The Power Line 100 Best Professors in America roster is necessarily going to tend toward the humanities, because it’s closer to our knowledge base and the humanities are more accessible to the general public as well as closer to the political issues that are the lifeblood of this site. But we certainly want to sweep up distinguished professors in the sciences and technical fields, too.
A reader tip directs me to Thomas Blasingame, the Robert L. Whiting Professor in the Harold Vance Department of Petroleum Engineering at Texas A&M, who is one of the academic superstars in applied research that has contributed to the renaissance of oil and gas production in the United States over the last decade. Prof. Blasingame not only travels and lectures extensively, but he also supervises a large number of graduate students at Texas A & M, which is always a mark of an outstanding professor.
The video below is a 40-minute lecture of Prof. Blasingame on oil well drawdown analysis, and I certainly don’t recommend watching the whole thing unless you’re an oilfield geek. But the first three minutes are fun for several reasons; first, you can tell immediately why Prof. Blasingame is a compelling classroom instructor, and second, you get a vivid reminder of the immense gulf between the humanities and the technical sciences in higher education. It is hard to imagine a professor in a humanities department getting away with the opening story, and especially the dialects, that Blasingame uses to warm up his student audience. A history professor who told this story would be hauled up on charges before any of the inquisitions of political correctness, diversity, and sensitivity that almost every university (except perhaps in Texas) now has in being. (Plus he says very sensible things about the CA Bay Area: “Nice place to work, but I wouldn’t want to live there.”)
Needless to say, Prof. Blasingame’s students probably don’t lack for good job prospects after graduation, either.