Society of Exploration Geophysicists announces 2017 Honors and Awards recipients

Recipients will be honored Tuesday, 26 September at the SEG International Exposition and 87th Annual Meeting

Tulsa, OK, 25 May 2017 – The Society of Exploration Geophysicists (SEG) has announced its 2017 Honors and Awards recipients. Dr. Samuel (Sam) H. Gray was unanimously recommended by the Honors and Awards Committee and SEG Board of Directors as the recipient of the 2017 Maurice Ewing Medal, SEG’s highest honor. 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, anti-aliasing in Kirchhoff migration, true-amplitude imaging, beam migration, and wave-equation migration. Established in 1978, the Maurice Ewing Medal is awarded to a person deserving of special recognition through having made major contributions to the advancement of exploration geophysics.

Gray and other SEG 2017 award recipients will be honored during the SEG International Exposition and 87th Annual Meeting’s Honors and Awards Ceremony on Tuesday, 26 September at 8:00 p.m. at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston, Texas.

Gray’s contributions to the geophysics community over the years are many. He became the first author to win the combination of SEG awards for Best Paper in Geophysics (1999), Best Paper Presented at the Annual Meeting (2004), and Best Paper in The Leading Edge (2009). He was also awarded SEG’s Reginald Fessenden Award in 2010, recognizing his contributions to beam migration and other true-amplitude imaging issues. He has served as an Associate Editor of Geophysics and often as the unofficial editor for CGG. He was an SEG Distinguished Lecturer in 2012, traveling the world to present “A brief history of depth … and time seismic imaging.” Though now retired, Sam realized he was not quite ready to leave the excitement of seismic imaging behind and continues to assist as a research consultant for CGG.

Manika Prasad, Associate Professor at the Colorado School of Mines, is the recipient of the Virgil Kauffman Gold Medal, which is awarded to those who have made an outstanding contribution, either of a technical or professional nature, to the advancement of geophysical exploration. She was awarded this honor based on her extensive experimental work in rock physics at the Colorado School of Mines. 

Honorary Membership has been awarded to Yaoguo Li and Carlos Torres-Verdín. Li has served as an Associate Editor of Geophysics and as Guest Associate Editor for several special sections in both Geophysics and Interpretation. He wrote or co-wrote numerous papers on inverting gravity, gravity, gradiometry, magnetic and electrical (resistivity and IP) data in both 2D and 3D. Torres-Verdín has published nearly 100 articles in leading journals, including Geophysics (more than 50 articles), The Leading Edge, Petrophysics, and others. He has made significant contributions in broad areas in borehole measurements with multi-phase fluid flow, and geostatistical inversion of seismic data and well logs.

Andrew Curtis is the recipient of the Reginald Fessenden Award. The Reginald Fessenden Award is given to a person who has made a specific technical contribution to exploration geophysics, such as an invention or a theoretical or conceptual advancement. Curtis holds the Chair of Mathematical Geoscience at the University of Edinburgh, UK. Over the last 12 years, Andrew has published a succession of highly influential papers in the area of seismic interferometry and theoretical seismology.

The recipient of the 2017 Cecil Green Enterprise Award is Ian MacLeod. This award recognizes an individual who has demonstrated courage, ingenuity, and achievement while risking his or her own resources in developing a product, service, organization, or activity that has contributed to the industry. MacLeod’s company, Geosoft, created the industry-leading Potential Fields/Geochemistry/GIS software system, with widespread adoption in the oil & gas, minerals, and near-surface geophysics sectors. MacLeod developed the Grid eXchange Format (GXF) adopted by the SEG Gravity and Magnetics Committee as an SEG standard. He also implemented many published algorithms, made available many useful data sets and technical notes, and published Colin Reeves’ 2009 eBook, Aeromagnetic Surveys: Principles, Practice and Interpretation.

The SEG Distinguished Achievement Award is given to a company, institution, or other organization for a specific technical contribution or contributions that have substantially advanced the science of exploration geophysics. It has been awarded to the University of British Columbia – Geophysical Inversion Facility, under the long-time stewardship of Doug Oldenburg. Oldenburg and his group have led the development of geophysical inversion methods and associated software for quantitative interpretation of geophysical data sets acquired by the mineral industry and other groups to explore Earth’s shallow subsurface. 

The SEG Special Commendation Award was established to recognize deserving persons for meritorious service to the public, the scientific community, or to the profession of applied geophysics. Julie Shemeta is awarded the SEG Special Commendation for her contributions to the science of passive microseismic monitoring, data acquisition, and interpretation. Her early career at Unocal and Chevron was focused on earthquake seismology and microseismic monitoring of injection into geothermal reservoirs, which became the basis of microseismic monitoring of hydraulic fracturing.

SEG awards Life Membership this year to Anna Shaughnessy, Alison Small, Robert Talley, and Bangliu Zhao. SEG confers Life Membership on persons who have voluntarily rendered exceptionally meritorious service to the Society that, in the unanimous opinion of the Honors and Awards Committee and the SEG Board of Directors, warrants recognition.

The J. Clarence Karcher Award is given in recognition of significant contributions to the science and technology of exploration geophysics by a young geophysicist. Recipients must be less than 35 years of age on 1 November of the year preceding the award’s presentation. Tristan van Leeuwen, Waruntorn (Jane) Kanitpanyacharoen, and Sjoerd de Ridder are the 2017 recipients of the Karcher Award.

Rosemary Knight and Scott Smithson are the recipients of the 2017 SEG Outstanding Educator Award. Since 1993 Knight has dedicated a great deal of effort, time, and attention to educating not only graduate students but also undergraduates at Stanford University. In 2000 she developed The Water Course, where students gain a perspective on water-related issues around the world. More recently she has begun to lead an effort at Stanford, referred to as I-Earth (Introduction to Planet Earth), which offers a set of courses that explore the intersection between natural and human systems. Smithson’s scientific contributions helped lead the University of Wyoming Department of Geology and Geophysics to distinction in geophysical imaging of the earth’s continental crust, and his training of many very talented students and post-doctoral associates over his career has had a far-reaching impact in furthering science and industry exploration successes.

The full list of SEG Honors and Awards recipients can also be found on the SEG website.

About the Society of Exploration Geophysicists

The Society of Exploration Geophysicists is a not-for-profit organization committed to connecting the world of applied geophysics. With more than 27,000 members in 128 countries, SEG provides educational and technical resources to the global geosciences community through publications, books, events, forums, professional development courses, young professional programs, and more. Founded in 1930, SEG fosters the expert and ethical practice of geophysics in the exploration and development of natural resources, characterization of near surface, and mitigation of earth hazards. For more information visit

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