Society of Exploration Geophysicists announces 2018 Honors and Awards recipients

Introducing the inaugural Craig J. Beasley Award for Social Contribution

Tulsa, OK, 22 June 2018 – The Society of Exploration Geophysicists (SEG) has announced its 2018 Honors and Awards recipients. Albert Tarantola was recommended by the Honors and Awards Committee as the recipient of the 2018 Maurice Ewing Medal, SEG’s highest honor.

Tarantola is universally recognized as the principal contributor to the emerging field of Full Waveform Inversion (FWI). His writings on the subject have become legendary, as he was also the first to recognize the close relationship between seismic migration and seismic inversion by proving that a seismic migration is the first step in an iterative attempt to solve a full waveform seismic inversion problem. His pioneering research in inverse problem theory, Bayesian probabilistic formulation, and uncertainty analyses have far-reaching impact not just in exploration geophysics, but also in global geophysics, medical imaging, and other branches of science and economics. He passed away on 6 December 2009 in Paris at the age of 60, but his theory remains alive. 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.

Tarantola and other SEG 2018 award recipients will be honored during the SEG International Exposition and 88th Annual Meeting’s Honors and Awards Ceremony in Anaheim, California on Tuesday, 16 October, at 8:00 p.m.

Tarantola’s contributions to the geophysics community over the years are many. Working with Bernard Velette at the Institut de Physique du Globe (IPG) de Paris in 1982, he wrote two of the most important papers on inverse theory, titled ‘Inverse Problems =Quest for Information’ and ‘Generalised Non-linear Inverse problems solved using the least Squares Criterion.’ By using a probabilistic approach, and setting up the framework for discrete inverse problems, these papers were instantaneously recognized by the Earth Science community. He extended this elegant theory to seismic waveform inversion and wrote several papers, starting from acoustic to elastic, and these papers formed the foundation of seismic full waveform inversion. He established the concept of adjoint source and the cross-correlation between modeled data and residual in order to compute the gradient for the waveform inversion, in fact for any inverse problems. He also showed that the first iteration of seismic waveform inversion is migration. Industry recognized the importance of this work and funded a consortium, called GTG, where he started testing these ideas on synthetic and real data, and trained numerous students who took positions in Industry.

The inaugural Craig J. Beasley Award for Social Contribution is awarded to Paul D. Bauman, who has spent more than ten years doing humanitarian geophysical work in Uganda, Indonesia, and Malawi. He successfully completed SEG Geoscientists Without Borders® projects in Kakuma and Uganda. Since founding the Komex (now Advisian) geophysics group in the early 1990s, Paul has been instrumental in facilitating groundwater exploration and community water supply projects, including in Yemen, between 1992 and 2004, and in Malawi between 1999 and 2000. In 2014, volunteering his services with the small NGO IsraAID, he taught an introductory hydrogeology and groundwater exploration course to refugees and host community Turkana people living under harsh drought conditions in and around the 186,000-person Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya, as part of UNHCR’s Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) initiative. With a grant from the SEG’s Geoscientists Without Borders® (GWB) humanitarian aid fund, Paul returned to Kakuma in January 2016 with a team of volunteer geophysicists and equipment. Based on the results, at least three high-yielding water wells were installed, supplying safe drinking water to approximately 60,000 refugees and Turkana. In January 2018, a second GWB grant led to another volunteer project in northern Uganda, whereby Paul took a team of geophysicists and hydrogeologists to teach local villagers how to repair damaged water wells and how to use donated geophysical equipment to site new water wells.

Mrinal Kanti Sen, Professor and Jackson Chair at the Institute for Geophysics at the University of Texas at Austin, 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. He was awarded this honor for his body of work in advancing the science of exploration geophysics, especially in the preceding five years. He has made significant contributions in applied seismology on elastic anisotropic wave propagation, computational seismology, FWI, inversion of seismic data for fracture analysis, fluid content, rock properties and improved resolution, reservoir characterization, and CO2 sequestration.

