Outstanding Graduate Ryan Turner Follows His Passion for Coastal Bend Geology, Geophysics

By Darrell J. Pehr | Published: December 18, 2020

Outstanding Graduate Ryan Turner Follows His Passion for Coastal Bend Geology, Geophysics

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – A key word to describe Ryan Turner’s experience at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi could be “connections.”

The 2020 Outstanding Graduate from the College of Science and Engineering had always felt a connection to the coastline. Growing up in Corpus Christi meant regular trips to the beach.

“When I was a young boy my family always took me to the beach,” said Turner, an MS graduate student in Coastal Marine System Science. “I remember those days like they were yesterday. Having grown into an adult I realized I wanted to study and research in the environment I love and cherish. The availability to research the Coastal Bend environments has been a pleasure.”

Turner earned a bachelor’s degree in geology at the Island University and is now studying geophysics with special emphasis on seismic interpretation in Dr. Mohamed Ahmed’s geophysics lab.

“Having the additional skill set of interpretation and knowledge of geophysics allows me as a geologist to further investigate areas I would not have been able to before, specifically the subsurface,” Turner said.

During his undergraduate and graduate years, Turner connected with his fellow students and others in the community in activities like the Corpus Christi Geological Society, Corpus Christi Geophysical Society, Society of Exploration Geophysicists, American Association of Petroleum Geologists, and others.

“My first experience in an extracurricular activity on campus was being a member and officer in the geology club,” Turner said. “Having like minds converse about their mutual love for rocks and the outdoors was amazing. I made lifelong friends and learned a lot about the various fields associated with geology.”

Ryan is a recipient of the Corpus Christi Geological Society Scholarship and said he is very thankful to the society.

Turner is now working on a thesis that looks at underground oil and gas reservoirs formed during a transitional period in Earth’s history, including an ancient coastline of the Coastal Bend that was much farther inland than today’s coast.

In addition to his research, Turner has been part of the planning, construction, and installation of the Geophysical Test Site at the university’s Momentum Campus. Turner participated in field work on Padre Island National Seashore and conducted a study on the Newport Pass storm overwash area using ground penetrating radar to image the subsurface, investigating paleochannels from past storm events. He was able to do these activities and even more under Ahmed’s supervision.

Just as geology is a way to connect to the past, Turner feels his work now is paving the way to future connections in his professional life.

“Michael Haley, Don Colmenero, Lily Zavala-Peralez, and I founded the TAMU-CC Society of Exploration Geophysicists student chapter under the supervision of Dr. Mohamed Ahmed,” Turner said. “I hope I can leave this legacy to the next students who want to explore geophysics and want to meet people of like minds.”

Turner plans to go into researching coastal geomorphology in the Coastal Bend, eventually moving elsewhere and advising local officials on their coastlines. At some point he plans to pursue a Ph.D. and become a professor.

In the meantime, Turner is enjoying his work as a graduate student.

“I would say the greatest challenges that have been overcome are the balance of teaching, schoolwork, and research,” he said. “Every graduate student has to juggle these responsibilities, whether it is teaching or being a research assistant, it just seems like there isn’t enough time. Navigating these responsibilities while also trying to accrue funds for your project is difficult, but if it were easy everyone would do it. I have come to realize growth is challenging but at the end you arise stronger.”

Turner greatly appreciates the support he receives from Ahmed.

“He is a fantastic mentor,” Turner said. “He has guided me through the process of how to successfully conduct a research project; how to collect, process, and interpret geophysical field data; and shown me what it is like to be a professional research scientist, what it takes, and how you navigate the challenges along the way.”

Ahmed, Assistant Professor of Geophysics, is impressed with Turner’s passion.

“He has shown throughout his time in my Geophysics lab that he is driven toward research and exploration,” Ahmed said. “He has shown dedication to field work and has contributed to his colleagues’ field work without any hesitation. He is also a teaching assistant in senior level courses; these challenging courses are a heavy load of teaching in combination with his studies.”

For Turner, the connection to Texas A&M-Corpus Christi will always be important.

“My best memory is graduating with my Bachelor of Science in Geology,” Turner said. “It was such an amazing experience, walking the stage and finally completing the journey of the bachelor’s degree. The feeling is almost indescribable, the feeling of four years coming to an end and another chapter of your life opening. I am very excited for my future and the future of this research university.”