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Honors and Awards


One of the most important functions of a professional society is honoring those who have made significant contributions to the profession and to science. Our profession has many components: the science of exploration geophysics; the education of geophysicists, other professionals, and the general public; collaboration with professionals in related fields; and application of geophysical knowledge to economically find and develop natural resources, characterize the near surface, and mitigate earth hazards. The 2017 Honors and Awards recognize superior achievements in all of these areas. The distinguished recipients of this year's awards are role models for excellence in our profession, and the Society is proud to honor their contributions.


Samuel Gray

Samuel Gray's work from an industry perspective is impressive, with major contributions in the areas of depth imaging, velocity estimation, and seismic modeling. In particular, he has pioneered and collaborated with others in the areas of turning wave imaging, antialiasing in Kirchhoff migration, true-amplitude imaging, beam migration, and wave-equation migration. Gray also excels as a great communicator. He not only has mastered conveying complicated mathematical formulas behind seismic imaging in simple, understandable language for fellow geologists and geophysicists who are not familiar with seismic imaging, he also has inspired newcomers to our industry to carry the torch to further advance imaging technology.

by John Etgen

Everyone who knows Samuel Gray describes him as energetic and engaging, astute and brilliant, practical and performance-driven, and most importantly humble and wise. Sam's mentors at the University of Denver were Norm Bleistein and Jack Cohen. There he found that he could always collaborate with one of those two eminent scientists to explain the more esoteric concepts proposed by the other. That ability to synthesize and improve the understanding of complex topics by reaching out to colleagues is one of Sam's great strengths. Sam did not start his post-PhD work in exploration seismology; instead he worked for the Naval Research Lab and then as an instructor at the General Motors Institute, now known as Kettering University. But he realized he had something important to give to the field of geophysics and joined Amoco Production Research Company in Tulsa, Oklahoma. There his colleagues, collaborators, and mentors were the likes of Ken Kelly, Sven Treitel, and Dan Whitmore. It was there at the Tulsa lab, “the house that Sven built,” that Sam began to make his mark on exploration geophysics.

Sam was the focal point of Amoco's efforts to develop 3D Kirchhoff prestack depth migration (PSDM) in the late 1980s/early 1990s. There were many scientific and engineering compromises in the design and implementation of that technology; during those days many of them were not fully explored. There were many times when he could have called the work “good enough” and just delivered what would have been improved images compared to what we had. That was not good enough for Sam, who has an amazing ability to create algorithms that are not only faster than you think possible, but also more accurate. The Kirchhoff 3D PSDM implementation that Sam helped create gave Amoco a pioneering capability in industry. It ran faster than what many believed even theoretically possible and, on top of that, was essentially true amplitude. We later coined the term “warp-drive” for the computational technique that Sam and the team developed, which allowed the Amoco 3D KPSDM to run so well. When Sam joined CGG in 1999 he immediately demonstrated the depth of his theoretical knowledge and his ability to translate theory into practical algorithms and efficient computer code, just like he did for Amoco.

Sam is also a key figure in the development of beam migration methods in general and CGG's development of controlled beam migration in particular. The R&D team sought to develop a variant of beam migration that is both better and faster than Kirchhoff migration and Gaussian beam migration. As one would expect for any project with such lofty goals, the team was stuck for months. Sam cracked the secret of migrating exactly which few percent of the data to produce images of high signal-to-noise ratio at lightning speed. Sam modestly considered his contribution to be trivial, and he graciously declined to share a CGG technical award with the R&D team. But of course this reminded everyone that Sam is one of the giants in seismic imaging who allows us to see and go further on his shoulders.

Sam skillfully presents complex technical ideas in a way that is both amusing and understandable. I've always profited from Sam's advice to “never have more than one and a half ideas” in a presentation. His conference presentations always draw huge crowds, and the audience is never disappointed. It is rumored that he doesn't even need slides. Sam once was giving an imaging presentation to a large, diverse audience. After the first couple of slides, the projection system malfunctioned, and all that remained was a white screen. There was growing concern from the event organizers, but Sam seemed completely unfazed by the complications. When it became evident that the projection system was not going to return, Sam had a suggestion: “Why don't I continue the presentation and just describe what you would be seeing if the slide was actually there.” He then proceeded to give the full presentation in that fashion.

For those who have worked closely with him, Sam is particularly famous for his dry wit and sense of humor. His best witticisms are usually reserved for those who need their complacency challenged, and through the years he has had a few Yogi Berra moments. On one particular occasion, someone was glowing about how good we had become in seismic imaging and turned to Sam for corroboration. Sam thought for a moment and gently said, “You don't have to be good to be the best; you just have to be the best.” The recipient didn't quite understand what Sam meant and changed the subject. From that point on, “you don't have to be good to be the best” became the reality check for those of us trying to imitate Sam's ethos of excellence. We are reminded over and over again that being the best is not always good enough in seismic imaging. Sam's many cleverly honest quotes continually tell us that we can always improve what we do in seismic imaging.


Manika Prasad

Manika Prasad is recommended as the 2017 recipient of the Virgil Kauffman Gold Medal for her extensive experimental work in rock physics at the Colorado School of Mines. Letters from several prominent members of the profession voice support for Prasad to receive a Virgil Kauffman Gold Medal for her work in studying seismic wave propagation in complex rocks. These letter writers are particularly impressed with Prasad's recent work with shale rocks. They predict her experimental results in this area will be instrumental in evaluating unconventional reservoir plays with seismic data.

by Ludmila Adam, Amos Nur, and Sergio Chávez-Pérez

Manika Prasad is a natural recipient of the SEG Virgil Kauffman Gold Medal for her contributions to the field of experimental rock physics and geophysics. During her active career, Manika has led key developments in conceptual and experimental geophysical observations on a broad range of rock types and rock properties. Her strongest contributions relate to understanding the elastic, transport, and storage properties of shales and unconsolidated rocks in a variety of experimental setups to address a wide range of length scales.

Her innovative research has focused on interrelating elastic measurements using atomic force acoustic microscopy, scanning electron microscope, nitrogen gas absorption techniques, nuclear magnetic resonance, and complex electrical resistivity. This approach highlights her versatility and multidisciplinary experimental approach to the hardest of problems.

Manika has contributed to the understanding of how pore-space distribution and size (micro- to mesopores) depends on mineral types such as illite and smectite. Recently, Manika developed a methodology (and obtained a patent) to extract pore size information in unconventional reservoirs by extracting surface relaxivity from combined nuclear magnetic resonance, 3D digital rock models, and focused ion beam scanning electron microprobe measurements.

Her publications include some of the first work on anisotropic attenuation on unconsolidated and fractured sandstones. On a larger scale, Manika's work on defining hydraulic units from wave velocities has had a strong impact in the interpretation of hydrogeological data, petroleum geophysical well logs, and seismic field data. Manika's scientific contributions to geophysics have led to advances in conventional and unconventional petroleum reservoir characterization, exploration, and production.

Manika is the director of the successful Physics of Organics, Carbonates, Sands, and Shales Consortium at the Colorado School of Mines, showing that she excels at bridging academic questions and industry needs. After the unexpected passing of Mike Batzle, she has also taken on the leadership role in the Fluid and Direct Hydrocarbon Indicator Consortium.

Manika's capacities as a teacher were recognized by the SEG Continuing Education Lecturer on Rock Physics of Shales (2014) and the SEG Outstanding Educator Award (2015). The Virgil Kauffman Gold Medal will recognize Manika's status and record as a role model for men and women within SEG and across the greater geophysics community.


