Maria Richards, SMU Geothermal Laboratory Coordinator in the Roy M. Huffington Department of Earth Sciences researches and oversees Federal and State government grants and company contracts for SMU Geothermal Lab’s faculty, staff, and students.  She supports the Applied Geophysical Master’s program working with students to in the field, acquiring equipment, and necessary software. Her research is focused on the conversion of oil and gas fields into production of geothermal energy. Maria is President of the Board of the Geothermal Resources Council (GRC), the industry’s leading geothermal organization, and was a Named Director of the 2015-16 Board for the Texas Renewable Energy Industries Alliance (TREIA).  Richards’ projects at SMU’s Geothermal Laboratory vary from computer-generated temperature-depth maps for Google.org to on-site geothermal exploration of the volcanic islands in the Northern Mariana Islands.  Along with Cathy Chickering Pace, Richards coordinates the SMU Node of the National Geothermal Data System funded by the Department of Energy. Past research includes the Enhanced Geothermal System potential of the Cascades, Eastern Texas Geothermal Assessment, Geothermal Map of North America, Dixie Valley Synthesis, and the resource assessment for the MIT Report on the Future of Geothermal Energy. Maria has coordinated eight “Power Plays” conferences focused on geothermal energy in oil and gas fields. Through the SMU Geothermal Lab outreach efforts Maria assists numerous companies and students world-wide to disseminate information on geothermal energy and resources. Maria holds a Master of Science degree in Physical Geography from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville and a B.S. in Environmental Geography from Michigan State University.


There will be discussion of resources and the potential of geothermal energy that can be tapped into as a secure and renewable energy source. It is a resource that overlaps on skill sets and resources the oil and gas industry uses every day, creating a mechanism for extending the life of wells and fields. Come with questions and ideas about ways to bring these industries together and help improve our power industry.