Houston Mount, 33, History
Houston Mount is a man of many interests – history, law, religion – so it makes sense that he would focus on another renaissance man, oilman Everette Lee DeGolyer, for his thesis work.
Mount earned a B.A. in history from the University of Tulsa in 1997. He then picked up a law degree from the University of Texas at Austin in 2000 and a masters of divinity from Princeton Theological Seminary in 2003, and he'll complete his Ph.D. in history in May.
Mount says his interest in the oil industry goes back to his youth, when his father worked as an engineer for Amoco. During law school he studied oil and gas law and particularly enjoyed it, and a class on environmental history at SMU renewed that interest. DeGolyer (1886-1956), who was a brilliant engineer/geophysicist, business leader and man of letters, is a figure whose life warranted investigation and elaboration.
Mount says DeGolyer founded a number of companies in the 1920s, including oil company Amerada and Geophysical Service, Inc., which eventually became Texas Instruments. A major part of DeGolyer's legacy is pioneering geophysical prospecting for petroleum. He led a mission to the Middle East in the 1940s that declared, correctly as we now know, that the future of the oil industry would be centered in the Middle East. In addition to his interests in engineering and business, DeGolyer was an amateur historian and scholar on the history of Mexico and the Southwest.
For his research on the great man, Mount had the resources of the "incredible collection of papers" at theDeGolyer Special Collections Library on the SMU campus to pore over.