Yaoguo Li

Yaoguo Li's lengthy record of contributions and service to the profession of geophysics and to SEG warrant the award of Honorary Membership. Li has a long and distinguished record of education, technical contributions, and service to SEG. Li has both a passion and talent for education and has been selected as Outstanding Teacher for three different years in the Department of Geophysics at the Colorado School of Mines. He is one of the world's leading experts on inversion of potential-field and electrical data. He has authored or coauthored 74 peer-reviewed papers, one book, and two book chapters. Several of his papers are recognized as seminal works. For his technical contributions, he was awarded the 1999 Gerald W. Hohmann Award for Excellence in Applied Electrical Geophysics Methods. Many of the codes and algorithms he developed have become industry standard, and both he and his students have been recognized with best paper awards. His record of service to SEG includes serving many years as an associate editor for Geophysics; working as a primary organizer for the first two well-attended and highly successful gravity, magnetic, and electromagnetic SEG workshops in China; and serving as a SEAM board member for three years.

by Misac Nabighian

Yaoguo Li was born in Delingha, China, and he attended the Wuhan College of Geology where in 1983 he obtained a BS in applied geophysics. In 1992 he received a PhD in geophysics from the University of British Columbia (UBC) for his work on 3D inversion of DC resistivity data. Upon graduation he continued working as a postdoctoral fellow and then research associate at the UBC-Geophysical Inversion Facility (UBC-GIF) until 1999 when Yaoguo joined the Department of Geophysics at the Colorado School of Mines, where he is currently a professor.

Yaoguo's main interest has always been inverse theory and its use in quantitative interpretation of geophysical data. While at UBC-GIF, he carried out pioneering work on the inversion of geophysical data sets commonly used in mineral exploration. Working with Doug Oldenburg, he published a series of seminal papers on 2D and 3D inversions of induced polarization, and also gravity and magnetic data. Based on these works, he developed or codeveloped inversion software packages including GRAV3D, MAG3D, DCIP2D, and DCIP3D, which are still widely used in industry and academia and contributed significantly to the earlier success of UBC-GIF. He was also the first to apply wavelet compression to geophysical inversions thus speeding up computations and increasing the size of solvable problems, which played a crucial role in large-scale 3D inversions.

Upon joining the Colorado School of Mines, Yaoguo in 1999 founded the Gravity and Magnetics Research Consortium to continue industry-sponsored research on processing and interpretation of gravity and magnetic data for petroleum exploration. Yaoguo later founded the Center for Gravity, Electrical, and Magnetic Studies to expand the group's research to a wider scope, covering gravity gradiometry, time-lapse gravity, borehole gravity, magnetic data with remanence, electromagnetics, and nuclear magnetic resonance with applications ranging from reservoir characterization to mineral exploration and to unexploded ordnance cleanup. Yaoguo has coauthored many excellent papers in these areas, notable among which are a series on the processing and inversion of gravity gradiometry data, a sequence on time-lapse gravity data, and a series on the inversion of magnetic data affected by strong remanent magnetization. These research efforts again resulted in many processing and inversion software packages for practical applications. During this time, he also wrote with Misac Nabighian a chapter in Treatise of Geophysics on “Magnetic methods of exploration — Principles and algorithms,” and with Rich Krahenbuhl a book titled Gravity and Magnetic Methods in Mineral and Oil & Gas Exploration and Production, published by EAGE. More recently, he and his students have focused on the integrated interpretation of multiple geophysical data sets and joint inversion of geophysical and petrophysical data to differentiate and characterize geology. This led to a series of publications on geology differentiation using independent inversions and the development of joint inversion methods using guided fuzzy c-means clustering.

Yaoguo has been an associate editor of Geophysics since 2011, and from 2011 to 2014 he served on the Board of Directors for the SEG Advanced Modeling Corporation (SEAM). Four papers he coauthored received Honorable Mention for Best Paper in Geophysics. He is a corecipient of the G. W. Hohmann Award and presently is the 11th EAGE Educational Tour instructor. His students have received two Best Student Paper Awards and three Awards of Merit at various SEG Annual Meetings and also the Laric Hawkins Award from ASEG.

It has been my pleasure and distinct honor to write Yaoguo's citation for this well-deserved award.


Carlos Torres-Verdín

Carlos Torres-Verdín is receiving Honorary Membership for his long and dedicated support of applied geophysics through exceptional research, outstanding education, and service to SEG. Over a long and meritorious academic career, Torres-Verdín has distinguished himself among his peers through numerous technical advancements, most notably in the areas of processing modeling and interpretation of borehole geophysical measurements, understanding the interaction of borehole measurements with multiphase flow in porous media, and of laboratory measurements to quantify fluid transport in shales. In addition to being an innovative and engaging university educator, he regularly provides courses for industry professionals. He has published 51 papers in Geophysics, eight in Interpretation, and nine in The Leading Edge (TLE). His lengthy record of service to SEG includes coeditor and editor of several special sections of TLE, working as associate and assistant editor for Geophysics, and serving on the technical program and organizing committees for the Annual Meeting and several workshops.

by Zoya Heidari

Carlos Torres-Verdín is not a typical geophysical engineer, or a typical academic for that matter. When he was a teenager, he craved to be a physicist but became a geophysical engineer instead when an accident forced him to postpone his entrance to the National Polytechnic Institute in his native Mexico (circa 1978). It was this serendipitous event that will mark his professional life forever, but he has never looked back in regret. While physics continues to be his spiritual magnet, his home will always be applied geophysics. And even though he has a number of important technical contributions in electromagnetic geophysics to his credit, his greatest achievements are in multidisciplinary geophysics, where he has advanced new methods to integrate traditional geophysical concepts with geology, fluid flow in porous media, materials science, and modern instrumentation and data processing. All these contributions carry the mark of an inquisitive mind that sees no knowledge boundaries and that is avid to use deep physics intuition to comfortably move anywhere from quantum mechanics to elasticity theory.

During his 9- and 18-year-long industry and academic career, respectively, Carlos pioneered several methods for multiphysics interpretation of borehole geophysical measurements acquired in vertical and deviated wells that are currently being used by service and operating companies alike. He is the founder and director of the most successful university-based research consortium on formation evaluation since 2000, with an average of 23 industry members during the past five years.

Carlos is also a passionate teacher, a dedicated student mentor, and an exceptional role model and caring mentor for many geoscientists and petroleum engineers in our industry and academia. He has outstanding talent and skills to express highly technical material in an understandable way for students while keeping the course content interesting and informative for varied professional audiences. He has delivered dozens of industry courses to educate young professionals and experienced petroleum engineers and geoscientists. I am one of the 65 students who have thus far received a graduate degree under his direct research supervision (28 PhD and 37 Master's students). He has a unique model of research supervision and leadership, which motivates and challenges his students to be independent, questioning, self-confident, and creative. His former students are among the top petrophysicists in the petroleum industry; some of them are currently serving in important managerial positions in major oil and gas companies, and three of them have joined the professorial ranks in other universities.

Carlos is a scholar of extraordinary insight whose publications and achievements have been recognized by sister technical societies such as EAGE, SPE, and SPWLA. His dedicated volunteering service to SEG has come in multiple and diverse ways; he is always happy and honored to lend a hand to SEG and is never short of time or words to motivate young minds to find their professional niche in applied geophysics.

Carlos enjoys life in the outdoors (with Patagonia being his greatest naturalist love) and has completed 20 marathons and more than 230 half marathons. He teams up with his wife, Laurel Treviño, on sustainable ecology and sustainable home living projects on their land, as well as on the conservation and propagation of native Texas vegetation. Carlos is quick to credit Laurel for having instilled in him a genuine love and appreciation for evolutionary biology, ecology, and sustainable agriculture, all of which have influenced his way of thinking and his research projects in many unsuspected ways. He also credits his only long-time hero, Richard Feynman, for teaching him that questioning, deep thinking, and back-of-the-envelope calculations can be as much fun as climbing mountains. Lastly, Carlos insists that this award would have never been possible without the work and enormous talent of his graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and former mentors. I am honored to provide this citation for this well-deserved award to Carlos Torres-Verdín.


Andrew Curtis

Andrew Curtis is recommended as the 2017 recipient of the Reginald Fessenden Award for his establishment of the concepts of seismic interferometry. Curtis's work has been used to construct earthquake seismograms in deep ocean waters where no seismometers have been deployed. This procedure is important for studying earthquake propagation across large areas with no seismograph coverage. This earthquake analysis is the most admired result of his research by those who do not practice reflection seismology. For those who practice seismic reflection seismology, Curtis and his staff are now using scattered waves and ambient seismic noise to allow seismic interferometry to be better used for purposes of seismic reflection imaging. They have already used interferometry concepts to predict and remove ground roll from seismic data recorded for reflection purposes.

by Johan Robertsson

Andrew Curtis holds the chair of mathematical geoscience at the University of Edinburgh. Over the last 12 years, Andrew has published a succession of highly influential papers in the area of seismic interferometry and theoretical seismology, for which he is recognized through the Reginald Fessenden Award.

