Will Hickey has served as co-chief executive officer and a director of Permian Resources since September 2022. Prior to that, in 2015, he co-founded Colgate Energy with James Walter and served as Colgate’s president, co-CEO and a member of Colgate’s Board of Managers. Before the formation of Colgate, Will worked for the energy private equity firm EnCap Investments where he evaluated and monitored investments across the oil and gas space with a focus on the Permian Basin. Previously, Will worked for Pioneer Natural Resources where he rotated through numerous engineering positions including chief of staff to the chief operating officer.

Robert “Bob” MacDonald (1941–2014) was born in Detroit, Michigan, to Claude and Ruth MacDonald. He attended public schools in Royal Oak and graduated from Kimball High School where he excelled in trumpet and was voted “Most Likely to Succeed.” In 1963, Bob received Bachelor of Science degrees in Chemical and Metallurgical Engineering from the University of Michigan (during which time he also performed with the marching band). While there, Bob met Martha Varnell, a graduate music student, and they married in 1962. After five years as a reservoir engineer with Michigan Consolidated Gas, he accepted an offer from Professor Keith Coats to come to The University of Texas at Austin as a graduate student in the Petroleum Engineering department. Bob, Martha and their two children, Robert and Richard, loaded up a U-Haul van and moved to Austin in 1968.

Ken Nelson was born in Austin, Texas, in 1948 and graduated from Austin High School in 1966. Due to exposure to the oil industry when in elementary school, he enrolled in the Petroleum Engineering department at The University of Texas at Austin and graduated with a Bachelor of Science with Highest Honors in 1970. Several logging courses and meetings with Dr. Sylvain Pirson instilled a great interest in geology during his undergraduate years. He began employment with Pan American Petroleum in Midwest, Wyoming, in 1971 as a production and development engineer and took an educational leave of absence to return to UT Austin to earn a Master of Science in Petroleum Engineering in 1973 while working for the Texas Petroleum Research Committee. His graduate supervisor was Dr. Ben Caudle.

Dr. Myra Dria is founder, president and CEO of Pearl Resources LLC, which has operated in the Delaware Basin since 2011. A Texas-registered professional engineer, Myra also founded Opal Resources in 2007 and served as president and CEO while it operated in the Midland Basin as a co-venture with Goldman Sachs until its first asset sale to W&T Offshore in 2011. In 2018, she was named to Hart Energy’s inaugural “25 Most Influential Women in Energy” list. Across her career with rigor and imagination, Myra applied an insatiable appetite for learning and challenging the “norm.” She earned a Case Western Reserve University BS engineering degree (polymer), and in the late 1970s, the Sohio engineer traveled to Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, contributing to establishing standards for seawater injection in the 2 MMBWPD Prudhoe Bay waterflood. This sparked her interest in facility design and downhole formation damage and led her to earn a PhD in Petroleum Engineering with advisors Dr. Larry Lake and Dr. Robert Schechter at UT Austin.

When Chuck Farmer’s tenuous football career at The University of Texas at Austin was cut short (fortunately) by injuries, he switched to Petroleum Engineering. He graduated with a BS in May 1981 and went to work for Anadarko Petroleum in Denver, Colorado, and then worked for various independents and did rotational drilling duty with Amoco International in the Middle East and North Sea. In 1987, he took a job with Plains Petroleum as an acquisition engineer and soon moved to Midland as a district manager. In the following two years, Plains built its net production from 500 to 3,000 net BOPD; drilled a successful (500 BOPD, 500 MCFD) Canyon horizontal well in Knox County, Texas; and drilled one of the first Wolfcamp horizontal wells in the Midland Basin. In 1990 he was promoted to manager of corporate development, bringing in approximately $80 million in acquisitions, executing multiple infill drilling programs and creating dynamic cashflow growth.

Larry W. Lake is a professor in the Hildebrand Department of Petroleum and Geosystems Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin, where he holds the Shahid and Sharon Ullah Chair. He holds BSE and PhD degrees in Chemical Engineering from Arizona State University and Rice University, respectively.


After graduating from the Hildebrand Department of Petroleum and Geosystems engineering at The University of Texas at Austin with a Bachelor of Science degree in May 2008, Mariya Townswick began working at DeGolyer and MacNaughton (D&M), an international consulting company where she had interned as an undergraduate. During her years at D&M, Mariya worked her way up from an associate engineer to a senior engineer and a vice president. She coordinated multiple oil and gas evaluations for companies ranging in size from small, privately held to national in scope, most of which were located in the former Soviet Union.

Nick Steinsberger began his career with Mitchell Energy in 1988 after graduating from The University of Texas at Austin with a Bachelor of Science in Petroleum Engineering. Nick was promoted to completion manager for the Barnett Shale in 1995 and was responsible for the first slick-water stimulation in the Barnett in 1997, which is referred to as the first modern shale frac.

Eugene B. “Gene” Shepherd, Jr., is a founder and the chief executive officer of ATX Energy Partners, LLC. Prior to ATX, Gene was a founder and the CEO of Brigham Resources, LLC, from 2013 until the sale of substantially all of its southern Delaware Basin assets to Diamondback Energy in February 2017.

William “Bill” Edward Findley, Jr., was born on July 20, 1922, to Sylvia Woods Findley and William Edward Findley. He grew up in Dallas, Texas, and graduated from Woodrow Wilson High School in 1940. He graduated from North Texas Agricultural College in 1942. He then enrolled and studied petroleum engineering at The University of Texas at Austin.