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Recognising Oil Search’s brilliant women in science - introducing Velencia Komun, Oil Search Graduate Geoscientist

Recognising Oil Search’s brilliant women in science - introducing Velencia Komun, Oil Search Graduate Geoscientist

“You can be a scientist too!"

Geology was considered a purely male discipline in the 1800s. During that time, women had limited access to educational resources such as libraries, and even classrooms, if men were already seated in them. Those were challenging times for women, but Florence Bascom pursued her love of science and went on to make innovative contributions to the field of geology and is considered to be the first American woman geologist.

Bascom paved the way for women everywhere, including graduate geoscientist Velencia Komun from Western Highlands, who recently joined Oil Search through its graduate development programme.

“I was inspired to become a geologist after I read about Florence Bascom, ‘the Pioneer of Women Geologists’. Even though she lived so many years ago in America, her legacy lives on to this day,” said Velencia who achieved a milestone for herself and her highly supportive family by graduating with a Bachelor of Sciences degree in Geology from the University of Papua New Guinea.

“Not only was it a significant milestone for me, it opened doors to so many opportunities, each a milestone in itself such as this opportunity I now have with Oil Search,” added Velencia who has been affiliated with the Company since 2016.

Little did she know she would also create history for herself by traveling to the country where Bascom was born to experience an exciting area of geological research which included work on structural geology: something that also fascinated Bascom.

Velencia mentioned in an earlier interview that “an understanding of structural geology is important as it would greatly help me observe and interpret when out in the field and these skills can further be applied to understanding the complexities of PNG’s geology.”

Prior to joining the graduate programme, Velencia and fellow geoscientist graduate, Amy-Yvette Kaumi spent six months at the Energy & Geoscience Institute (EGI) in the United States.
“Oil Search generously provided financial support to ensure that we were able to take advantage of this opportunity to further develop our knowledge and careers. Our work at EGI introduced us to cutting-edge software, research labs and equipment and personnel,” said Velencia.

Following this opportunity, Velencia joined Oil Search’s Exploration department as an Intern, where she impressed by demonstrating a strong work ethic and focus. This in conjunction with her impressive interview performance resulted in her being accepted into the company’s 2018 graduate development programme.

“Oil Search has given me many wonderful opportunities to build my character and this has inspired me to achieve more. As a graduate, it’s very encouraging to be surrounded by colleagues that are eager to teach and challenge me to learn. The Company supports the upskilling of young Papua New Guinean scientists without discrimination. I am excited to be on the graduate programme, as I know this would be a great platform for me to continue to develop as a geologist.

Our society has stereotypical portrayals of male dominance in the scientific field, but imagine how much women can contribute to scientific and technical progress if we all challenged this perception. Women scientists are breaking barriers and changing the world: as the new generation of women scientists, we have no excuse. My advice to aspiring scientists is to believe in yourself and have the courage to pursue your dreams. You can be a scientist too!”
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