Andrew and I have maintained a strong collaboration since I first met him in 1997, shortly after we became research scientists at Schlumberger's research center in Cambridge. I particularly recall a trip that Andrew and I made to Paris in 2002. It was inspired by recent findings in the field of time-reversed acoustics by Professors Mathias Fink and Roel Snieder. Andrew had organized a visit to meet Professor Albert Tarantola, who then accompanied us on visits to several of the labs in Paris working on these topics (including Fink's lab). This trip was seminal for us both, as Andrew subsequently became one of the early key contributors in this evolving field of science, and it stimulated many of our research papers ever since. In a paper published in Physical Review Letters in 2005, Dirk-Jan van Manen, Andrew, and I formalized early interferometry results using Green's theorem and showed that seismic interferometry provides the basis for efficient and highly accurate computation of Green's functions in synthetic modeling applications. The impact of the method is not only to teach how large numbers of modeled Green's functions can be effectively retrieved, but also changes the nature of modeling computations by converting them into massive crosscorrelation operations.

In another milestone in Andrew's work on interferometry, he realized that sources of seismic energy such as active seismic sources or passive sources such as earthquakes could be used as virtual receivers. In a paper in Nature Geoscience in 2009, Andrew and coworkers showed that one earthquake could be converted into a virtual seismometer in the subsurface of the earth that would act as a dynamic strain sensor recording the wavefield from another earthquake. This provides recordings of seismic waves deep within the earth's subsurface without the need to drill a well to install seismometers.

The advances in interferometry pioneered by Andrew's research group also have had a direct impact on exploration seismics. In particular, the only existing commercial application of interferometry to surface seismics is the interferometric ground-roll prediction and removal method published in Geophysics in 2010 by Halliday et al. This work provided a completely new and model-independent means to predict and adaptively subtract scattered ground roll — a notoriously difficult problem in many areas where land seismic exploration takes place. This last example is particularly relevant because it involved Andrew and coworkers creating an entire theory of interferometry for scattered surface waves, deriving new results such as a generalized optical theorem for surface waves and expressions for surface-wave interferometry in attenuating media.

In 2010, Andrew and David Halliday published two more papers that combined this virtual-receiver interferometry with the more common virtual-source interferometry to construct the theory of source-receiver interferometry. This estimates Green's functions between any pair of sources, receivers, or a source-receiver pair, and is directly related to seismic migration. Indeed, this method generalizes standard linear reverse time migration (RTM) to a nonlinear form of RTM that includes multiples, diffractions, refractions, and evanescent waves, which Andrew and Matteo Ravasi extended to image elastic (solid) media in 2013.

More recently, Andrew and his group have been among the pioneers of the extension of interferometry to Marchenko autofocusing redatuming and imaging theory, including publishing the first real-data example. Milestone achievements from Andrew's group include the extension of Marchenko focusing from acoustic to elastic media, which shows how the elastodynamic Green's function in the interior of a solid object can be obtained using only knowledge of the particle velocity and stress measurement at the surface together with a smooth background velocity model. Based on these developments, Andrew and coworkers have developed new approaches that use seismic data to construct primary reflections free from contamination by internal and free-surface multiples, thus obviating the need for multiple removals from seismic data.

Andrew is one of very few scientists in our community who generates truly novel ideas and potentially game-changing concepts in a wide range of fields. He is an exceptionally broad, productive, and multitalented scientist, who has demonstrated over the past decade how to develop and maintain a highly productive and diverse team of researchers in his academic research group. In 2015 alone, he published 14 papers on an impressively broad range of topics that include seismic migration, Monte-Carlo-based seismic tomography, wave scattering, and inverse theory, together with papers that are well beyond exploration seismology — on palaeontology (he codiscovered the oldest marine reefs built by animals, aged 548 Ma) and on psychology (the influence of individual experts on group decision making).

Andrew blends somewhat uniquely the fields of exploration geophysics, regional and global seismology, inverse theory, experimental design, pore fluid flow, expert elicitation, mathematical geology, and palaeontology. However, if I were to attempt to give Andrew one label it would be as a mathematical geophysicist whose contributions to the field of seismic interferometry have fundamentally changed the field of exploration geophysics, and seismology more generally.


Ian N. MacLeod, Geosoft

Ian N. MacLeod has shown vision, tenacity, and leadership to an extraordinary extent over the past 30 years by building Geosoft, which is the industry-leading potential fields/geochemistry/GIS software system. Geosoft began at the birth of the personal computer in 1982 when MacLeod and Colin Reeves, attracted by the interactive graphics capabilities of these new computers, developed the first geophysical applications for the IBM PC. Under MacLeod's leadership these early applications were adopted and expanded at Paterson, Grant and Watson Ltd., and later spun out as an independent business that has grown to a dominant worldwide status, with more than 130 employees and thousands of customers.

by Colin Reeves

Ian N. MacLeod recognized at an early stage the emergence of personal computer (PC) technology and its potential application to data processing and interpretation in nonseismic geophysics. Despite significant starting difficulties — not the least of which were financial — he made a successful business out of delivering the solutions that have become Geosoft, the software of choice for geophysicists worldwide. His hard work, integrity, and personal modesty combined with a strong intellect delivered a computational workbench that is now, after more than 30 years, second nature for thousands of users, supported by a company infrastructure that has won awards for employee friendliness. As its self-designated chief technologist, Ian still shoulders the responsibility of looking into the future of information and communication technology to ensure that Geosoft retains its place there.

The IBM-PC broke new ground with its launch in August 1981. Ian and I saw its potential for geophysical applications with its affordability, new-age screen graphics, and the promise of becoming an accepted office accessory worldwide. Inside was an operating system by a little-known company called Microsoft. We pooled our resources and bought our very own IBM-PC on 5 March 1982. Important for context in our present age of rapid data transfer, my diary records that three nine-track aeromagnetic grid tapes were dispatched from Ottawa to us in Toronto the day before — by busexcl;

We had our new hardware and immediately set about writing, out-of-hours, the geophysical software that might find application in our day jobs at Paterson, Grant and Watson Limited (PGW). Somewhere along the line, our software initiative acquired the name Geosoft.

The embryonic Geosoft was left with only one parent when I left Toronto in August 1983. But Ian was exactly the right man to nurture the concept to fruition. The spawning of a PC-based software house from within an established consulting practice with a history of offsite mainframe computer use was not easy. Few people realized that such new-fangled hardware, with appropriate software, could undertake grown-up tasks like drawing contour maps. Making the business case for it took a lot more than determination, including not only putting his own job at risk but also investing from his own financial resources to solve cash-flow problems. Eventually, Ian took the brave decision to incorporate Geosoft, separate from PGW, in 1986.

From such small beginnings, the enterprise grew into a structure with offices on all the main continents of the mineral exploration world and expanded into related fields where data processing and map-making expertise were required. “Knowledge from data” became the masthead, and the quality of the product and back-up service became legion from the outset. The needs of the client were always paramount, and a company structure where only those on the payroll could own shares ensured that their needs were never subordinated to those of shareholders.

For more than 30 years, Ian has provided the foresight to remain at the forefront of clients' software needs and continues to look to the future in a rapidly changing world so that he and the company's 120 staff members retain Geosoft's relevance and preeminent market position. One measure of success is that rival software boasts of being “Geosoft compatible,” another that Geosoft formats are routinely specified for data delivery in survey contracts worldwide. It is a de facto standard that the whole industry benefits from, in other words. Recently, Geosoft has assisted countries in Africa with web-accessibility of their precompetitive national geophysical and geologic data sets. Explorers everywhere benefit from such ease of data distribution in general and having Geosoft at hand to organize, process, and present the data. In this way, the added value of the intellectual input from thousands of users is maximized. We are all indebted to Ian for his singular contribution to this.


