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geologist Julie LeFever, core sample library
A library of core samples, similar to those housed at the Wilson M. Laird Core and Sample Library at the Univesity of North Dakota. Photo: USGS

ND research geologist honored posthumously

In recognition of North Dakota’s preeminent Bakken expert, the American Association of Professional Geologists (AAPG) honored UND research geologist Julie LeFever on Sunday with the Robert R. Berg Outstanding Research Award, given in recognition of a singular achievement in petroleum geoscience research.

State Geologist Ed Murphy said:

Julie was so thrilled to learn in November that she had won the award. After more than three decades of dedication to researching geology in the state, I think she is truly deserving of the award. Julie’s early work on the Bakken formation was the foundation for many companies looking to produce oil in North Dakota.

julie lefever, geologist

Julie LeFever. Photo: UND

Known to many as “Miss Bakken,” LeFever, who died in December, contributed to North Dakota’s ongoing oil and gas industry research throughout her long career as a research geologist. But she was best known as director of an impressive library of core samples collected from downhole oil and gas exploration housed at the Wilson M. Laird Core and Sample Library, which managed from 1989 until her death.

LeFever was far more than a librarian. With over 150 papers, articles, posters and maps regarding the geology of the Williston Basin, she was considered the country’s foremost expert on the Bakken Formation, according to a letter of remembrance published by the University of North Dakota. But her legacy goes beyond just her knowledge and the library she built. Sharing that knowledge with others who needed the information is a large part of her legacy.

It was her readiness to share her wealth of knowledge, much of it unpublished, with others which set her apart from most researchers. Countless industry geologists, professors, and graduate students often benefited from Julie’s spontaneous, one-on-one core workshops in the Wilson M. Laird Core and Sample Library.

LeFever was also honored in 2015 by the AAPG with the John D. Haun Landmark Publication Award in 2015 for a paper titled, “Does Bakken horizontal drilling imply a huge oil-reservoir base in fractured shales?” The paper was a collaboration with Leigh C. Price. Read more about LeFever’s legacy at the University of North Dakota website.


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