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2020 Earth Science Achievement Awards

On February 3rd, 2020 Earth Science Achievement Awards were presented to Dr. Margaret (Peggy) Barroll, for an outstanding career in public service in the Hydrology Bureau of the Office of the State Engineer, and to Nathan C. Myers, for an outstanding career of scientific research with the United States Geological Survey (USGS). These awards were sponsored jointly by the NM Bureau of Geology & Mineral Resources (NMBGMR) and the NM Energy, Minerals, & Natural Resources Department (EMNRD).

“In this 17th year of presenting the Earth Science Achievement Awards, I am deeply grateful for the dedicated effort put towards research and public policy by our current and past award winners” said New Mexico Bureau of Geology Director Dr. Nelia Dunbar.  “It’s a privilege for me to be able to honor the excellent scientists and policy makers who support the well-being of our state.”

“EMNRD is pleased to reengage in this award that elevates important work in the earth sciences,” said EMNRD Deputy Secretary Todd Leahy. “It was an honor to recognize two public servants today who have dedicated so much of their careers to the people of New Mexico.”

Public Policy & Service

2020 ESAA Award recipient: Dr. Peggy Barroll
Dr. Margaret (Peggy) Barroll

Peggy Barroll was employed as a hydrologist with the Office of the State Engineer in Santa Fe from 1991 to 2017. She was well prepared for this job by her education at New Mexico Tech, where she obtained an M.S. degree in hydrology in 1984, followed by a Ph.D. in hydrology in 1989. Her dissertation research focused on analysis of the Socorro hydro-geothermal system, combining basic geology, measurements of groundwater temperatures, and hydrogeologic modeling to decipher the groundwater flow in the Socorro area. During her tenure with the State Engineer, she used her geoscience background and modeling skills to develop groundwater models for water-limited areas in New Mexico. Her models were used as the basis for a variety of legal and scientific water-management decisions in critical groundwater basins, including the Albuquerque Basin, the Lower Rio Grande basin, the Taos and Carlsbad areas, and the aquifer systems of the lower Pecos River. She also worked to develop modeling systems that combine groundwater and surface water models, and that simulate the operations of surface-water irrigation districts. Peggy’s well-respected hydrology research has been widely used by state and federal agencies, consultants, tribes, citizens, and university researchers. She has also worked to develop guidelines and regulations for prudent water management in New Mexico, and has provided litigation support for the state. Although recently retired, Peggy has continued to be involved in research related to the Rio Grande Compact, which governs the distribution of Rio Grande basin water among New Mexico, Texas, and Colorado.

Research & Education

2020 ESAA Award recipient: Nathan C. Myers
Nathan C. Myers

Nathan Myers joined the USGS in 1987 as a “Volunteer for Science” in the Kansas District and shortly thereafter was hired as a Hydrologist. In July 2000, Nathan accepted a position as a Studies Section supervisor in the USGS New Mexico Water Science Center (NM WSC) in Albuquerque, NM, fulfilling his long-held dream of living and working in the western U.S. Once in New Mexico, Nathan supervised a diverse team of technicians and hydrologists whose projects included work at Cannon Air Force Base, White Sands Missile Range, Questa Mine, the Sacramento Mountains, and Lee Acres Landfill near Farmington, NM. During his tenure as a Studies Section supervisor, project chiefs under Nathan’s direction executed 39 projects and published 50 reports. After 13 years as a supervisor, Nathan became the Groundwater Specialist and Senior Scientist for the NM WSC. In this position, Nathan developed and advised on many groundwater-related scientific investigations throughout New Mexico for USGS Federal, State, Tribal, and local cooperators and stakeholders, including setting the vision for the science conducted and developing a plan for execution. These projects include but were not limited to: groundwater-flow modeling of the lower Rio Grande Basin; a statewide groundwater-level monitoring network; several groundwater-related projects in the Albuquerque basin; and a water-resources assessment of the Rio San Jose Basin. Finally, Nathan developed and managed the Kirtland Air Force Base fuel-plume project, which is the largest single active project in the NM WSC. Nathan’s scientific body of work is incredibly impressive, but a significant portion of his legacy is the staff he mentored, the USGS leadership he advised, and his impact through personal interactions with stakeholders. Through his influence on the next generation of scientists, his contribution to the science produced by the USGS in New Mexico will continue long into the future.


Created in 2003, the Earth Science Achievement Awards generally honor two recipients, one for “outstanding contributions advancing the role of earth science in areas of public service and public policy” and the other for “outstanding contributions advancing the role of earth science in areas of applied science and education.Nominations for these awards are welcome from the general public and may be made directly to the director of the New Mexico Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources.

Nominations for next year's awards are welcome from the general public.

- See past award recipients -

2020 ESAA Award recipient: Dr. Peggy Barroll
2020 Earth Science Achievement Award recipients accompanied by several prior recipients.
From left to right: Dr. Gary King (2010), Steve Harris (2019), Dr. Bruce Thomson (2010), William C. Olson (2012), Dr. Fraser Goff (2015), Dr. Peggy Barroll (2020), Marcy L. Leavitt (2014), John Fleck (2013), Nathan C. Myers (2020), Consuelo Bokum (2006), and Dr. John W. Shomaker (2004). Other prior recipients were also present at the ceremony.