University of British Columbia - Geophysical Inversion Facility

The University of British Columbia-Geophysical Inversion Facility (UBC-GIF), under the long-time stewardship of Doug Oldenburg, is awarded the Distinguished Achievement Award. Oldenburg and his group have been leaders for many years in the areas of electromagnetics and potential fields. Their research in modeling and inversion has contributed significantly to solving a range of applied problems. The success of UBC-GIF is deserving of recognition.

by Misac Nabighian

Doug Oldenburg started the University of British Columbia-Geophysical Inversion Facility (UBC-GIF) in 1987 with funding from the BC Science and Technology Development Fund. The mandate was to develop a facility to interface between industry and academia and advance research in inversion to help solve applied problems. A research program, Joint and Cooperative Inversion of Geophysical and Geological Data, was soon launched in partnership with 12 mining companies. Initial codes for inverting 2D resistivity and induced polarization (IP) data, followed by 3D inversions of potential field data, and frequency and time domain electromagnetic (EM) data in 1D, were geophysical firsts. The 2D DCIP inversion allowed geophysicists to unravel complexities of pseudosections and led to many instances where data, previously thought to contain no useful geologic information, revealed valuable insights. The formulation of 3D inversions for magnetic and gravity data, enabled by the introduction of depth weighting, soon became routine in industry. The 1D inversion of EM data quickly found use in laterally homogeneous environments and also proved valuable in processing EM data from more complicated terrains. These codes remain workhorses for industry and academia. This was recognized in 2001 by GIF being given the NSERC Synergy Award for: “An established innovative model of long-standing university-industry partnership in precompetitive R&D that has improved the general well-being of an industry.” Subsequent achievements, accelerated by advances in computer hardware and scientific computing, include: the first 3D inversion of ZTEM data, 3D inversion of EM data with many sources, and inversion of airborne TEM data to recover 3D IP models. These have established GIF as a center of excellence for solving quantitative geoscience problems.

The success of GIF is attributable to its brilliant young scientists, including Yaoguo Li, Colin Farquharson, and Eldad Haber, who now have university academic careers and mentor their own students, as well as more than 40 other graduate and postgraduate researchers who have become leaders in industry and government labs. GIF researchers have been recipients of numerous prestigious awards, and many have spawned their own companies. A unique aspect of GIF has been its efforts to convert research codes into useable software for industry. This success is principally attributable to Roman Shekhtman, who has been a programmer for GIF and a liaison with industry.

In addition to its research achievements, GIF is commended for its continual efforts on outreach, through which it has promoted the use and usefulness of geophysical inversions and encouraged best practices. It has made software freely available for academic use and presented workshops to explain the basics of inversion and show applications. Its efforts also include the development of open-source, web-based educational resources: “Inversion for Applied Geophysics,” “Geophysics for Practicing Geoscientists” (, and “EM GeoSci” (, along with computational software “SimPEG” (, which collectively have been used by tens of thousands of people worldwide.

After a quarter century, GIF continues to be a center of excellence for applied geophysics. Visiting scientists interested in problems such as ground-water issues, dam safety, unexploded ordnance, and resource exploration find the availability of inversion software and supportive personnel to be a fruitful environment in which to carry out research. GIF continues with its mission to make geophysics more useful. The latest consortium focuses on using multiple geophysical and geologic data sets to improve inversion results. Notably, it is sponsored by seven mining companies that have continuously sponsored GIF for the last 26 years. This is a testament to the value that GIF research provides and makes it most deserving of SEG's Distinguished Achievement Award.


Julie E. Shemeta

Julie E. Shemeta has served SEG in many capacities. Her technical leadership in microseismology has been invaluable, exemplifying the ethical and technical standards SEG stands for. She has served as member and chair for The Leading Edge Editorial Board, coordinator of special sections, technical editor, and organizing committee chair for SEG Annual Meeting workshops.

by Jim Rutledge

Julie E. Shemeta has been a prominent investigator and always a generous promoter and organizer in the fields of microseismicity and induced seismicity. Julie's involvement goes back long before the topic and technology became popular, or even available, as the commercial service now commonly used in the oil and gas industry. Julie's interest in small earthquakes or the microseismic side of geophysics started with her involvement as an undergraduate student at the University of Washington with the seismicity accompanying the eruption of Mount St. Helens. While a senior earning her BS in geology and afterward working as a seismic analyst for USGS in Seattle, Julie gained experience as an observational seismologist involved in analysis of the seismicity accompanying the 1980 and subsequent eruptions of Mount St. Helens.

She returned to graduate school to earn an MS in geophysics at the University of Utah (1989), studying the aftershocks of the 1980 M 7.3 Borah Peak earthquake.

Her career path since has been diverse and circuitous ranging from oil and gas exploration in the Gulf of Mexico, to geothermal in the western United States and Asia, to microseismic vendor, to the last nine years as a consultant. In all of these different roles, Julie never strayed far from the common thread of microseismicity and earthquakes. As a consultant, she has been involved in projects in Australia, Argentina, Columbia, Canada, Germany, China, India, Mexico, and the United States. Even within the specialty of induced seismicity, Julie's experiences span a wide range of applications including: hydraulic fracture microseismicity, geothermal production microseismicity for reservoir management, mining failure studies related to salt-solution extraction, potash, and other underground mining operations. In addition, she is working with state regulators in Oklahoma on induced seismicity related to wastewater disposal and hydraulic fracturing as well as with other clients on injection-induced seismicity issues. She also has been tapped as an expert witness on several legal cases.

I first met Julie in the early 1990s when she was monitoring a frack in California with Unocal. These were the early days of frack monitoring when we were experimenting with single-level three-component borehole geophones and tiltmeters. I've been a friend and professional colleague of Julie's ever since.

Being a volunteer and contributing to the community in passive seismic is a natural role for Julie. She makes friends easily, is generous and always curious, and so networking the community happens when she is present. Julie's contributions to the Society and the scientific community in general includes:

  • serving as a member of The Leading Edge (TLE) Editorial Board since 2013. Julie recently completed her four-year term on TLE's Editorial Board, serving as board chair in the final year of that term;

  • guest editing or serving as TLE Editorial Board liaison for a number of TLE special issues on passive, induced, and stimulation microseismicity;

  • organizing and cochairing several special workshops and special sessions on induced and applied microseismicity through SEG and SPE;

  • through the Denver Geophysical Society, Julie served as treasurer (2008–2009), and serves as committee member for the 3D Seismic Symposium, and in 2011 started and ran the Denver Microseismic Study Group, a monthly seminar meeting that is still ongoing today.

One of Julie's most significant contributions as a volunteer was accepting a request from the National Research Council to participate in a comprehensive study on induced seismicity in 2011. The investigation resulted in the committee-authored document “Induced seismicity potential in energy technologies,” published by the National Academics Press in 2012. The report's impact and timely release has been significant; it now serves as an often-cited reference for industry, academia, and government regulators.


Anna C. Shaughnessy

Anna C. Shaughnessy has been nominated for Life Membership due to her extensive volunteer and leadership participation within SEG over many years of dedication and commitment to elevate the Society to new heights. Her efforts have increased in recent years as she firmly believes that volunteering for SEG is a way to give back to those that supported her in her career, as well as to help propel the younger generation of geophysicists forward, a much cherished objective of hers.

by Maria Angela Capello

Anna C. Shaughnessy is a multiterrain successful professional. Having received her MS from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1980, she spent her career developing initiatives for academia, research, and especially the oil and gas industry, spanning her efforts in several organizations, on three continents. She started out as a geophysical interpreter, but very soon her natural leadership and mentoring skills catapulted her to leading roles, something she enjoyed more than being a single contributor. Her contributions in this early phase were multiple in the areas of oil and gas exploration, technology development, and deployment of new technological advances at the pilot and full-field scales. A truly multicultural person, Anna's career reflects a plural perspective, having resided in the United States, Saudi Arabia, and Scandinavia and worked extensively on project teams in Australia, Southeast Asia, Europe, Canada, and Brazil. During her industry years, she worked for Mobil Oil, Saudi Aramco, Texaco, and Kerr-McGee/Anadarko.