Honorary Membership has been awarded to Fred Aminzadeh. He has made significant contributions to the field of exploration geophysics and seismic signal processing through his numerous books, patents, and publications with a focus on technical advances in discipline boundaries applied geophysics, petroleum engineering, computer science, and electrical engineering. He has performed pioneering work on seismic elastic modeling, seismic pattern recognition and artificial intelligece, reservoir monitoring, and induced seismicity. Fred has served the SEG as president and has also served on numerous SEG committees including the Research Committee and Global Affairs Committee.

John Burg and Necati Gülünay are the recipients of the Reginald Fessenden Award. This award honors a person who has made a specific technical contribution to exploration geophysics, such as an invention or a theoretical or conceptual advancement. John made many fundamental contributions to exploration geophysics in the field of signal processing, including the development of multi-channel Wiener filtering, the applications of it to deghosting, pie-slice filtering, and the analysis of signals from mantle P waves. He was awarded the first patent on deconvolution, and his work on properties of prediction error filters led to Maximum Entropy Spectral Analysis (MEM) in the mid 60s, and then the Burg Technique to produce better autocorrelations to which MEM could apply. Necati’s work in methods for seismic data denoising and interpolation has been adopted worldwide and is central to workflows for seismic data preconditioning. His research and implementation reflects the symbiosis between geophysics and electrical/communication engineering. He extended the f-x deconvolution method to an f-x-y deconvolution approach making it commercial in 3D. He also developed innovative implementations of the seismic data interpolation in the f-kx-ky domain, making these algorithms highly effective and accurate.

The recipient of the 2018 Cecil Green Enterprise Award is Parallel Geoscience Corporation (PGC), including Daniel Herold, Robin Herold, and Peter W. Flanagan. PGC developed PC seismic processing software, with Seismic Processing Workshop (SPW) as its main product. Originally running on Macintosh computers using coprocessors for speed, a subsequent rewrite of the system allowed portability across Windows, Linux, and Mac operating systems.
Parallel has worked with Sandia, Los Alamos, IFP, and multiple universities around the world, including IRIS member universities. There are more than 1,000 SPW installations in more than 70 countries.

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 Bureau of Economic Geology for its contributions to geophysics in oil and gas exploration and development over the last century. Contributions include: the early development of reflection seismology and seismic stratigraphy; the transfer of 3D seismic technology to independents in Texas and surrounding states; the release of 3D digital seismic data sets to the public; oversight and management of the Devine Test Site; several dedicated seismic research labs; graduate student training; geoscience education for K-12 students; and maintaining the largest U.S. core repository.

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. Maria Angela Capello, a previous recipient of SEG Life Membership, is awarded the SEG Special Commendation for her distinguished record of service to the scientific community and the profession, including her leadership in the empowerment of women and the development of talent for the oil industry in different regions of the world. She has been a leader in many SEG activities, committees, conferences, programs, and research related to seismic interpretation, seismic modeling, and 4D seismic. She was one of the founding members of the SEG Women’s Network Committee (serving as chair twice), as well as chair of the SEG Global Affairs Committee. She has been a member of the SEG Research, Development and Production, and Interpretation committees. Capello served as SEG Vice President and is currently a member of the Board of Directors of SEAM and the 2018-19 Honorary Lecturer for the Middle East and Africa.

SEG awards Life Membership this year to Huasheng Zheng and Xianhuai Zhu. Zheng has served as vice chairman of the SEG China Advisory Committee since 2007. He is an outstanding leader in the geophysical industry and has played a key role in the success of SEG activity in China, including increasing SEG membership within his company (BGP) and promoting SEG training courses in China for over 2,000 professionals from three major national oil companies, universities, and institutions. Zhu is recognized for his exceptionally meritorious service to the Society and SEG China. Zhu, a 2012 recipient of the SEG’s Reginald Fessenden Award, served on the SEG Board of Directors from 2014-2017 as a Director at Large. He also served as Geophysics Associate Editor from 1997 – 2002.  In addition to those duties he has also served as member or chair on several committees and continues to be a valued volunteer for SEG.

