The Geoscience Alumni Leadership Endowment (GALE)

Samuel and Shelby Plitzuweit, Douglas Portis, and Carl Matzek established the Geoscience Alumni Leadership Endowment (GALE) fund to inspire and support students majoring in Geoscience at Winona State University.GALE is designed to enhance learning by providing funding opportunities for motivated students through an application process focused on faculty directed independent research. These opportunities include, but are not limited to, research and field expenses that would typically not be covered by funds from WSU. These supplemental research funds could include travel, specific research needs, and other expenses that provide an extraordinary learning experience for students. Funds may also be awarded for travel to professional geological conferences, field camps, expos and other avenues that benefit student’s educational or professional development.Disclaimer:GALE funds are not meant to replace existing college, department or research advisor funds.


As part of the application process, students must be able to clearly articulate their project’s potential impact by demonstrating a strong understanding of the questions they are trying to answer and whether those questions are relevant.
1) Each recipient must be an undergraduate enrolled full-time and in good standing at Winona State University (minimum of 12 credits per semester, Fall and. Spring).
2) Each recipient must be a geoscience major with 30 or more credits.
3) As part of the application process the student must submit a faculty sponsored proposal describing:
a) Research Grant: field location, basic research methodology, hypotheses, budget, timeline and expected outcomes.
b) Field Camp or Travel Grant: experiential learning opportunity that will enhance their academic development and budget (include timeline)
Note: If attending a conference AND presenting research, the student must provide an abstract to the conference and a notice of acceptance. Funds will not be disbursed
until these documents are received. If the abstract is not accepted, the GALE committee shall be notified and funds will not be awarded.


Our experiences at Winona State University readied us for the challenges we encountered in graduate school and industry. The Geoscience department, and research conducted within, prepared us to think independently, instilled confidence in our scientific development and ability to communicate our research effectively, as well asprovided the exposure to a multitude of geologic terrains and problems therein. We would like to enable current and future students with the same opportunities through researchfunding.

Samuel Plitzuweit
Samuel is a senior petroleum geologist at ExxonMobil, where he has worked since 2010.
Currently, he is working on the South America New Opportunities exploration team investigating crustal evolution and syndeformational deposition along the Atlantic rift margin of Brazil. Samuel has also spent time studying the regional stratigraphic framework of the Delaware Basin of the Permian region in west Texas, and also deep-water turbidite and debrite deposits from offshore Equatorial Guinea. Before joining ExxonMobil, he worked as a GIS analyst for Wiser Company, interpreting cultural features from satellite imagery.
In 2009, Samuel received his M.S. in Geology from Ohio University along with a GIS Certification. His master’s thesis focused on how channel network geometries and basin morphology influences hydrological responses which ultimately drive sediment transport, bedrock erosion, and longitudinal profile maintenance. He earned his B.S. in Geoscience from Winona State University in 2007 with a senior thesis focusing on the influence of local bedform structures on erosional controls in riffle-pool sequences. Samuel also attended the NSF-funded Research Experience for Undergraduates offered by the University of Southern Maine. During his internship, he studied transpressional deformation in localized areas adjacent to the Norumbega shear zone.
During his free time, Samuel enjoys traveling with his wife, Shelby, listening to vinyl records too loud, ensuring job security for groundskeepers at local golf courses, and attempting to set hooks in fishless Texas lakes.

Shelby Plitzuweit
Shelby is a petrophysicist at Apache Corporation, where she has worked since 2012. She works on the International New Ventures team integrating petrophysics, petrology, and geology. Currently she is working in the Cook Inlet basin, Alaska, studying the effects of compaction and diagenesis on reservoir quality. Previous to working at Apache, she spent two years at Baker Hughes analyzing unconventional resources through geochemical spectroscopy.
In 2010 Shelby received her M. S. in geology from the University of Minnesota, Duluth, where her research focused on metamorphic petrology, including pressure/temperature regimes and EDS spectroscopy. She earned her B. S. in geology in 2008, and did research including sedimentary flume experiments and a metamorphic paragenesis project in Maine.
Shelby married Sam Plitzuweit in 2011, who she met in the Winona State Geology department. They currently live in Houston, TX with their dog and two cats. In her free time she enjoys traveling, adding to her extensive rock collection, good food, good conversation.

Carl Matzek
Carl is a petroleum geoscientist for ExxonMobil, where he has worked since 2013.
Currently he is working as a GIS specialist for the Geoscience Computing Company, a division of ExxonMobil that serves as technical support for geoscience applications, and workflow consulting for other geoscientists in the company.
In 2012 Carl earned his M.S. in Geology from Central Washington University. His research was an analysis of sediment transport and storage in a high gradient mountain river pre/post a dam removal using repeat LiDAR surveys. In 2010 Carl earned his B.S. in Environmental Geoscience from Winona State University. While studying there he conducted research that included structure field mapping and microstructure analysis in thin sections of the Precambrian metamorphic Little Elk Terrane in the Black Hills, South Dakota.
Carl lives in Houston, TX in his free time he enjoys mountain biking, boating, traveling, hunting a variety of critters in North America, and cheering on my Wisconsin sports teams.

Douglas Portis
Doug is a senior petroleum geoscientist at Pioneer Natural Resources, where he has worked since 2010. He is currently a manager of the Permian Operations Geology group, drilling wells in the Spraberry and Wolfcamp intervals in the Midland Basin. Previously, Doug has worked on the Eagle Ford asset team as an operations geologist, development geologist, and regional geologist integrating geology, geophysics, petrophysics, and production/engineering
data to better understand the reservoir. Prior to his current role at Pioneer, Doug spent 6 months on the Shale Technology Group working on rock mechanics problems and rock failure due to induced seismicity in shale reservoirs.
Doug earned his M.S. in Geology from Northern Arizona University in 2009, where his research focused on delineation of the Paleoproterozoic Mojave/Yavapai boundary zone through structural analysis, pressure-temperature determinations, geochemical analysis of metamafic rocks, plate reconstructions, and vector models. He earned his B.S Geoscience (Geology Option) from Winona State University in 2007 where he worked on several research projects including cave passage development in Kentucky, sequence stratigraphic framework of the Franconia formation, XRF, XRD, and SEM analysis of the glauconitic member of the Franconia Formation, and structural and metamorphic characterization of a Paleoproterozoic shear zone in the Black Hills, South Dakota.
Doug lives in Dallas, Texas with his finance, her two kids, and his two boxers. He enjoys refining recipes for Texas-style BBQ in his outdoor kitchen, traveling, golfing with friends, and listening and playing music.

Geoscience Alumni Leadership Endowment (GALE)
College of Science & Engineering, Geoscience Department
Supplemental Questions
  1. Please submit a Faculty-sponsored proposal describing: a) Research Grant: Field location, basic research methodology, hypotheses, budget, timeline and expected outcomes, and b) Field Camp or Travel Grant: Experiential learning opportunity that will enhance your academic development and budget (include timeline).
  2. Letter of Recommendation - Faculty