The academic sector benefitted from Anna's experience and insightful viewpoints in 2011, when she became the executive director for the Earth Resources Laboratory at MIT in Cambridge, one of the most prolific research centers with worldwide-renowned prestige.

Anna's drive toward success and her ability to thrive in academic and corporate environments are a result of a systematic approach to work, coupled with gracious handling of the human aspects of business and professional relationships. Anna's extensive volunteering for SEG is impressive, and a few highlights help me underpin her effectiveness on key initiatives of our Society, where she used her strategic vision, commitment, systematic approach, and personal touch to achieve goals of high impact:

  • SEG Foundation Board and Finance Committee (2014 to present)

  • Women's Network Committee, Advisory Council (2014 to present)

  • HL/DL Committee (2015 to present)

  • Women's Network Committee (six years)

  • SEG Executive Committee, Secretary/Treasurer (one year)

  • SEG Finance Committee (six years)

  • SEG Global Inc. Board (three years)

  • SEG/SEAM Audit Committee (three years)

  • SEG Foundation Campaign (one year)

Few people combine the qualities required to become a role model like Anna does: resilience, multiculturalism, knowledge, communicational ability, mentoring capacity, natural leadership, and true caring. This award is extremely well deserved for Anna, especially as it will highlight her as a natural role model for current and future generations of geoscientists and researchers all over the world.


Alison Weir Small

Alison Weir Small is awarded Life Membership in recognition of her service to the Society during her term as treasurer of the SEG Board of Directors and subsequently on the Finance Committee. Small volunteered for multiple committee assignments and could always be counted on for thoughtful and incisive comments on business brought before the Board.

by Christopher L. Liner

Alison Weir Small, a native of Fort Worth, Texas, earned a BS in geology from Southern Methodist University in 1984 and an MS in geophysics from Pennsylvania State University in 1986. Alison began her career at Mobil E&P US Inc. in the production division of the Midland, Texas, office where she worked for five years focusing on seismic interpretation related to carbonate reservoir development and step-out exploration. After leaving the industry for 10 years to focus on family, Alison returned in 2003 as senior geophysical consultant at Parallel Petroleum LLC in Midland where she worked until early 2016.

Alison is a member of that small group one can describe as exceptional volunteers who bring creative energy to the table. I was very fortunate that Alison served as SEG treasurer (2014–2016) during my term as SEG president. At that time, the oil crash of 2015 picked up steam and rolled through the industry and SEG. As treasurer, it fell squarely on Alison to plan, analyze, and scrutinize the SEG budget as we sailed into very choppy waters. But you can always count on her to be cool in a tight spot and to offer well-reasoned advice. These characteristics were also much needed during her time as treasurer when there was rapid change in SEG accounting staff and software. No one worked harder than Alison to ensure these changes did not affect SEG operations.

As chair of the Geophysical Resource Center 2 Financing Task Force (a joint task force with the SEG Real Estate Committee), Alison worked through the complexities of financing a second building on the SEG Tulsa campus that serves as a source of long-term financial strength for the Society.

Wordsmithing SEG Bylaws changes, participating in the strategic planning process — no corner of the SEG Board's broad mission was untouched by her enthusiasm.

One area of strategic importance to SEG was Alison's attention to the organization, classification, and ranking of SEG activities. As chair of the Continuous Innovation Portfolio Committee, Alison, a team player par excellence, emerged as the clear leader in trying to understand the functioning structure of SEG and quantify the cost/impact of each activity in relation to SEG members. She posed what appears to be a simple question, “Who are we, what do we do, and why do we do it?” but is quite complex in detail. The results were guideposts in the difficult process of refocusing SEG to be successful in an evolving and increasingly competitive landscape.

In addition to this admirable SEG volunteer service, Alison has served as a board member and as president of the Permian Basin Geophysical Society (PBGS). She has represented PBGS at SEG Council meetings and, while PBGS president, served as the 2008 representative at the General Assembly in Tulsa.

Alison is a thoughtful listener and a strong advocate (who argues the point not the person) who can discuss the toughest issues in a breezy, elegant tone. High-level volunteering for SEG alongside Alison has been a delight, and I can say without reservation that she is deeply deserving of SEG Life Membership.


Robert F. Talley

Robert F. Talley is recognized with Life Membership for his nine years of service to the Society on the SEG Foundation Board. His calm demeanor and wise counsel were a steadying influence during a challenging time of change in Foundation management.

by Michael G. Loudin

“Astounded.” That was Robert's self-described reaction to his election to Life Membership. Robert joins a small and significant group of Life Members recognized primarily for their contributions via the SEG Foundation. Robert emphatically provides a primer on being a highly effective Foundation donor, fundraiser, and director. How did it all start?

Robert holds a geophysics degree from Texas A&M University and an MBA from the University of Houston. After a career start with Gulf Oil, he joined Anadarko 35 years ago, quickly advancing to management and culminating in his appointment as director, and later, vice president of geoscience technology. Along the way, he established his trademarks: integrity (both personal and geophysical), servant leadership, loyalty, and humility.

His involvement with the Foundation began in 2006, when Gary Servos and Peter Pangman approached Anadarko to request a major investment in geophysics scholarships. Robert's personal integrity kicked in — as a “nuts and bolts” geophysics data integrity champion who fully utilized SEG for Anadarko's benefit. He recognized that data integrity is only sustained by new entrants to the field, and there is no better “nuts and bolts” way to encourage new entrants than by providing scholarships. Robert worked assiduously to help craft a mutually advantageous donor agreement, and the Foundation's major gifts campaign was off to an $875,000 start.

It cannot be overemphasized how this (and Chevron's Student Leadership Symposium gift) absolutely shattered prior expectations. The SEG Foundation's largest gift to that point had been $30,000, and even SPE had managed only $200,000 in a single gift. Externally, the bar for Foundation donations had been reset, and corporations ended up accounting for $12 million of the $17 million raised by the campaign. Internally, the Foundation transformed from being a distraction for incoming presidents (who had to attend Foundation board meetings) into the second highest source of recent SEG funding, only behind Annual Meetings.

In typical self-effacing manner, Robert minimized his role in all of this, and in a display of servant leadership, he joined the Foundation Board in 2008, where he has distinguished himself in many ways. He became a Sustaining Trustee Associate and swayed many industry colleagues to likewise support the Foundation's important work at that level. He has been a long-time member of the Foundation Finance and Development committees, and has chaired both the Development and Nominations committees. Even now, after stepping down after nine years as a director, Robert continues to be a member of both the Development and Finance committees.

Before closing, it must be emphasized that it is not often that we get to work with someone of Robert's caliber, and this was confirmed by the numerous, enthusiastic comments from his colleagues as this citation was written. These included “consummate geophysicist”; “great mentor”; “role model of an ever-growing and challenging geoscientist”; and “never worked with a more morally outstanding person.” Colleagues chuckle that, although he is generally quiet, when he speaks something pretty profound often comes out. My personal observation is that Robert proves that you don't need to be an extrovert to be a great fundraiser. All of us who have worked with him have been honored and uplifted by the experience.

This award very appropriately recognizes Robert's outstanding and many contributions to SEG via his work for the Foundation. All of the many SEG members who devote so much time, talent, and treasure to supporting the Foundation are pretty sure that Robert wouldn't mind if they basked a little bit in its reflected honor too.

So, Robert, please check your trademark humility at the door for a little while. “Astounded”? You shouldn't be.


Bangliu Zhao

Bangliu Zhao is awarded Life Membership for his tremendous contributions to the Society by serving on the SEG Chinese Steering Committee and many other committees for more than a decade. He has helped to expand SEG business and promote applications of SEG high-end technologies in China.

by Shitai Dong and Xianhuai Zhu

It is most appropriate for SEG to recognize Bangliu Zhao with Life Membership for his volunteering services and technical contributions to professional societies.

