May 28, 2024
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For Denise Cox, petroleum industry is more than oil

Alumna is now president of Storm Energy Ltd.

Denise Cox '90 is immediate past president of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG). Denise Cox '90 is immediate past president of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG).
Denise Cox '90 is immediate past president of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG). Image Credit: Contributed photo.

Denise Cox ’80 is a leader in the petroleum industry who gives back. She’s president of Storm Energy Ltd. In Panama City, Fla., and immediate past president of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG), advocating for the industry and supporting sustainable development.

Cox is passionate about AAPG because it provides the technical and leadership resources that have opened doors for her, something she realized when geologist Susan Landon, MA ’75, gave an AAPG visiting geoscientist lecture at Binghamton.

“I saw in her what I could achieve,” Cox says. “I bought a one-way ticket to Denver for the AAPG Annual Convention that year because I knew I would be a petroleum geologist. That didn’t work out as planned.”

Cox networked in Colorado and, instead, landed a job with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) working on a uranium resource evaluation project in New Mexico.

While working at the USGS, she was a graduate student at the University of Colorado and took evening seminars at the Colorado School of Mines. She was also thankful she had listened to a high school teacher who suggested she study Arabic for her language courses at Binghamton.

“A PhD student doing research in Morocco announced he needed a field assistant, and said it would be helpful if there was a geologist who also could speak French and Arabic. And I could,” she says. “In Morocco’s High Atlas Mountains, I developed my fundamental understanding of geology. I’m glad I had the courage to stand up and say, ‘I could do that.’”

Her experience in Morocco led to her becoming a consultant and then a full-time geologist for Marathon Oil Company’s Denver research center.

“It was one of the best jobs you could get,” she says. “It allowed me to research petroleum reservoir rocks and learn from people who had more experience than me. It was a place that exercised the curiosity that a liberal arts education nurtures.”

She next transferred from Colorado to Midland, Texas, where she could apply her research to petroleum reservoirs — a life-changing career move for two reasons: she developed her understanding of field operations and met her husband, Kurt Cox. After 20 years with Marathon, she joined the company he launched, Storm Energy, and they continue to work on projects in Texas.

Cox points out that an oil man is an important part of Binghamton University’s history. Founding President Glenn G. Bartle — who joined AAPG in 1927 — taught junior college geology and as a consulting geologist discovered a Missouri gas field. He served as dean of two liberal arts colleges and would go on to be the driving force behind the establishment of Harpur College.

Bartle would be proud of Cox’s efforts to back Binghamton’s aspiring professionals. She established a geology scholarship through the AAPG Grants-in-Aid program and supports student chapters as a visiting geoscientist.

“I encourage every student to look at the petroleum industry,” she says. “It’s not just oil. We explore for natural gas, develop carbon capture projects and extract elements from subsurface brines for alternative energy. Be part of the solution. It’s easy to complain and protest, but harder to make things work. I believe in this generation, and I know a student will have the next great idea for sustainable energy development.”

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