The Richard Holt Science Award, inaugurated in 2017 in conjunction with the completion of the Academy’s Science & Technology Center, is given to WA alumni for their exemplary accomplishments in the field of science. The intent is to recognize and honor the scientists of the past in order to encourage and inspire the scientists of the future.
The 2022 recipient of this award is Richard Aram ’72, a geologist who worked for over three decades for Phillips Petroleum/ConocoPhillips. Rich’s career at Phillips involved exploration and technology support/development. He also coordinated geoscience recruiting for the U.S. offices. Rich spent the last sixteen years at Phillips as the director of geoscience training which involved training all the new geologists and geophysicists hired worldwide by the company. In addition, Rich served on the advisory councils for two international training companies and on a committee for the National Science Foundation.
Over the course of his years at Phillips, Rich has traveled the globe. His work has taken him from Texas and North Dakota to Norway and Greenland. His assignments have involved exotic places like the Western Desert of Egypt, the coasts of Brazil, and Bohai Bay, China.
Rich has also dedicated himself to science education. From 1990-1993, he directed Phillips Petroleum’s Green Country Science Teachers Workshops, a free training program coordinated by Phillips with the help of local science teachers. Hundreds of elementary and secondary science teachers and thousands of students benefited from the workshops which garnered national acclaim.
Rich and a friend also built and directed Phillips Norway Science Teachers Workshop from 1996 to 1998. Over the last 19 years, Rich has presented at 11 International Christian Educators Conferences hosted by the Association of Christian Schools International. These conferences have been held in Hungary, Kenya, Thailand, Ecuador, Korea, Germany, and the Czech Republic.
His workshops have intriguing titles: Talking Rocks, Fossils as Teachers, Waltzing Continents, Learning Better Science with Dinosaurs, and Seeking a Balanced Approach to Teaching Origins in the Science Classroom. He is working on a new workshop that combines geology and the Bible called The Land: The Fifth Gospel. This course will feature the role the landscape of Israel played in its culture and the events of the Bible.
“We can do science for Jesus just like any other vocation.”
In addition to his many accomplishments, Rich is the author of numerous publications on geology and science education. However, he is quick to point out that while he always hoped his work in the field of science would make the world a better place, he took his role as a Christian husband, father, and now grandfather as a top priority.
To that end, he devoted himself to spending time with his family—reading with his kids, memorizing Scripture, praying with them, driving them to their sports events, coaching them, fishing with them, and so much more.
Now, he is continuing the old traditions and making new ones with extended family and ten grand-dears.
Rich’s exhortation to Wheaton Academy students is as follows: “I want this award to focus students on science as a possible career and ministry. Remember the stated goal of this award is ‘to encourage and inspire the scientists of the future.’ It’s not about what I have done; it’s about you and what you can do. Our world has many needs. Good science and good ethics can help [meet these].”