Wayne Freisatz – President

Wayne Freisatz

Geologist and President of Sunburst Consulting, Inc.

Born and raised in up-state New York (Schenectady).  Tore-apart parent’s driveway looking for interesting rocks.  Later hunted fossils in the nearby Helderberg “Mtns”.  Channeled obsession by majoring in geology at Hope College in Holland, Michigan.  Went to work for Core Laboratories, Inc. in Dallas, Texas.  Hired in the “International” division.   Sold all of his worldly goods and got vaccinated for world travel.  Immediately assigned to Casper, Wyoming (in the “International” division, of course).  At least the anthrax vaccination was worthwhile. Worked northern Rockies for Core Lab until hired by Jerry Chambers – Oil Producers as district geologist for Williston Basin, North Dakota.  Returned to academic life during ‘oil-bust’ and earned a MS in geology from the University of North Dakota.  Masters thesis on fracturing of the Bakken Formation, prior to horizontal drilling ‘boom’ (timing is everything!).  Continued to work well site geology summers and holidays, beginning with Sunburst Consulting in ~1985.  Later became partner in Sunburst.  Currently tied to a desk and computer most of the time.

Married a geologist (Nancy Auren).  When not working for Sunburst, serves on staff for two cats.

Jim Suydam, PhD – VP Operations

Geologist and V.P. Operations, Sunburst Consulting, Inc.

Jim Suydam

Jim was raised in the oil industry from Alberta to the Gulf Coast. A love for the Rocky Mountain region led him to the University of Wyoming where he received a BS in geology in 1986 and then an MS from Montana State University in 1988. Summers were spent “getting oil on his shoes” as an intern with National Oil Company and Mobil Exploration & Production in Denver. Refusing to re-enter society he pursued doctoral studies at Washington State University, graduating with a PhD in Geology in 1994. Fresh out of school but coming into an industry slump he consulted on several small projects on the Sweetgrass Arch. In a twist of circumstance, Jim spent the next 10 years in retail management for Kinko’s in Billings, Montana. In 2004 he returned to his true vocational love and joined Sunburst Consulting as a contract well site geologist, working wells in the Williston Basin, Utah and Nevada. In 2006 Jim became a managing partner, helping to oversee more than 50 contracting geologists.

Jim lives in Billings with his wife Stacey and daughter Emily. He enjoys golf and fly fishing in the beautiful Montana streams.

Layaka Mann – VP Field Operations

Layaka Mann

Geologist and V.P. Field Operations, Sunburst Consulting, Inc.

I was born and raised in Northwestern Montana.  Attended middle school and high school in Missoula, Montana where I also attended college at the University of Montana and earned bachelors and masters degrees in geology.  My master’s thesis involved structure, timing, and mineralogy of the contact metamorphic aureole of the Garnet Stock, Montana.  I also co-published a paper on the same subject.  I married my husband Bill in 2000.  I contracted for a gold exploration company in Northwest Territories, Canada following graduation in 2004 and then began well-site geology contracting.  I moved to Billings, Montana with my husband and our beagle mix, Chelsy, and became a partner with Sunburst Consulting in 2006.  I spend most of my time in the field or in the Sunburst office, so any free time is spent with my husband and our pug, Roxy, and visiting our families in Northwestern Montana and Washington. 

Nancy Auren – Secretary/Treasurer

Geologist and Secretary/Treasurer

Nancy Auren
Nancy was born in Minneapolis. She had an inspirational high school geology teacher and attended the University of Minnesota at Minneapolis where she studied geology, Lakota, Native American Studies and math. Deciding to try a change in climate from the Minnesota winters she headed out to Seattle to attend the University of Washington where she worked monitoring the seismology of Mount St. Helens during its eruption while getting her B.S. in geology.

After graduation she worked in the Williston Basin for Analex and independently until the last “oil bust” and returned to school at the University of North Dakota for a B.S. in Computer Science. Moving to Denver to work as a geologist/programmer and database manager for Dwight’s EnergyData/BP, she also got involved in doing concert sound and stage work. She moved to Basalt, CO, to program accounting and inventory systems for Sport Obermeyer while continuing to work as a monitor/sound engineer in nearby Aspen and doing a lot of snowboarding.

She married a geologist (Wayne Freisatz) and split her time between wellsite geology, working concerts in Aspen, programming, and traveling. She is currently the accounting department for Sunburst and assisting in the service of two cats.

Robert R. McCue III “Bo” – Appalachian District Manager

Geologist and Appalachian District Manager, Sunburst Consulting, Inc.

Robert R. McCue III “Bo”

Born in Gainesville, FL and raised throughout the southeast, Bo remains a Georgia Bulldog at heart.  He eventually settled in Bowling Green, KY where he attended college at Western Kentucky University and received his bachelor's degree in geology.  After college he worked for about a year with a small oil and natural gas company based in Bowling Green, KY.  The primary focus of his work consisted of examining samples and interpreting electric logs in eastern Kentucky within the Chattanooga Shale Formation.  Bo moved to Billings, MT in September of 2007 where he joined Sunburst Consulting as a well site geologist.  Most of his worked has been focused in the Bakken play of the Williston Basin.  In 2009 Bo took a position as the Appalachian District Manager of Sunburst Consulting, Inc., opening the Pittsburgh office and concentrating on the Upper Devonian Marcellus Shale natural gas play and the Ordovician Trenton-Black River play.     

