Leetaru Honored with Chancellor's Academic Professional Excellence (CAPE) Award

Hannes E. Leetaru, CAPE award recipient

The Chancellor’s Academic Professional Excellence (CAPE) Award program, now in its 26th year, honors the accomplishments and contributions of academic professionals, who perform a range of vital functions for the campus community. They provide critical support for administration, research laboratories, and educational programs, and offer important outreach programs throughout the state. Recipients are selected for their work, personal, and professional contributions.

Hannes E. Leetaru, Senior Petroleum Geologist with the Advanced Energy Technology Initiative at the Illinois State Geological Survey (ISGS), Prairie Research Institute, has made extensive contributions through research, teaching, and public service. “While his primary responsibility at ISGS is applied research,” wrote Scott Frailey, Senior Reservoir Engineer with the Advanced Energy Technology Initiative, “one of his true joys and passions is teaching, especially students and junior staff members. The majority of students are introduced to the oil and gas industry through his course, and several have pursued careers in this area as a result of it.” He has taught Geology 540 since 1998, when he proposed the course. Some of his students have said it is the most important class they took, opening opportunities for graduate school and employment.

Leetaru’s research has been critical to the discovery of an oilfield with about a half-million barrels of producible oil. His doctoral work helped explain the geology of one of the three most important oil-producing geologic formations in the Illinois Basin, and he continued the work by developing and researching ideas for refining optimal locations of oil-producing areas of the Basin. He is the principal investigator on a $12.8 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy. His grants have been instrumental in making the ISGS a world leader in the area of geologic storage of carbon dioxide. During his 24 years at the Survey, he has been active in professional societies, including the American Association of Petroleum Geologists; he has served on the Urbana Academic Senate; and he was part of a steering committee for the National Science Foundation EarthCube governance. “I would rank Dr. Leetaru as the foremost authority on the subsurface geology of the Illinois region,” said John H. McBride, professor and chair of the Department of Geological Sciences at Brigham Young University. “Without his scientific leadership, we would lack much of the geologic information for this region that has become so important for governing decisions on energy production and air pollution.”

2014 CAPE recipients