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The Owl Box
     
 


                                                   Tom Jones
An Autobiography
     5-22-2006

As did lots of Arvin High grads, I expected to go to Bakersfield College after high school.  However, our track coach, Mr. Winkler, arranged track scholarships for Gene Lundquist and me at Colorado State University.  My track career  was not too successful; I dropped it after two years for health and studies reasons.  A high point, however, was that I was on the 880-yard relay team that set a school record.  

I really liked Fort Collins and got a great education at CSU.  I majored in math, with a concentration in theoretical and applied statistics for the BS.  I stayed two more years to get an MS in statistics.  While there I minored in geology and decided to combine the subjects.  I then went to Northwestern University (Evanston, Ill.) for three years, getting a PhD in mathematical geology, a rare combination in those days. 

After finishing all the schooling in 1969, I got a job at Exxon’s (now ExxonMobil) geologic research center in Houston.  I mostly did work with computers, primarily in developing software.  I wrote some large, complex programs, primarily for making computer models of the subsurface.  These were the first such programs in the petroleum industry, though there are many now.  The models are detailed descriptions of the rocks in the reservoir and their properties, based on all available knowledge (geology, geophysics, well data, interpretation, etc.).  The models are used by reservoir engineers to plan how to develop the field so as to get the most oil and gas out at the least cost.  

At Exxon I also developed methods to use special programs in such a way as to incorporate geologic interpretations when making contour maps of the subsurface.  This led to a book that I co-authored in 1986: Contouring geologic surfaces with the computer.  I also did other sorts of things over the years that involved statistical and mathematical applications to geology (for example, uncertainty analysis).

I have been active in a professional society devoted to mathematical geology.  I was Editor-in-Chief of its international journal, and Book Review Editor for two journals.  I also was Secretary and a Council Member of the society. 

I retired from ExxonMobil in 2003 after 33 ½ years, reaching the position of Senior Research Advisor.  I really enjoyed the work and the time I spent there doing research.  One advantage of working with Exxon is the opportunity to travel.  Favorite places include New Zealand, England, Norway, and Vienna.  On the other hand, I have never seen a place as hot and humid as Dhahran (Saudi Arabia) in early September; however, Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) and Singapore run a close second.

I met my wife, Toby Turner, in 1980 on an airplane flight from Denver to Houston.  She was returning from a business trip for TexasGulf, later Elf Aquitaine Petroleum, where she became manager of Mergers and Acquisitions.  We married on Jan. 1, 1984.  The date seem odd?  Toby’s boss said that she was the only person he knows who would schedule a wedding based on income-tax considerations.

We have not had any kids.  However, Toby had a grown daughter, and now there are two grandchildren: boy and girl, 8 and 11.  They live in Virginia near Washington, DC.

We decided to stay put in Houston after my retirement.  I contacted Rice University and volunteered to teach a course, so was named an Adjunct Professor in the Earth Sciences Department.  Rice is similar academically to Stanford, but is quite a bit smaller.  I have taught the course “Analysis of Environmental Data” three times.  I also taught “Design and Analysis of Biological Experiments” once in the Biology Department.  Will teach this one again this fall.  It takes a lot of time to develop the courses, but I have found the whole process to be interesting and rewarding.

Toby was certified a Master Gardener after training by the Texas Agricultural Extension Service.  She has extensive (and expensive) gardens; I avoid participation, as I got enough of weeding in cotton fields at Arvin.  However, as part of the Master Gardener program, Toby gives talks to organizations about gardens, flowers, color selection, etc.  I have taken lots of pictures for her use, which has gotten me back to an interest in photography.