Willie Thomas – Expeditor


Willie Thomas

Born in San Rafael, California, Willie was on the move at an early age. By the age of two he had settled in Billings, Montana with his parents, and by four he was frequently found thirty or more feet up in any tall tree he could find. By seven, Willie had scaled the rimrocks above town and at ten he was biking to all of the local gravel pits in search of the perfect skipping stone.

He attended various Billings public schools, graduating in 1979 from Billings Senior High School. He then attended the University of Montana, where he graduated with a Bachelor or Arts in English in the spring of 1985.

After teaching tennis, making pizzas and flipping hamburgers, and working as a roustabout, he worked for Kinko's for 15 years as both a Corporate Trainer and as an Assistant Manager. It was while working for Kinko's that he met John Gillespie (a customer), and the two decided a change of profession might be in order. Sunburst Consulting was producing a lot of well evaluations and geological logs, and needed someone with printing industry experience and an editor's eye to spearhead the production side of the business. So Willie was sent out into the oil patch to learn the business of well-site geology. After six years sitting wells in the Williston, Powder River and DJ basins, he splits time between the field and the office, where he edits, proofs and assembles well evaluations and geology logs. The title "Production" can also mean head cook and bottle washer, so Willie can often be found doing whatever odd job needs to be done around the Sunburst Consulting shop.

Chris Belback - Senior Geologist

Chris was born in Warrenton, VA and grew up in the Virginia Beach area.  After high school, Chris attended Virginia Tech, of which he thinks is the greatest college ever (Go Hokies).  After a brief stint in the chemistry department Chris decided he loved rocks and made the best major change that he could.  He moved into the illustrious Virginia Tech Geosciences department.  Chris graduated in 2003 with a B.S. in Geology then he decided to bum around Blacksburg, VA for a bit and worked as a shift manager at a Taco Bell and also delivered pizzas.  This pizza delivery job led him to meet a fellow geologist who got a job as a contract well-site geologist for Sunburst Consulting in the Williston Basin of North Dakota.  In March of 2005 Chris made the move to Montana with his future wife to start this line of work as well.  In January of 2011, Chris took a job as a Senior Geologist with Sunburst, which put him in the office a bit more, but allowed him more time at home with his wife Mary.  In his free time Chris can be seen playing ice hockey, rocking on the guitar, enjoying the outdoors, or maybe just hanging out in the house. 

Felipe Pimentel - Senior Geologist

A Brazilian by birth, Felipe grew up in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida with his parents and two sisters. While working in retail management and attending school at the University of Florida in Gainesville, he discovered his affinity for geology. After graduating with a B.S. in 2007, he decided to trade beaches, sandals and scorching summers for mountains, hiking boots and cold winters and moved across the country to Billings, MT to become a well-site geologist. He took the position of Senior Geologist with Sunburst in February 2011. His experience includes wells in the Williston, Powder River and DJ Basins. When not working in the field or in the office, Felipe can often be found enjoying fine Montana craft beers, live music or the mountains when he’s lucky.

Justin Sommerville - Senior Geologist

Justin Sommerville was born and raised in northern Virginia. After graduating highschool in 1998, he thought it would be a good idea to enlist in the United States Army. After the first day of basic training he thought it would be a good idea to go to college. Eight years later he graduated from the Geosciences department at Virginia Tech with a B.S.  under the geochemistry option; after first honorably completing 4 years as an imagery analyst (at the Army’s insistence). In 2007 Justin loaded his car up with all of his worldly possessions and headed out west to work as a contract geologist for Sunburst. In 2009 he married Tracy Lee Nayes a fellow Sunburst contract hand. His experience includes wells in North Dakota, Montana, and Wyoming, drilling in the Williston, Denver-Julesburg, Powder River, and Wind River Basins. In January 2011 Justin was employed by Sunburst as a Senior Geologist and is currently mentoring field geologist from the Billings office.

Colin McNamara

Colin McNamaraColin was born in Covington, LA and was raised in rural southeastern Indiana. At an early age Colin roamed Ordovician age rocks exposed along the Cincinnati Arch, and later pursued a bachelor's degree in geology at Ball State University. After graduation he expanded his geological experience from road cuts and creek beds, westward, to the complex geology of Montana where he became employed with Sunburst Consulting as a well site geologist in 2007. Several years later, Colin took a job as a Senior Geologist with Sunburst. Most of his field work has been focused on the Bakken and Three Forks plays of the Williston Basin. He enjoys Montana countryside and can be found skiing, playing hockey, mountain biking, hiking and floating rivers on the weekends.