As a volunteer, he certainly has done a lot for SEG in China. Beginning in 2004, Zhao served 12 terms as a member of the Organizing and Technical Program Committee of SPE/SEG. In the same year, he began to propel and consistently support the Chinese Annual SEG Student Forums while promoting technology exchange activities. From 2007 to 2016, he repeatedly led delegations from CNPC to SEG International Expositions and Annual Meetings held in Houston, New Orleans, San Antonio, Las Vegas, and Dallas. He was a member of the Academic Committee of the CPS/SEG Beijing International Geophysical Conference and Exhibition in 2009.

In 2011, Zhao served with the Academic Committee of the SPG/SEG Shenzhen International Geophysical Conference. During the same year, he became a member of the SEG Chinese Steering Committee, providing advice and guidance to the SEG business in China. He was the vice president of the Organizing Committee of the CPS/SEG Beijing International Geophysical Conference and Exhibition in 2014. During the next year, Zhao served as an executive chairman of the SEG Depth Model Building and Imaging Workshop and was a member of the Academic Committee of SEG's Depth Model Building and Full Waveform Inversion Workshop.

In 2016, he became the vice president of the Organizing Committee of the SPG/SEG Beijing International Geophysical Conference; gave a presentation titled “Borehole seismic: Yesterday, today and tomorrow” at the SEG Rock Physics and Borehole Geophysics Workshop in China; presented “Geophysical challenges and requirement in China” at the SEG/Aramco Technical Forum of Geophysics Challenges; and gave a keynote speech titled “Progresses and challenges in oil and gas exploration in China” for the Chinese Forum at the SEG Annual Meeting in Dallas. This year, Zhao cochaired the Technical Program Committee of the SEG/Sinopec Foothill Exploration Technical Forum in Nanjing.

As one of the key business leaders who oversees oil and gas geophysical exploration and exploitation in China, he is committed to the popularization and application of SEG technology standards in China; combining with China's local situations he continuously improves the development of the standard. He is devoted to introducing, digesting, absorbing, and developing advanced techniques in seismic acquisition, processing and imaging, and integrated interpretation as well as software development and project management.

Zhao worked in the field with a Chinese seismic crew and completed the first 3D seismic acquisition project in China. He popularized 3D seismic technologies in loess tableland, river networks, cities, and desert terrains in China, and developed the first real-time oriented software for 3D seismic data acquisition in China.

He was in charge of field experiments and applications of 3D high-resolution exploration technology in the Songliao, Tarim, Bohai Bay, Junggar, and Sichuan basins. He promoted the application of second-generation 3D seismic technology in secondary exploration technology in various regions. He also organized and invited many well-established companies and experts from the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, France, and Israel to tackle key technical problems of seismic data imaging in complicated near-surface areas such as mountains with rugged topography, desert, and loess plateaus and problems associated with reservoir predictions of complex formations such as carbonate rocks, tight sandstone, and volcanic rocks.

Zhao promoted the application of prestack time and depth migration techniques in complex structures and complex fault blocks, which enabled the rapid development of the seismic imaging technology of complex mountains. He also promoted the research and application of multicomponent seismic exploration techniques, which played an important role in detecting complicated gas reservoirs in the Erdos and Sichuan basins.

More recently, he promoted the field experiment and applications of broadband, wide-azimuth, high-density, and high-sensitivity single-sensor seismic data acquisition techniques, leading to important technical breakthrough in oil and gas exploration in China. He promoted the research and test of down-hole seismic techniques, including multiwell walkaway vertical seismic profile (VSP), the combination of VSP and surface seismic acquisition and processing, and 3D VSP and crosswell surveys, which played an important role in complex structural imaging and reservoir characterization.

In addition, Zhao has authored four books, including Multi-Component Seismic Exploration Technology and Practice, Typical Examples of Oil Geophysical Prospecting in China, Key Techniques in the Low Permeable Thin Reservoir Seismic Exploration, and Reefs Geological Characteristics and Geophysical Recognition. He also has published 15 papers about gravity-magnetic-electric prospecting, multicomponent seismic exploration, borehole seismic, seismic imaging, reservoirs prediction, and comprehensive research and development strategies.

Zhao's volunteering services and technical contributions to professional societies are now recognized through SEG Life Membership.


Sjoerd A. L. de Ridder

Sjoerd A. L. de Ridder received his PhD from Stanford and is presently a research fellow in the School of Mathematics at the University of Edinburgh. He has published 10 peer-reviewed papers with seven as first author. He was nominated primarily for his novel work on utilizing surface waves from ambient noise for exploration. He made a nice video for the EAGE YouTube series on this topic, which will give an idea of his communication skills. This video also illustrates some of the striking time-lapse images that he produced from repeated ambient noise surveys at the Valhall Field. His strong collection of a large number of letters illustrates exceptional technical contributions including and beyond the primary topic noted above. Additionally, he possesses an unusual intellectual curiosity and engaging style. He is likely to become a leader in our profession and is exemplary of the J. Clarence Karcher Award criteria.

by Biondo Biondi and Andrew Curtis

Sjoerd A. L. de Ridder is the quintessential scientist. He tirelessly challenges received wisdom, and his advisor or indeed anyone else, until he fully understands the logic of an argument, or explains unexpected surprises that he encounters in theory or seismic data. He faces scientific problems with boundless energy and perseverance, and often arrives at creative solutions.

Sjoerd arrived for his PhD at Stanford knowing that he wanted to work on seismic interferometry. In the following years he demonstrated the power of interferometry for imaging and continuously monitoring near-surface seismic velocity without deploying active sources, using long recordings (days) of passive seismic data acquired by dense receiver arrays.

He applied interferometry to passive data from the large, dense 2D surface array above Valhall deployed by BP and partners. Both he and Aurelian Mordret, students at IPGP in Paris, worked in parallel on the same data and showed that surface waves synthesized from passive data can image seismic velocity in the subsurface to a depth of several hundred meters. Sjoerd validated his results by comparing them to images obtained by the use of full-waveform inversion on active-source data. In addition to the Valhall data, Sjoerd applied his method to passive data recorded by the Ekofisk permanent array deployed by ConocoPhillips and partners, obtaining similarly convincing results.

Sjoerd then devised a new method for applying an azimuthally anisotropic eikonal equation directly to the tomography of surface waves synthesized from passive data. The anisotropic velocity fields that he estimated in Valhall and Ekofisk correlate well with the expected anisotropy induced by the measured subsidence of the sea bottom in both fields. The potential to monitor the subsurface continuously in a cost-effective way is one of the exciting applications of passive seismic imaging from permanent arrays. For this application, Sjoerd studied the convergence rate of the interferometric crosscorrelations and the statistical stability of the corresponding estimated models for the Valhall data set recorded in 2004. He then applied the method to two data sets recorded in 2004 and 2010, and obtained qualitatively similar features to changes estimated by other authors from active seismic data sets.

During his fellowship in Edinburgh, Sjoerd envisioned moving beyond interferometry to estimate both the near-surface velocity structure and the spatially complete ambient seismic wavefield using very short periods of noise (minutes). This is a new way to image the subsurface using passive seismic data that may have a huge impact on subsurface real-time monitoring. He calls this method “full wavefield inversion,” a significant extension of the methods first called “wave equation inversion” then “seismic gradiometry.” This powerful new way to estimate subsurface velocity from well-sampled passive data does not require the use of large-scale crosscorrelations as is required by interferometry. First tests on field data show that using the new method we need only 10 minutes of recording to estimate a velocity field roughly equivalent to the one obtained by using the correlation method on 40 hours of passive data, and recent results show that even the passive wavefield itself can be parameterized and estimated.

Finally, Sjoerd also has been active within SEG, serving as president of the Stanford local chapter and participating in the Student Leadership Program. He also has been a student member of the SEG Research Committee and a special section editor for the upcoming Geophysics special section: “Shared advances in exploration and fundamental geophysics.” In Edinburgh, he has been active in engaging academics in a crossdisciplinary research group in observation, imaging, and interpretation that spans geoscience, engineering, medical imaging, and mathematics. His dynamism and creativity always shine through in his actions, which will take him far. He thoroughly deserves this award.


