running his own consulting and exploration company; and, in retirement, working as a consulting carbonate and petroleum geologist. His work took him to China, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Russia, Norway, France, and across the United States.

In his northeast Indiana retirement, Prezbindowski is studying and mapping local rock quarries with Associate Professor Ben Dattilo (geosciences), Dattilo’s students, Oklahoma State University professor of geology Michael Grammer, and geologists from Irving Materials.

The IPFW collaboration began in 2015, when Prezbindowski visited Pipe Creek Jr. Quarry with the Professional Geologists of Indiana organization. Then, in spring 2016, Dattilo invited Prezbindowski to give a talk in the geosciences department. Afterward, they spoke about the potential implications of mapping Pipe Creek, put together a research team, and are currently working to create high-resolution drone photography and develop a 3D digital model of the rock system.

Prezbindowski credits IPFW, faculty from his undergraduate and graduate programs, and industry mentors for his successes. He believes that there is a bright future for geology, particularly for geologists, especially those who have a strong base in physics, chemistry, and engineering.

To learn more about Prezbindowski or the research project, contact dprez@petroleum-consulting.com.

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