Nyblade appointed co-director of Marcellus Center for Outreach and Research

Andrew Nyblade, professor of geosciences, has been named co-director of Penn State’s Marcellus Center for Outreach and Research (MCOR), effective immediately. He joins Thomas Murphy, education and strategy manager with the Penn State Extension Marcellus Education Team, in leading MCOR.

MCOR was formed in August 2010 as a Penn State education, research and outreach initiative focused on shale energy. The center extends science-based information to stakeholder groups including state agencies, elected officials, the natural gas industry, landowners, environmental organizations, and the public to protect the Commonwealth’s natural resources, while advocating for a science-based and responsible approach to handling the state’s natural gas reserves.

"Since its inception, MCOR has played a key role in bringing knowledge from across the University to bear in addressing issues related to shale-gas development," Murphy said. "Andy Nyblade's research expertise and leadership will be significant assets in advancing the center's mission, and I look forward to working with him to continue our progress."

MCOR's mission

MCOR’s mission is to pursue science-based research and outreach with the goal of understanding both the resource as well as the environmental, economic and social challenges posed by its exploration and development. Nyblade’s primary objective in his new role will be to strengthen the center’s research initiatives to address gaps in scientific knowledge surrounding Marcellus development.

“We have an exceptional team of researchers, including geoscientists, hydrologists, ecologists, social scientists and energy engineers, working on many of the most critical areas of research related to Marcellus Shale development,” said Nyblade. “One of the main goals of the center is to harness this expertise in tackling the environmental, economic and social challenges posed by its exploration and development.”

Science and shared knowledge in pursuit of clean energy

Natural gas is often cited as an important “bridge fuel” for the future and as a low-carbon energy source.

“Natural gas has the potential to be a bridge to a fully sustainable energy economy,” said William Easterling, dean of the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences. “But it is critically important that the Marcellus be developed in an environmentally responsible way, and Andy has the skills needed to lead the science to develop natural gas as a clean energy solution.”

Since its inception in 2010, MCOR has provided educational programs to Pennsylvania residents, elected officials, landowners and business groups on topics related to Marcellus Shale.

“Penn State Extension is a proven model to deliver unbiased, science-based information to the citizens of the Commonwealth,” said Rick Roush, dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences. “As part of the college's land-grant mission, extension since 2006 has delivered programs related to shale-gas development to more than 1 million people across the state and globally, providing important economic and environmental information to landowners, communities and other Marcellus stakeholders.

“Our partnership with the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences to support the Marcellus Center for Outreach and Research is essential in delivering this knowledge. We are pleased that Andy will join Tom in leading this vital initiative,” said Roush.

Penn State as the energy university

The Marcellus Shale deposit lies beneath Pennsylvania, New York, Ohio and West Virginia and, according to data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, is estimated to hold enough natural gas reserves to fuel our nation for decades.

“Currently, the volume of natural gas produced in Pennsylvania is second only to Texas,” said Nyblade. “The reserves under our state have the potential to help the nation in its push for energy security and independence, but we need to exploit these reserves in a way that is environmentally sustainable.”

Penn State is a leader in energy research, teaching and outreach, and Penn State President Eric Barron recently launched an initiative to organize this collective knowledge to further position Pennsylvania as a world energy leader.

“MCOR will contribute tremendously to President Barron’s plans to position Penn State as the energy university — the ‘go to’ institution for any aspect of energy,” said Easterling.

About Nyblade

Nyblade joined the Penn State faculty in 1994. He also is an honorary professor in the School of Geosciences at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa. Nyblade is a founder and director of AfricaArray, a multifaceted initiative supporting science capacity building in Africa and the U.S. with a strong emphasis on enhancing diversity in the geosciences.

Nyblade, an expert in applied seismology, is the lead investigator on a statewide seismic monitoring network project. Questions have been raised about a possible link between hydraulic fracturing or fracking, a process used to extract gas from unconventional gas reserves, and earthquakes. The network is providing insight into the relationship between fracking and earthquakes large enough to be felt and possibly cause damage.

Nyblade is a member of the American Geophysical Union, where he was elected a Fellow and received the Paul G. Silver Award for Outstanding Scientific Service. He is also a member of the Seismological Society of America, the Geological Society of America, and the Society of Exploration Geophysicists.

Nyblade graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Wittenberg University, earning two bachelor of arts degrees, one in earth science education and one in geology. He earned his master’s degree in geophysics from the University of Wyoming and his doctorate in geology from the University of Michigan.

Nyblade succeeds Michael Arthur, professor of geosciences, as co-director of MCOR.

MCOR is part of the Penn State Earth and Environmental Systems Institute (EESI) and is supported by Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences, College of Earth and Mineral Sciences, Outreach and Online Education, and the Penn State Institutes of Energy and the Environment (PSIEE).

Media Contacts: 
Last Updated September 23, 2016