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. This year’s award goes to Yunyue Elita Li, Matteo Ravasi, and Tieyuan Zhu. Since receiving her PhD in 2014, Li has authored seven papers in Geophysics, one in the The Leading Edge, and a co-authored piece in Geophysical Journal International. Ravasi is awarded for his work on Marchenko-based imaging (with the first application to field data), wavefield redatuming, and the development of a new theory of elastic RTM based on wavefield interferometry. Zhu has authored 20 peer-reviewed publications since receiving his PhD in 2014, with ten of those in GEOPHYSICS. He is noted for his work in attenuation via viscoacoustic theory, Q compensation in RTM, and expertise in computational geophysics.

Hendratta Ali and Kristina Keating are the recipients of the 2018 SEG Outstanding Educator Award. Ali is Associate Professor of Geosciences at Fort Hays State University (FHSU) in Hays, Kansas, where she has developed ten new courses, including three graduate courses, one virtual online course, one open education resource course, and the Apprenticeship in Geosciences course that gives students the opportunity to gain hands-on experience as apprentices with established industry professionals, while also applying the skills and knowledge they have learned in the classroom. Keating, Associate Professor of Earth & Environmental Sciences at Rutgers University, has been an outstanding mentor of PhD near-surface geophysics students. This year she is leading a new NSF-funded GEOPATHS project that aims to improve geoscience education via novel, field/research-based learning activities. She has actively promoted women in STEM fields, developed new courses including co-developing a mandatory course in quantitative geosciences, which teaches undergraduates important programming skills. She also volunteers time to hold a weekly seminar to help foreign graduate students improve their writing skills.

The full list of 2018 SEG Honors and Awards recipients is:

  • Maurice Ewing Medal – Albert Tarantola
  • Craig J. Beasley Award for Social Contribution – Paul D. Bauman
  • Virgil Kauffman Gold Medal – Mrinal Kanti Sen
  • Reginald Fessenden Award – John Burg and Necati Gülünay
  • Life Membership – Huasheng Zheng and Xianhuai Zhu
  • J. Clarence Karcher – Matteo Ravasi, Yunyue Elita Li, and Tieyuan Zhu
  • Special Commendation – Maria Angela Capello
  • Distinguished Achievement – Bureau of Economic Geology
  • Honorary Membership – Fred Aminzadeh
  • Cecil Green Enterprise AwardDaniel Herold, Robin Herold, and Peter Flanagan (Parallel Geoscience Corporation)
  • Outstanding Educator – Hendratta Ali and Kristina Keating
  • Best Paper in The Leading Edge: "Operational deployment of compressive sensing systems for seismic data acquisition", Charles C. Mosher, Chengbo Li, Frank D. Janiszewski, Laurence S. Williams, Tiffany C. Carey, and Yongchang Ji
  • 2017 Best Paper in GEOPHYSICS: “Exploiting surface consistency for surface-wave characterization and mitigation — Part 1: Theory and 2D examples” and “Part 2: Application to 3D Data,” Christine E. Krohn and Partha S. Routh
  • 2017 Best Paper in Interpretation: “Time-variant wavelet extraction with a local-attribute-based time-frequency decomposition for seismic inversion,” Rui Zhang and Sergey Fomel
  • Top Oral Paper Presented at SEG’s 87th Annual Meeting: “Probabilistic seismic inversion using pseudo-wells,” Patrick Connolly and Mark O'Brien
  • Top Poster Paper Presented at SEG’s 87th Annual Meeting: “New global lake gravity from advances in satellite altimetry processing,” Samuel Cheyney, Kirsten Fletcher, Chris Green, and Simon Campbell
  • Top Student Oral Paper Presented at SEG’s 87th Annual Meeting: “Removing numerical dispersion artifacts from reverse time migration and full-waveform inversion,” Erik Koene
  • Top Student Poster Paper Presented at SEG’s 87th Annual Meeting: “Semiautomatic seismic well ties and log data interpolation,” Sean Bader

The list of SEG Honors and Awards recipients can also be found on the SEG website and details on honorees, including their citations, will be featured in an upcoming issue of The Leading Edge.


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