Olumide Adedeji, a Ph.D. candidate in the Earth and Planetary Science Department at the University of New Mexico (UNM), achieved a remarkable milestone by securing the first-place prize at the National Elevator Pitch Competition, organized by the Houston Geological Society (HGS). The annual event, in collaboration with prominent energy companies, is a pivotal platform for the intersection of industry and academia.

HGS, a central hub for geoscience aficionados in Houston, champions education, specialized committees, and affiliations with renowned organizations such as the American Association of Petroleum Geologists, Geophysical Society of Houston, and Society for Independent Professional Explorationists. The event showcased over 100 students, who were tasked with creating a compelling 2-minute video encapsulating their research, accomplishments, and graduate journey.

Olumide Adedeji collecting multichannel seismic reflection data off the coast of Vancouver and Southeatern Alaska abroad the Research Vessel Marcus G. Langseth
Olumide Adedeji collecting multichannel seismic reflection data off the coast of Vancouver and Southeatern Alaska abroad the Research Vessel Marcus G. Langseth

Chevron, a leading player in the energy industry, sponsored this year's competition, further elevating the prestige of the event. The challenge was to craft an elevator pitch, encapsulating one's research journey and accomplishments. Creativity and personal anecdotes played crucial roles in this high-stakes competition.

Adedeji, driven by the desire to answer the classic interview question "Tell me about yourself", artfully weaved his extensive three-year research journey at UNM into a captivating narrative. He showcased his instrumental work during a 40-day marine expedition off Vancouver and southeastern Alaska's coast, detailing the rigorous process of gathering pioneering marine reflection seismic data and subsequent meticulous data processing and interpretation.

Throughout the video, Adedeji emphasized the invaluable skills he has honed, including effective communication, collaboration, and technical expertise in marine operations. He underscored that his groundbreaking findings presented at international conferences has led his appointment as the global graduate student representative on the American Geophysical Union’s Tectonophysics global executive committee. He also had the honor of receiving the Zancada Research Excellence Award from UNM's Office of the Vice President for Research office earlier this year.

Adedeji’s eloquent pitch culminated by highlighting how his skills, accolades, and experiences position him as a valuable asset to any industry player. He took home the $250 top prize award. Watch Adedeji’s elevator pitch here.

In acknowledging the support of Chevron and the recognition from HGS, Adedeji expressed his deep gratitude and shared his excitement for the journey ahead.

“Receiving the first-place award is not just an accolade; it's a deeply emotional validation of the countless hours, relentless dedication, and the heart and soul I've poured into my research and studies. Every late night, every challenge faced, and every moment of doubt feels worth it. This award is a beacon, illuminating the path I've chosen in geoscience, and it fills me with an overwhelming sense of pride and gratitude,” expressed Adedeji.  “The award from such a prestigious competition is a reminder that passion, perseverance, and the pursuit of knowledge can truly make a difference. It's not just about the technicalities of my work; it's about the stories, the journeys, and the lives touched by the science we do.”

Olumide Adedeji on the Research Vessel Marcus G. Langseth
Olumide Adedeji on the Research Vessel Marcus G. Langseth

His research focuses on studying crustal scale deformation along the Queen Charlotte Fault, shedding light on seismic activities affecting the coast of western Canada and southeastern Alaska. His work has been groundbreaking, revealing crucial insights into crustal deformation in this enigmatic fault system. He has had the privilege to present these findings at renowned conferences, including the American Geophysical Union (AGU) and the Seismological Facility for the Advancement of Geoscience (SAGE) meetings.

Adedeji also has been working in collaboration with Dr. Brandon Schmandt, where he has ventured into the captivating world of seismoacoustics. With the aid of thousands of seismometers of different kinds and array-based processing algorithms they’ve been able to bring compliment the discrimination of low-yield (small) explosions and low magnitude earthquakes employing the detection of ground-coupled airwaves. In essence, Adedeji’s research primarily revolves around understanding and interpreting seismic data and geological features. He is passionate about both data collection and the application of advanced processing techniques, which together provide profound insights into geological and seismological phenomena.

“The University of New Mexico (UNM) has been a cornerstone in shaping my professional journey. The Seismo Lab, under the guidance of Lindsay Worthington and Brandon Schmandt, has fostered a culture of innovation and collaboration that has profoundly influenced my research approach. Working alongside two co-advisors on distinct projects has allowed me to delve into groundbreaking research topics in seismology, tectonophysics, and seismo-acoustics, making notable contributions to these fields,” said Adedeji, “The entire EPS (Earth and Planetary Sciences) team at UNM, from the diligent front office staff handling administrative tasks to the dedicated research faculty, has played a crucial role in making my graduate school experience enriching.”