“What is it you think you’re gonna find? Boredom sets into the boring mind.” - Lars Ulrich, Metallica
Weimer Distinguished Chair and Sedimentary and Petroleum Geology professor Lesli Wood isn’t a Metallica fan, but uses the song lyrics to explain that “life is too short to be boring or bored.”
And this Mines professor is far from boring.
Here are a few things you might not learn about Wood in the classroom.
1. She grew up in rural Arkansas where she first became interested in geology.
Wood grew up running around in the hills and creeks of central Arkansas. By the time she was a junior in high school, she already knew she wanted to major in geology at Arkansas Tech College.
“We backpacked several times through the Wind River Range in Wyoming and we camped in the Medicine Bow Mountains. I was immersed in nature and looked for an occupation that I could be in nature. I also grew up liking mysteries. Geology studies the mysteries of earth and other planets. It was the perfect science.”
2. She has a pot belly pig named Bartley.
Along with two Australian Heelers and a chiweenie (chihuahua-dachschund mix), Wood owns a pet pig. The pig named Bartley has his own Twitter account @TheMountainPig where he has more than a dozen followers and a few selfies.
“He is the ultimate miner, able to dig up a stretch of ground in record time—mostly placer mining. But I would not put it past him to don a hard hat and grab a pick, or knowing Bartley, he would be blasting.”
3. She is a singer and songwriter who has performed in four states.
Wood has played in several venues in and around Austin for the past 18 years with her band, The Spiceboys. Over the summer, the band played its fourth appearance at the American Association of Petroleum Geologists Annual Convention and Exhibition in Denver.
Wood has played in music festivals in Texas and Utah, and at a bar in Massachusetts.
Recently she released the solo album, Larger than Life, which is available on iTunes.
“Just like music, geology can be boring or fascinating. It is how you present it to the audience that matters, and I enjoy that stage.”
At Mines, Wood teaches three courses: Seismic Geomorphology, Integrated Petroleum Exploration and Development and Engineering Terrain Analysis.
“I study everything from river systems and dunes, all the way down to the deepest parts of the ocean.”
Most recently, she has been fascinated with researching sea-floor landslides.
“Up to 70 percent of the fill in some of the ocean basins around the world are these huge landscape deposits. We have a lot of affect on them, not only drilling for oil and gas, but also hazards that companies create drilling in deep water. Some of the largest tsunamis that happen in the world are because of landslides that perturb the seafloor.”
Wood hopes to create increased integration between her own research in submarine landslides and that of her colleague Paul Santi, who heads the Geology and Geological Engineering Department and has immense expertise in subaerial landscapes (mountain landslides).
“I always felt like those two communities—those studying ocean landslides and subaerial landslides—could learn a lot from each other. I have already seen the fruits of that relationship. It’s going to be an opportunity to set Mines apart from some other institutions, and I’m looking forward to that.”
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