Waruntorn (Jane) Kanitpanyacharoen

Waruntorn (Jane) Kanitpanyacharoen is recommended for her work in rock physics. Kanitpanyacharoen received her PhD from the University of California, Berkeley, did postdoctoral work at Stanford, and presently holds a faculty position at Chulalongkorn University in Thailand. She was nominated most notably for her innovative work on characterizing the elastic properties of shales. In particular, she used x-ray diffraction and microtomography to make major contributions in understanding the mechanisms of shale anisotropy. Further, she has demonstrated remarkable breadth in the rock-physics world by publishing studies ranging from microdeformation mechanisms in the lower crust to the elastic properties of Roman concretes. With 24 peer-reviewed papers (eight as first author) and three papers published in Science, her publication record illustrates that she is a sought-after collaborator and skilled communicator.

by Rudy Wenk

Mineralogy seems quite far removed from exploration geophysics and yet, with students like Waruntorn (Jane) Kanitpanyacharoen, fascinating links became established between microstructures of minerals at the atomic scale and macroscopic properties relevant to hydrocarbon exploration. They created a lot of interest, leading to a wide range of collaborations. Jane had a critical role as her long list of publications demonstrates, and it is wonderful that her contributions to rock physics are acknowledged with the prestigious J. Clarence Karcher Award.

Jane has had an extraordinary career. In 2003, she received the distinguished Royal Thai Government Scholarship that allowed her to come to the United States, first for one year to Miss Porter's Boarding School in Connecticut, then to Duke University where she became interested in earth sciences and received a BS degree with distinction in earth and ocean science. In fall 2008, she came to Berkeley and became involved immediately in research, concentrating on experimental mineral physics. Two first publications with her name on them appeared in 2010 and defined her directions. One was on elastic anisotropy linked to preferred orientation of phyllosilicates in fault gouge, shale, and schist. The second direction was on deformation mechanisms in postperovskite at ultrahigh pressures, connecting diamond anvil cell experiments with seismic anisotropy in the lowermost mantle. In both fields, she became engaged during her graduate studies with 20 journal publications by the time she received her PhD in earth and planetary science from the University of California, Berkeley in 2012.

During her four years at Berkeley, she worked on a broad range of topics. The focus was preferred orientation and seismic anisotropy in shales, including classical samples from Kimmeridge, Muderong, Posidonia, and Qusaiba, studied with synchrotron diffraction, synchrotron microtomography and scanning electron microscopy, and then linking microstructures to macroscopic physical properties with advanced averaging models that take grain shapes and pore distributions into account. Other projects involved mineral reactions in concrete, microstructures in fault gouge, and deformation mechanisms in metals at high pressure, covering a broad range of science, from experiments to theory. This is an amazing record, not only documenting her scientific excellence but also her outstanding capability of collaboration in interdisciplinary fields.

She continued with a geophysics postdoctoral fellow at Stanford University before returning in 2014 to Thailand as lecturer in geology at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok. In 2015 she received the “Best PhD Thesis Award” from the National Research Council of Thailand. At Chulalongkorn, Jane teaches mineralogy and physical geology, educating enthusiastic students who, just like her, continue graduate studies in the United States. She also maintains a research program, collaborating with colleagues in academia and industry. I am convinced she will go a long way in advancing our understanding of rock properties.

For me, this J. Clarence Karcher Award is a great example of the breadth of exploration geophysics, connecting many seemingly unrelated disciplines into a network to better understand some of our most important resources.


Tristan van Leeuwen

Tristan van Leeuwen obtained his MS, in computational science at Utrecht University in the Netherlands. For his PhD, van Leeuwen switched to “Geopfysica” in Delft where he worked with Wim Mulder. He published nine papers and more than 20 abstracts during his PhD and postdoctoral fellowships at the University of British Columbia-Seismic Laboratory for Imaging and Modeling and at CWI, the Netherlands' national research institute for mathematics and computer science. van Leeuwen is now an assistant professor in the Department of Mathematics at Utrecht University. He is the recipient of the 2015 SIAM Geosciences Junior Scientist Prize and the best student paper award for “Velocity analysis with multiples — NMO modeling for layered velocity structures.”

by Felix J. Herrmann

I had the good fortune to run into Tristan van Leeuwen at the tail end of my sabbatical at Delft University back in the spring of 2010. Tristan gave a talk on correlation-based inversion of seismic data. I recall vividly being very much impressed by Tristan's ability to explain technically difficult concepts in a clear and concise manner. Not long afterward, I made Tristan an offer to join my group as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of British Columbia (UBC).

Upon his arrival at UBC, Tristan embarked on a research program on wave-equation-based inversion, the impact of which is felt within industry and within the geophysical and mathematical communities. While at UBC, Tristan made fundamental contributions to on-the-fly source estimation during full-waveform inversion (FWI) and reverse time migration. He was the first to recognize that somewhat ad hoc practices could be seen as an instance of Golub's and Pereyra's variable projection method. Jointly with Aleksandr (Sasha) Aravkin, another postdoctoral fellow in my group at that time, he firmly established this observation with a seminal theoretical paper that has appeared in the mathematical literature. Together with Sasha, Tristan also worked in robust inversion techniques based on data fit objectives that allow for outlying errors by choosing a misfit function derived from the student's t-distribution.

Aside from these important contributions, Tristan's work on stochastic optimization and the penalty method has had by far the most impact. It goes to Tristan's credit to have convinced our community that equivalent, if not better, inversion results can be obtained by working with subsets of shots during FWI. He established this theoretically, by working with researchers in the field of optimization, as well as practically, resulting in reports of computational efficiency gains of four to seven times. We received word from one of our sponsors that this innovation by itself was responsible for rendering FWI into a computationally viable service by contractor companies.

By far the most significant contribution from Tristan's hand is his work on a penalty formulation for FWI. In this formulation, the partial-differential equation (PDE) constraint is not eliminated as in the widely used adjoint-state method, but instead replaced by a weak constraint in the form of a quadratic penalty term. Tristan's main contribution in this work was to combine this formulation with variable projection. This leads to an intuitive formulation where during each iteration a wavefield is estimated that fits the data and the wave equation first, followed by an update on the model that minimizes the wave-equation misfit. This new approach to wave-equation-based inversion and imaging is reported to mitigate some of the adverse effects of cycle skipping; to be more stable for velocity models with strong velocity contrasts such as salt; and to allow for a relatively simple (via a diagonal approximation) invocation of second-order Hessian information important for inversion with constraints, multiparameter inversion, and uncertainty quantification. In addition to publications in the geophysical and inversion literature, this work resulted in the patent application, “A penalty method for PDE-constrained optimization” (US 20160070023 A1).

Finally, what really sets Tristan apart from his peers is the combination of his extraordinary work ethic, his friendly, generous, and open demeanor, and unique skill set, consisting of an extremely strong mathematical background and a profound interest, understanding, and appreciation of applied problems in geophysics and related fields. Mixing this ability with a talent to learn, apply, and above all communicate complex mathematical concepts makes him a great researcher to work with. He is a more than justified recipient of the J. Clarence Karcher Award. I am very grateful for having had the opportunity to work with Tristan, and I am looking forward to his continued innovative contributions to our community.


Rosemary Knight

Rosemary Knight is a professor at Stanford University where she is widely recognized as someone who cares about the personal welfare of students and postdoctoral scholars, as well as their scientific success. She is an example of excellent mentoring and advising. Knight has infused students with an enthusiastic love for geophysics, focusing on the environment and near-surface geophysics. Her long list of awards and compliments are a testament to her dedication and excellence as an educator.

by Elliot Grunewald, Kristina Keating, Stephen Moysey, Andrew Parsekian, and Kamini Singha

Rosemary Knight is the George L. Harrington Professor in the School of Earth, Energy and Environmental Sciences at Stanford University where her research is focused on near-surface geophysics. Rosemary has formally supervised more than 27 graduate students and eight postdoctoral scholars, and she has influenced many more through the informal mentoring and inspiration that she has provided over the years. It is notable that eight of her 15 PhD students have continued in academia, with many others holding influential roles in industry. She has been appreciated not just for the science she does, but also for her teaching, mentoring, and advising excellence. Rosemary particularly excels at collaborating with students and infusing them with a love for geophysics.

