“I had a background in real specific aspects of structural geology. I would guess, at the time, there might have been no more than 10 people in the country with that background.”

Like many retirees, Rick Groshong ’65 is quite the frequent flyer. Ten to 12 times a year, the former geology professor and author hops on a plane from northern Alabama, often bound for far-off places.

In recent years, he’s ventured to Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Egypt. Groshong recently traveled to Kuwait and will soon find himself in Trinidad, London, and Geneva.

But most of the time, he’s no tourist. Instead, Groshong travels far and wide to teach oil and gas professionals about the subsurface geological structure of oil fields. "Just about every place where they produce petroleum, I have been, or somewhere near by," he says.

Groshong came to Bucknell from northern Ohio, where he collected and identified rocks and minerals, a hobby he picked up from his grandfather, a “rock hound.” Studying geology at Bucknell, he developed close relationships with professors Jack Allen and Dick Nickelsen, with whom he remains in touch. 

After earning graduate degrees at the University of Texas–Austin and Brown University, Groshong taught for three years at Syracuse University. He left for a research job in 1973 with Tulsa, Okla.–based Cities Service Oil Company. He came to the job after reading an ad that, he says, "sounded like they wrote it specifically for me."

“I had a background in real specific aspects of structural geology,” Groshong says. “I would guess, at the time, there might have been no more than 10 people in the country with that background.”

He worked there for 10 years while beginning his teaching endeavors. Next he took a professorship at the University of Alabama, where he remained for 20 years and is now professor emeritus. He’s also the author of 3-D Structural Geology, one of the best-selling graduate-level geology texts published by Springer.

Groshong and his wife, Katherine Hills Groshong ’65, an artist and gallery owner, split their year between Tuscaloosa, Ala. and Grand Lake, Colo. That home, located at the western entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park, allows him to pursue his love of the outdoors and all its geological structures.

This year, the Geological Society of America honored Groshong at its annual meeting, holding an all-day session devoted to his accomplishments in studying the deformation of sedimentary rocks. Colleagues and friends gathered at the event to praise his work and present research on his favorite topics.

Asked about the tribute, Groshong sounded a humble tone. “It was a combination of feeling very honored and being very embarrassed.”

Posted Summer 2007

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