Cardinal Cadence Fall 2012

From geological discovery to enlightening young minds

Claudia LudwigClaudia Ludwig’s first thoughts when contemplating her ultimate career path were directed toward the stars as an astronomer. Her career focus eventually shifted from those ninth-grade dreams of studying the heavens to the depths of the oceans. Oceanography was considered a graduate-level degree at that time and required a bachelor’s degree in a related discipline to qualify for the graduate program. Geology was just such a program and would be her path to the oceans.

“I talked to a family friend from Beaumont who wanted to get a doctorate in geology from MIT,” Ludwig said. “He had contacted MIT to find the best undergraduate geology program that would funnel into their graduate program and was told Lamar was the best. What better recommendation could I have had?”

Armed with a new career focus and a new major, Ludwig began her coursework in geology at Lamar. The 1966 bachelor’s degree in geology led to her admission to the oceanography program at Texas A&M where she earned a master’s degree in geological oceanography in 1971. Unfortunately, the relatively new field of geological oceanography offered few job opportunities in Texas and those limited opportunities ultimately led to most of her geological discoveries on dry land as a petroleum geologist.

Although she spent the bulk of her career exploring for economic reserves of oil and gas on terra firma, she never gave up her passion for the oceans. A SCUBA enthusiast since her college days, Ludwig is an accomplished diver and underwater photographer. She has assembled numerous presentations on underwater marine life that she has delivered to many school and community audiences. As a member of the Houston Underwater Club, she was recognized as Diver of the Year, a service-related award, in 1989 and 2000.

“Since graduation, I turned my unfulfilled vocation in oceanography into an avocation of SCUBA and underwater photography,” she said. “Most of my dive trips were in the Caribbean: Grand Cayman, Cozumel, Honduras, Belize and San Andres. My favorite destination is the Bay Islands of Honduras.”

Her service activities to the field of geology and Lamar University include giving her time and talents to the Lamar Department of Earth & Space Sciences Advisory Board and as a member of the Houston Geological Society (HGS) since 1974. She has served on many committees for HGS during her 30-year relationship with the organization, earning the President’s Award in 1989, the Distinguished Service Award in 1994, the Honorary Life Member Award in 2003 and the Gerald A. Cooley Award in 2008, the highest award HGS can bestow.

Encouraging high school students to enter the field of geology has kept her involved with the Science and Engineering Fair of Houston for many years where she has served as president, vice president and as judge. She shares her knowledge and expertise with the Houston Museum of Natural History in the selection of students for the summer internship program sponsored by the Engineering, Science and Technology Council of Houston, of which she is vice president emeritus. HGS honored Ludwig with The Claudia Petra Ludwig HMNS Summer Internship for her continued long-time participation in ECH and the Science and Engineering Fair of Houston.

Ludwig has some candid advice for Lamar students who desire to enter the field of geology. “Be aware that geology, like engineering, has a spectrum of sub-disciplines and applications,” she said. “Historically, most geology students in the Gulf Coast go into petroleum work. Today, however, there are many more opportunities available to you in the non-petroleum arena for our region.”

by Larry Acker
October 2012