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Geology Alumnus Cherished Sound Mentorship From First Department Chair

Bruce Sidner, 1971 Alumnus | B.S. Geology 
President, South River Exploration 


Bruce SidnerBruce Sidner, B.S. Geology 1971, credits former department chairman Art Mirsky with helping him to find direction in his career.

Bruce Sidner, one of the earliest geology alumni in the Department of Earth Sciences, credits Art Mirsky, the first department chair and longtime program supporter, for giving him encouragement and support that still resonates with him some 45 years later.

“I remember meeting Art Mirsky not long after I started at IUPUI, first as a biology major. I knew I wanted to pursue a degree in oceanography, but it wasn’t until I met Art that I came to understand how a geology degree could really be helpful for me,” said Sidner, who graduated with a B.S. in geology from IUPUI in 1971. He went on to get a M.S. and Ph.D. in geological oceanography from Texas A & M University.

“Art had such a way about him. He offered me just this slight change in direction and off I went,” added Sidner, who now is president of the Houston-based South River Exploration, an international oil drilling firm. “Art sent me on a path that has been enjoyable for me for more than 45 years, both professionally and personally.”

Dr. Mirsky, who passed away in June 2012, served as a field geologist and consultant in uranium exploration in the Southwest and Rocky Mountains before coming to IUPUI in 1967 to start a new geology program. He proudly served the Department of Earth Sciences even after his retirement in 1993, including a 26-year stint as the first faculty chair and most recently as a professor emeritus. He last taught his “legacy” course in geoscience writing in Spring 2012, just weeks before his passing. 

As an honor to Dr. Mirsky and his wife, Patricia, as well as his contributions to the department and students like Sidner, the department established the annual Drs. Arthur and Patricia Mirsky Memorial Lecture. Sidner spoke at the inaugural lecture in April 2013.

“It really was Art who imparted to the department this comfortable feeling. He helped make it a very professional program and a highly successful career launching pad for many earth science students,” Sidner said, adding that he still has fond memories of his time at IUPUI due to the environment created by Dr. Mirsky. Under his tutelage, Sidner said he became a committed student, which translated to an ambitious and successful career. 

Bruce SidnerBruce Sidner enjoys a moment with Dr. Pat Mirsky, widow to former Dept. of Geology Chairman Art Mirsky.

Sidner said he kept in close contact with Dr. Mirsky after he graduated and pursued what he thought was going to be a career with the U.S. Geological Survey. However, he found himself drawn to oil exploration after enrolling at Texas A&M, where the National Science Foundation supported a very active research effort at the time.

He went on to work for Exxon in the late 1970s, where he conducted seismic studies of oil reservoirs. He and some oil colleagues formed the Hall-Houston Oil Company, which later became the current consulting subsidiary, South River Exploration.

The company invests primarily in oil exploration along the Continental Shelf in the Gulf of Mexico. Sidner has seen the area transition from being dominated by a few major companies to a wide host of smaller companies exploring for oil in areas closer to the shoreline.

Learn more about the Arthur Mirsky Scholarship Fund or how you can help future Earth Science students through the IUPUI Geology Foundation Account: Student Experience Fund.