AAPG Co-Chair, Hydrogen Storage, Rachelle Kernen @salt_sed_belle: A Day in the GeoLife Series

petroleum geology
Dr. Rachelle Kernen

NAME: Rachelle Kernen

CURRENT TITLE: American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG) Salt Basins Technical Interest Group Founder & Co-Chair
AAPG Women’s Network Co-Chair


Geology (Sedimentology-Stratigraphy)
Salt Tectonics
Petroleum Geology
Diversity, Inclusion, Women’s Issues
Writing Scientific Reports and Publishing Scientific Papers
Social Media Marketing



Bachelor of Science: University of Wisconsin Oshkosh (Geology)
Master of Science: New Mexico State University (Geology)
Ph.D.: The University of Texas-El Paso (Geology)

WEBSITE: https://www.linkedin.com/in/rachelle-kernen/

TWITTER NAME: salt_sed_belle

What’s your job like?

As a geologist, my job looks different almost every day! I am mostly working on publishing research from my PhD and writing grant proposals to fund future research. Besides writing, I work daily on nurturing my network and volunteering for non-profit societies such as the American Association of Petroleum Geologists. In addition to balancing my writing, research, and social activities, I am a strong advocate for self-care. It’s really important to get 8 hours of sleep, eat well, exercise, meditate daily, and spend time with loved ones such as your partner, family, and friends. I truly believe that taking care of one’s self is the key to long term sustainability and success in one’s career and life. 

What’s a typical day like?

A typical day is working from home due to quarantine restrictions! I usually have several Zoom calls a day and mostly work on writing and drafting figures for my research manuscripts and grant proposals. Once some of the restrictions lift from quarantine, I hope to be able to complete some field research and continue working toward publishing. I am a part of several What’s App chats where we send uplifting notes, messages, and articles to keep each other on task, inspired, and supported. During this time, it’s really important to feel like you are part of a community even though we are all physically separated. 

AAPG Co-Chair
Dr. Rachelle Kernen, American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG) Salt Basins Technical Interest Group Founder & Co-Chair
AAPG Women’s Network Co-Chair ©2020 Rachelle Kernen

What’s fun?

I love having a flexible schedule at the moment. I am able to exercise in between Zoom calls or take my dog for a walk. It’s easy to complete the daily tasks of life such as running to the grocery store as a ‘break’ during the day instead of having to schedule it after a long day of work. I enjoy the solitude of working from home and spending more time with my family and dog. In some ways, I feel more connected to my loved ones and enjoy playing the occasional game of Chess mid-afternoon. Prior to the pandemic, I was so busy traveling and working that I never had enough downtime or was able to enjoy a more simple lifestyle. I am grateful for my geology community, family, and friends. 

What’s challenging?

Everything about Post-PhD has been challenging. I was on the verge of moving to Australia for a postdoc when the pandemic hit in the United States. That job has been delayed or possibly gone and it’s been very difficult trying to figure out how to continue my career. Since I have experience working in the oil and gas industry, I have been reaching out to my network for potential job openings. Due to the downturn in oil and gas, there are very few jobs at the moment. I’ve always been told by senior geologists about ‘weathering the storm’ and finding myself unemployed during the pandemic has been quite a ‘storm.’ It has been the single most humbling experience of my life and I know good things will come.  

What’s your advice to students?

To overcome challenges, it’s really important to nurture your community and network. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and advice. There are so many people who are willing to help, you just have to be open to receiving advice and positive criticism. Never lose hope and faith in your ability to succeed and overcome challenges. Make self-care and emotional support a priority during the ‘storm’ and be kind to yourself and to others. It’s really important to surround yourself (both virtually and in-person) with positive, uplifting people who feel healthy and help to calm you. Educate yourself about healthy relationships and pursue those throughout your life. If you feel well on the inside and are able to be your authentic self, you will certainly attract and foster a successful career and personal life. 

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