Jay Kalbas

White masculine person with light facial hair
  • Professor

Contact Info

Kansas Geological Survey
1930 Constant Ave
Lawrence, KS 66047


Experience and Research:

Dr. Jay Kalbas is the State Geologist of Kansas and the Director of the Kansas Geological Survey. He brings 17 years of energy industry management and project execution experience including seven years leading large-capital international offshore exploratory and development drilling projects. In 2022 and 2023, he led the development of Kansas’ clean energy and hydrogen integration strategy establishing partnerships between the Kansas Department of Commerce, the University of Kansas, and a range of national and regional energy developers. Prior to that, Jay co-led appraisal drilling strategy development and execution for the single largest deepwater drilling campaign in history. He directed subsurface planning and execution for six simultaneously operating offshore rigs and, throughout his career, the execution of 45 exploration, development, and production projects.

Jay's work in energy and policy focuses on the intersection of public and private partnerships related to energy portfolio growth and diversification and the sustainable use of water resources. Studies include utilization of conventional energy resources as well as the evolution of energy systems to include diverse applications of wind, nuclear, and solar energy for hydrogen and green ammonia production.

Jay's research and training in geology and geophysics center on the tectonics of sedimentary basins with specific focus on the stratigraphy and sedimentology of fine-grained rocks. His work in Kansas targets the architecture of Permian evaporite deposits throughout the central and western parts of the state the evolution of the eastern margin of the Cretaceous interior seaway (especially where it has implications for fresh water resources). In other regions, he is focusing on the high-resolution mapping of lake parasequences in the Green River Basin (Wyoming), and the evolution of Cretaceous sedimentary basins in western Alaska.


Jay Kalbas is originally from Tampa, FL. He graduated from Furman University (Greenville, SC) with a B.S. in Geology in 2000 and from the U. of Tennessee in 2002 with a M.S. From 2002 to 2006, Jay’s work centered primarily on the tectonics of sedimentary basin development in southwestern Alaska. In 2006, he completed his Ph.D. in the Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences at Purdue University and began his industry career with ExxonMobil.

At ExxonMobil, Jay has participated in and overseen both onshore and offshore projects in the exploration, development, and production business phases. Working at ExxonMobil’s Upstream Research Company and a number of affiliate companies, he focused for seven years on the sedimentology and stratigraphy of fine-grained rocks. Jay’s team developed analytical approaches for quantitative unconventional resource assessments and applied their results in twelve U.S. and international basins. Jay also led the development of new non-linear multivariate statistical techniques that effectively tied sedimentological and stratigraphic variations to empirical trends from multiple producing fields. Concepts were most recently applied in the Bakken and Three Forks plays of North Dakota to boost productivity while reducing capital expenditures.

In 2015, Jay was selected for ExxonMobil’s management team and oversaw the 2015 and ‘16 Atlantic Canada offshore lease sales. That work led to the successful leasing of 1.7 million offshore acres for hydrocarbon exploration. As the Atlantic Operation Manager, Jay had the responsibility of co-developing the company’s North Atlantic exploration operations strategy and overseeing its implementation. He led geology, engineering operations, and economics teams in three offices in the subsurface analysis, regulatory compliance, and well planning work that culminated with ExxonMobil’s first exploratory drilling in the North Atlantic in more than 20 years.

Jay’s work leading international joint ventures culminated with his overseeing development of three of ExxonMobil’s flagship resources in offshore Guyana. His cross-functional geology and reservoir engineering teams were responsible for integrated subsurface analysis, appraisal drilling execution, and field development planning.

In July of 2022, Jay transitioned to the University of Kansas, where he assumed the roles of State Geologist of Kansas, Director of the Kansas Geological Survey, and Professor of Geology.


B.S., Furman University, 2000, Greenville, SC
M.S., University of Tennessee, 2002, Knosville, TN
Ph.D., Purdue University, 2006, W. Lafayette, IN


Research Interests

  • Sedimentary basin analysis

  • Stratigraphic expression of fine-grained depositional systems

  • Energy diversification and portfolio growth

  • Energy policy development


Teaching interests:

  • Mudstones
  • Stratigraphy
  • Shallow Water Stratigraphy
  • Subsurface Integration
  • Energy Research