Geosciences Team Wins Regional Competition, Advances to International Event

March 20, 2015

UM geosciences students (from left) Brianna Berg, Cody Bomberger, John Zupanic, Anna Phelps and Clayton Schultz, who won the regional American Association of Petroleum Geologists’ Imperial Barrel Award, stand with their mentor, UM research faculty member Michael Hofmann. MISSOULA – A team of University of Montana geosciences graduate and undergraduate students won the regional American Association of Petroleum Geologists’ Imperial Barrel Award on Saturday, March 14. The students will advance to the international competition Friday and Saturday, May 29-30, in Denver.

Students Anna Phelps, Brianna Berg, Cody Bomberger, Clayton Schultz and John Zupanic presented their analysis to a panel of industry experts who selected a winner based on technical findings and presentation quality. In their first attempt at the competition, the UM students defeated seven other Rocky Mountain region institutions, including Brigham Young University; BYU, Idaho; Colorado School of Mines; New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology; University of Utah; Utah State University and the University of Wyoming.

The team of UM students was mentored by UM geosciences researcher Michael Hofmann. They attribute their success in part to collaboration with UM alumni, especially Dave McGee, who volunteered his time as a project consultant remotely from Denmark.

The students reflect the UM community and philosophy by building success with a diverse group of undergraduate and graduate students, faculty and alumni working creatively together. 

“The past eight weeks have been an incredible experience,” said Berg, one of the team’s undergraduate members. “I am so glad that I got to compete in the Imperial Barrel Award competition with teammates that I also consider friends. It was stressful, but the hard work paid off and we can now proudly call ourselves the 2015 Rocky Mountain Section IBA winners.”

For more information on the competition, visit

Contact: James Staub, UM geosciences department chair, 406-243-2341,