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Scott W. Tinker

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Scott W. Tinker (born November 15, 1959) is an American geologist, educator, energy expert, and documentary filmmaker. Dr. Tinker has made significant contributions to higher education, in the field of energy, and in bringing governments, industries, and academe together to tackle major societal challenges involving energy, the environment, and the economy.


Early life and education

Dr. Tinker was born in Centralia, Illinois in 1959 to mother, Janice Wheeler Tinker and geologist father, C. N. “Tom” Tinker. In 1982, he completed a Bachelor of Science in Geology and Business Administration, Magna Cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas. He went on to receive a Master of Science in Geological Sciences from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor in 1985, and a Ph.D. in Geological Sciences from the University of Colorado, Boulder in 1996.


Dr. Tinker’s career in the oil and gas industry includes Robert M. Sneider Exploration in Houston, Texas (1982–83), Union Pacific Resources in Englewood, Colorado (1985–1988) and Marathon Oil's Petroleum Technology Center (1988–2000). He left industry to become Director of the Bureau of Economic Geology at the University of Texas at Austin (2000–present). Dr. Tinker serves as the State Geologist of Texas (2000–present), the Director of the Advanced Energy Consortium (2008–present), and is a Professor holding the Edwin Allday Endowed Chair of Subsurface Geology and the acting Associate Dean for Research (2009–present) in the Jackson School of Geosciences at the University of Texas at Austin (2002–present). Dr. Tinker is the co-producer and on-screen narrator for Switch, the critically acclaimed feature-length documentary on global energy, and the Switch Energy Project (2008–present). Dr. Tinker has made over 600 invited and keynote lectures to audiences globally.


Dr. Tinker has been interviewed and quoted by publications such as the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and NPR. Select interviews include:

  • New York Times, January 15, 2016, by Clifford Krauss, Stock Prices Sink in the Rising Ocean of Oil.
  •, December 3, 2014, by Mason Inman, The Fracking Fallacy.
  • StateImpact Texas, NPR, July 19, 2012, by Terrence Henry, A View From the Tipping Point: The “Switch” for Energy’s Future.
  • The Wall Street Journal, June 24, 2014, by Alison Sider and Nicole Friedman, Oil From U.S. Fracking Is More Volatile Than Expected.
  • NPR, February 28, 2013, by Wade Goodwyn, Texas Study Points to a Longer Natural Gas Boom.
  • Wall Street Journal, February 27, 2013, by Russell Gold, Gas Boom Projected to Grow for Decades.
  • New York Times, September 20, 2012, Energy by the Numbers: ‘Switch’ Explores a World of Fuel Options.
  • New York Times, August 2, 2010, by William J. Broad, Tracing Oil Reserves to Their Tiny Origins.
  • Switch

    The documentary film Switch (2012), subtitled in four languages, attempts a nonpartisan, scientifically-based exploration of the global energy transition, the future of global energy production, and global energy demand. Switch won “Best of Fest” at the Colorado Environmental Film Festival and was selected as the opening night film of the D.C. Environmental Film Festival in Washington As of January 2016, the film has been screened at over 600 universities and seen by millions of people globally. The film is part of the Switch Energy Project, an energy education, and efficiency venture.

    Honors and awards

    Dr. Tinker was elected a Fellow of the Geological Society of America (GSA) in 2011, and is an Honorary Member of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG). He is the youngest recipient of the AAPG’s Halbouty Distinguished Leadership Award (2016). Dr. Tinker has served as president of the American Geosciences Institute (2015–2016), AAPG (2008–2009), Association of American State Geologists (2007–2008), and Gulf Coast Association of Geological Societies (2011–2012). Dr. Tinker has served as a Distinguished Lecturer for AAPG (1997–1998), the Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) (2002), and GSA (Michael T. Halbouty Distinguished Lecturer, 2012). Dr. Tinker received the J. C. “Cam” Sproule Memorial Award for Best Paper published in AAPG Bulletin by an author 35 years or younger (1996) and the best paper published in the Journal of Sedimentary Research (1998).


    Scott W. Tinker Wikipedia

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