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Weldon Hammond: Amy Shelton and V.H. McNutt Distinguished Professorship in Geology
UTSA College of Sciences Professor Weldon W. Hammond holds the Amy Shelton and V.H. McNutt Distinguished Professorship in Geology. The endowed professorship was established in 1998 by the trustees of the V.H. McNutt Memorial Foundation.
An expert in hydrogeology, Hammond heads UTSA's Center for Water Research (CWR), an interdisciplinary research center active in San Antonio and throughout Texas, Mexico and Central America. Through CWR contracts and partnerships, faculty and student scientists work with local communities to study water quality and improve water resources.
Vachel H. McNutt was a pioneer petroleum and mining geologist, most famous for his 1925 discovery of the first commercial potash deposits in the United States. His discovery broke the German domination of the substance used in munitions as well as in industry and agriculture. After his death in 1960, his wife, Amy Shelton McNutt, established the V. H. McNutt Memorial Foundation to support education and research in the sciences.
The Center for Water Research projects often take Hammond and his graduate students to remote areas in the developing world where access to clean water transforms community health. Endowment funds have supported the acquisition of sophisticated and expensive geophysical equipment -- such as a resistivity instrument -- that makes locating and drilling for water in remote locations more accurate.
"It's done a world of good," Hammond said. "All the graduate students have access to state-of-the-art geophysical research equipment."
One such ongoing project is in the Departamento del Paraiso in Honduras, to the south and east of Zamorano, an area of small agricultural villages with critical water problems. UTSA partners with the National Autonomous University of Honduras, training students and faculty, drilling and developing wells, and training locals in sustaining each project. With the data Hammond and his students have gathered in Honduras, he plans to submit a grant this fall to the National Science Foundation to support further water resource research projects in Honduras.
The fund also is used to support travel for staff and students to conferences and special training seminars, such as one held recently by the Advanced Geophysics Company in Austin.
"These funds give us the opportunity to work with students on problems that involve people -- it gives us the opportunity to find solutions at the community level," Hammond added.
"In view of the importance of water resources to the San Antonio area, the trustees of the Foundation requested that the Distinguished Professorship be awarded to a professor whose primary area of study and teaching is hydrogeology," said trustee Valerie Guenther. "We have been very pleased with Dr. Hammond's achievements and vision."