Developmental Geologist, Cenovus Energy Inc.
BSc. Earth Sciences, SFU 2010
Taylor Olson earned her Bachelor of Science degree in 2010 with a major in Earth Science. Upon graduating and being chosen as SFU’s representative for the Canadian Society of Petroleum Geologists (CSPG) Student Industry Field Trip (SIFT), Taylor began a rewarding career in Calgary with Cenovus Energy Inc.
As part of her New Grad training, Taylor has worked on exploration drilling programs in Northern Alberta for emerging oil sands projects and reservoir characterization of Mississippian carbonates in SE Saskatchewan for Enhanced Oil Recovery methods. Her corporate field training has taken her to a multitude of locations: from local treasures, such as mud-clast breccia outcrops in Fort McMurray and Drumheller, to bioherms in New Mexico and modern-day ooid shoals in Turks and Caicos. Taylor currently works as a Development Geologist in the iconic Weyburn oil field and world’s largest CO2 sequestration project.
Taylor owns a house in Calgary with her boyfriend and two overweight cats. She has been an active member and volunteer with the CSPG since graduating in 2010, becoming the SIFT Committee’s youngest chair to date in 2013 and 2014, respectfully. When she’s not volunteering, she is painting abstract art for charity and pretending to be a foodie.
Why did you choose to go to SFU?
I heard many positive reviews about the PDP program and, at the time, I aspired to become an elementary school teacher. As an elective science, geology intrigued me with its promising career demand, outdoor field courses, and fascinating history of how our natural world evolved. I switched into the sciences, declared my major in Earth Science and never looked back! (BONUS: As a geologist, I have had several opportunities to mentor young people and be a guest lecturer…so in a way, I am fulfilling my desire to teach)
Where did you spend the most amount of time on campus?
When I wasn’t in class, you could find me huddled up in the library or at the pub…
What is your favourite memory from your time at SFU?
Oh goodness, there are too many to choose from! I have great late-night memories with my classmates at the core lab working until we were delirious, loading into the old yellow bus and wondering if we will need to get towed home, the Sedimentology trip to Salt Spring Island when we stayed at Green Acres (it’s the place to be!) and saw some amazing turbidite sequences, hiking 5500m above sea level to the top of an active volcano in Peru…my time spent at SFU was the best in my life.
Who was your favourite SFU professor and why?
All of the Earth Science professors at SFU are so inspiring! It was a privilege to learn from them. However, if I HAD to play favourites, I would place Dr. James MacEachern at the top of my totem pole. He was always pushing us to do better and always made time to thoroughly explain confusing subjects (asking James for information is like taking a drink of water from a fire hose!). Five years into my career, James and I still keep in touch. He is a wonderful mentor to have, and I am grateful for his career advice and friendship.
How has your SFU degree impacted your career?
James is a well-known figure in the geology community for his sedimentology and ichnofacies research, so my degree from SFU was instantly recognized by many petroleum geologists in Calgary and has opened many doors. It was a comforting realization during job interviews! The Earth department is small, but it carries a mighty reputation.
What is your favourite SFU snow story?
I lived in White Rock, which is normally a 90 minute commute by transit. During one snowstorm it took me five hours to finally make it back home…I hate the snow, although I have learned to tolerate it since moving to Calgary!
If you could give advice to students today, what would you tell them?
I would highly recommend researching the career path you are choosing before you dive too deep into your studies. Doing this could save you from a quarter life crisis when you graduate with a ton of student debt! And, of course, stay passionate.
What is the one thing about SFU that must not change?
As much as I support the growth of SFU, I would hate to see it grow too big too quickly. I feel like my undergrad experience was unique – SFU became my second home, and the people I met became my second family! I hope it will not lose that intimate quality, as it seems rather special for a world-renowned institution.