Former graduate students have highlighted her importance to them, with some familiar themes. One student said, “Rosemary has, without question, been the most important and formative influence in my career as a scientist.” Another had similar feedback: “I can say without reservation that working as a student with Dr. Knight reshaped my view of the world and not only allowed me to become a geophysicist, but also made me a better hydrologist and better person as well.” A third student noted, “Throughout my doctoral degree, Rosemary was a constant source of motivation and support. She was encouraging when there was a new experiment that I wanted to try and, when I hit roadblocks in my research, she helped me find different ways of looking at a problem. Despite the fact that she was chairing the department of geophysics, serving on the university's budget committee, developing the I-Earth course series, and chairing the AGU Near-Surface Geophysics Focus Group, Rosemary never failed to take the time to talk about my research progress and show enthusiasm for my project. … Rosemary's unequivocal support was instrumental in convincing me to follow in her footsteps.”

Rosemary is not only interested in graduate education but also has pushed Stanford to be a leader in undergraduate education. Pamela Matson, Chester Naramore dean of the School of Earth, Energy and Environmental Sciences at Stanford University, said of Rosemary: “She has also conceived and led a major initiative at Stanford University to enhance education in the area of earth and environmental sciences. In the I-Earth initiative (Introduction to Planet Earth), Rosemary led an effort that identified or created a selection of courses designed to provide undergraduates with an understanding of how earth works — in particular how humans interact with their resource and environmental systems. The I-Earth byline — ‘not yet a requirement for Stanford…. already a requirement for life' — communicates not only the importance of the subject matter, but Rosemary's commitment to ensure that all college students understand something about the planet that we share.”

Beyond her contributions to the next generation of scientists, Rosemary has also pushed the envelope on the use of near-surface geophysics to solve environmental problems. She is perhaps best known for her contributions in two areas: rock physics on partially saturated samples and, more recently, developing nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) as a reliable groundwater characterization method. With respect to NMR, Rosemary has been a pioneer in defining this field and developing imaginative applications of the technique. Following the outlook mirrored in her other fields of research, Rosemary's approach to training students in NMR has emphasized addressing the most fundamental (and often most poorly understood) aspects of the NMR response. In addition to the immediate impacts of her discoveries in NMR, her focus on fundamentals has built a robust foundation that has allowed others in the hydrogeophysical community to further advance this methodology.

Rosemary has said that we all need to be “a positive force for change.” It is clear that she has accomplished this by injecting the next generation of near-surface geophysicists with enthusiasm and curiosity and motivating them through the challenges of research. The sum of all of these examples demonstrates how Rosemary has been a consistent inspiration to the next generation of geophysical scientists.


Scott Smithson

Scott Smithson is well known in the SEG education and research communities. He is being recognized with the SEG Outstanding Educator Award for his many contributions to excellence in geophysical and geologic research and education during a long and distinguished career in both academia and industry spanning more than 50 years.

by Roy A. Johnson

The essence of being a great educator is not in imparting important facts to one's students, but rather in freeing their imaginations so they can discover for themselves what is important. Scott Smithson has an inherent talent for inspiring students and associates that defies easy characterization, but it is readily apparent from the success of his many students and the close bonds he has developed with and among them that have lasted for decades.

With the active engagement of his students, Scott has had a profound effect on shaping scientific investigations of the earth's continental crust. Scott initiated the industry-supported University of Wyoming (UW) Volcanics Project, based on innovative use of vertical seismic profiles, to obtain a better understanding of wave propagation through volcanic rocks, developing approaches that he also applied to crustal reflection seismology. His student-oriented, hands-on approach in data acquisition, processing, and interpretation to answering significant scientific questions opened many opportunities for his students in the exploration industry and academia.

After graduating in 1954 with a degree in geological engineering from the University of Oklahoma, Scott worked as a seismologist for Shell Oil in the Texas Panhandle and also served in the U.S. Army, working on communications systems for the Pentagon. Beginning in 1957, while pursuing an MS degree at UW, Scott worked nights for The Geotechnical Corp., locating nuclear bomb tests and earthquakes for the U.S. Air Force. In 1959, Scott went to Norway to conduct research for his PhD at the University of Oslo, where he was awarded a Vetlesen postdoctoral position from 1963 to 1964. In 1964, Scott moved back to Laramie to start his academic career as the only geophysicist at UW.

In the early days, Scott and his students used donated analog recording systems from Shell and Amoco, but in 1972, Exxon donated a 24-channel digital recording system that led Scott and the first UW student majoring in the geophysics option, Robert Wyckoff, to run probably the world's only two-man seismic crew, “Bankrupt Exploration,” with Bob shooting, Scott recording, and both working as “juggies.” After Bob graduated and went to work for Conoco (recently retiring as director of worldwide geophysical operations), he helped arrange the donation of four vibroseis trucks and two MDS-10 recording systems. Scott's crustal seismology program blossomed from that point on. He developed a fellowship among his many students, spanning all generations, that is truly remarkable. Early on, Scott's students dubbed themselves “Smithson's Commandos” — a moniker developed out of a sense of pride for the good work they were able to accomplish under very difficult conditions and, particularly, a sense that anything was possible with perseverance and teamwork.

For more than four decades at UW, Scott mentored at least 92 students of his own (10 BS, 59 MS, 23 PhD) and six postdocs and worked with many other students in the United States and in Eastern and Western Europe. Of his students, 60 to 70, including seven PhDs, went into the petroleum industry, around 11 went into mining and environmental fields, and 16 went on to faculty positions at major universities around the world. As Kate Miller, provost and vice president for academic affairs at UW noted in her nominating letter, “Few professors can claim to have made such major contributions to both industry and the academic workforce over their careers.” But it isn't just the numbers that matter, it is what Scott's influence on all of us has meant to our careers and lives and how we carry his impact forward. Ultimately, this is why Scott is being recognized with the SEG Outstanding Educator Award.

2018 Honors and Awards nominations sought

One of SEG's great traditions is the recognition of individuals and organizations for their contributions to geophysics and to the Society. The deadline for submitting nominations for deserving recipients to be honored at the 2018 SEG Annual Meeting in Anaheim, California, is 1 January 2018.

Detailed descriptions of SEG's awards are listed on the SEG website ( Nominations should be sent to . Please include a brief summary describing the specific achievement or contribution that you think merits formal recognition by SEG. Supporting information and letters of recommendation are very useful to the committee.

Your timely input is vital to this important function of SEG. Thank you for your assistance in making SEG's Honors and Awards Program a meaningful and representative activity of the Society.

Achievement Awards

Best Student Paper Presented at 2016 Annual Meeting

“Robust and flexible mixed-norm inversion” Dominique Fournier

Best Student Poster Paper Presented at 2016 Annual Meeting

“Multicomponent distributed acoustic sensing” Ivan Lim Chen Ning

Best Paper Presented at 2016 Annual Meeting

“Diffraction imaging enhancement using spectral decomposition for faults, fracture zones, and collapse feature detection in carbonates” Gregg Zelewski, William A. Burnett, Enru Liu, Mary K. Johns, Xianyun Wu, Jie Zhang, and Gene Skeith

Best Poster Paper Presented at 2016 Annual Meeting

“2D seismic models and quantitative investigation of an undrilled Eocene fan complex” Nicholas Montevecchi, Ian Atkinson, Richard Wright, Deric Cameron, and James E. Carter

Best Paper in The Leading Edge in 2016

“Resaturated pay: A new infill target type identified through the application and continuous improvement of 4D seismic at the Forties Field” Grant Byerley, Lyndsay Singer, and Philip T. S. Rose

Best Paper in Geophysics in 2016

“3D seismic image processing for faults” Xinming Wu and Dave Hale

Best Paper in Interpretation in 2016

“Bright spots, dim spots: Geologic controls of direct hydrocarbon indicator type, magnitude, and detectability, Niger Delta Basin” Krzysztof M. (Chris) Wojcik, Irene S. Espejo, Adebukonla M. Kalejaiye, and Otuka Kingsley Umahi