Society of Exploration Geophysicists announces 2020 Honors and Awards recipients

One of SEG's great traditions is the special recognition of individuals and organizations for their contributions to geophysics and to the Society.

Tulsa, OK, 11 May 2020 – The Society of Exploration Geophysicists (SEG) has announced its 2020 Honors and Awards recipients. Leon Thomsen is the recipient of SEG’s highest honor, the 2020 Maurice Ewing Medal, awarded to a person who is deserving of special recognition for making major contributions to the advancement of the science and profession of exploration geophysics.

Thomsen was the Fall 1997 SEG Distinguished Lecturer, 2002 SEG/EAGE Distinguished Instructor, and served as SEG President for the 2006-2007 term. His industrial career began in 1980, at Amoco's Tulsa Research Center. In 1995, he moved to Amoco's Worldwide Exploration Group in Houston to help implement the ideas (e.g. AVO) that he had earlier helped to invent. After the 1999 merger, he served in BP's Exploration and Production Technology Group in Houston as principal geophysicist and senior advisor. Following retirement from BP in 2008, he remains professionally and scientifically active as chief scientist of Delta Geophysics, research professor at the University of Houston, and visiting scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Thomsen previously served on the SEAM Board of Directors.

Carlos Torres-Verdín, founder and program director of the Formation Evaluation Joint Industry Research Consortium, 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. Torres-Verdín has made significant contributions by developing new methods in applied electromagnetics, physics-based understanding of fluid flow from borehole measurements, and new laboratory results for quantifying fluid transport in shale. Most recently, Carlos has extended his theoretical work to application in industry which includes the development of new methods for modeling, processing and interpreting borehole measurements in non-vertical wells and the geostatistical inversion of well log and surface seismic data for reservoir description.

The Reginald Fessenden Award recipients are Felix Herrmann, Charles Mosher, Faqi Liu, Laura Pyrak-Nolte, and Evert Slob. This honor is awarded to those who have made a specific technical contribution to exploration geophysics, such as an invention or a theoretical or conceptual advancement, which merits special recognition.

Felix Herrmann has focused his research and consortium on compressive sensing and sparse inversion for many years, and he and his students have suggested applications involving seismic acquisition and processing.

Charles Mosher has applied compressive sensing and sparse inversion to reducing the cost of seismic acquisition. While at Conoco, Mosher led an effort to apply these ideas using a combination of carefully designed randomness in seismic surveys combined with sparse inversion reconstruction methods to improve sampling while reducing aliasing.

Faqi Liu has described and analyzed a broad spectrum of reverse time migration (RTM) artifacts, including ellipses, rabbit ears, and cigar wave paths. These are fundamental ideas originally described in the 1980s for full waveform inversion, but first revealed by Faqi Liu for RTM.

Laura Pyrak-Nolte developed a fluid flow vs elastic stiffness function that is an important contribution, as it provides a fundamental relation between two important and often measured properties. This relation, coupled with knowledge of fracture surface properties, provides a promising approach for inferring fluid flow properties from seismic data in fractured rock.

Evert Slob has contributed key scientific and technological advances in electromagnetic interferometry in a series of papers from 2007 to 2013, representing only a small selection of his 120+ publications. He devotes a significant portion of his scientific endeavors to support, engage, and mentor students and postdoctoral scientists.

SEG awards Life Membership this year to Jie Zhang, Founder and Chairman of GeoTomo, for his exceptional service to the Society. Previously Zhang was awarded the SEG Reginald Fessenden (2012) and Outstanding Educator (2015) Awards. He has served on the SEG Board of Directors and numerous committees, and is credited for his work supporting the SEG China office along with Alfred Liaw.

The J. Clarence Karcher Award is given in recognition of significant contributions to the science and technology of exploration geophysics by a young geophysicist of outstanding abilities. Recipients must be less than 35 years of age on 1 November of the year preceding presentation of the award. A maximum of three awards can be given each year. This year’s recipients are Fangyu Li, Siddharth Misra, and Xinming Wu.

Fangyu Li is postdoctoral fellow in electrical and computer engineering, University of Georgia. He has authored or co-authored eleven papers in Interpretation, six papers in GEOPHYSICS® and more than 30 expanded abstracts for presentations at SEG Annual Meetings. He holds three U.S. patents and has served as an associate editor for two journals. His research interests include signal processing, streaming data analysis, seismic interpretation, seismic imaging, distributed computing, and IoT security.

Siddharth Misra is an associate professor of petroleum engineering at Texas A&M University and a research affiliate with the College of Earth and Energy at the University of Oklahoma. Prior to that, from 2007 to 2010, he worked as a wireline field engineer in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and the U.S. with Halliburton. Dr. Misra’s work has contributed to the fields of electrical and electromagnetic methods, borehole geophysics, data inversion, petrophysics, and machine learning. Dr. Misra is currently an SEG instructor.

Xinming Wu received his PhD in geophysics in 2016 from the Colorado School of Mines where he was a member of the Center for Wave Phenomena. He continued on as a postdoc at the Bureau of Economic Geology, University of Texas at Austin, and then joined the University of Science and Technology of China and became a professor in 2019, where he started a research group working on processing and interpretation of geoscience datasets. Dr. Wu was selected as the 2020 SEG Honorary Lecturer for South & East Asia in 2020 to present his understandings and work on deep learning in seismic interpretation. He is an associate editor for Interpretation and the Journal of Applied Geophysics.

Marianne Rauch is the recipient of the 2020 Special Commendation Award, established for the purpose of recognizing and giving special commendation by the SEG to deserving persons for meritorious service to the public, the scientific community, or to the profession. She is author or co-author of more than 25 SEG papers, numerous presentations at SEG and other professional societies, and two CE courses. In the last few years her papers have focused on utilizing 3D seismic technology effectively in unconventional resource development.

This year’s Distinguished Achievement Award goes to Smart Exploration. This award is given from time to time to a company, institution, or other organization for a specific technical contribution or contributions that have, in the opinion of the Honors and Awards Committee and the Board of Directors, substantially advanced the science of exploration geophysics. The Smart Exploration consortium, a partnership between industry, academia and government, has produced numerous peer reviewed papers that technically advance the science and enhanced role of applied geophysics as a critical tool for lower impact mineral exploration needed for emerging green technologies.

James Rector is this year’s recipient of the Honorary Membership Award, awarded to those who have made distinguished contributions to exploration geophysics or a related field or to the advancement of the profession of exploration geophysics through service to the Society. He has authored a large number of papers on a variety of topics, served as assistant and associate editor of GEOPHYSICS®, and as vice president of the SEG Executive Committee.

The Cecil Green Enterprise Award is awarded to Gary Tubridy (Avalon Sciences Ltd.) The Enterprise Award was established to recognize the importance of an individual enterprise to the economic vitality of the industry that has demonstrated courage, ingenuity, and achievement while risking its own resources and future in developing a product, service, organization, or activity which is recognized as a distinct and worthy contribution to the industry. Starting from scratch and risking its own capital, Avalon developed itsanalog Advanced Seismic Receiver and then the digital Geochain system in various size, pressure, and temperature configurations. Tubridy became sole owner of Avalon in 2008, growing the company to 70 employees with offices in the UK, Houston, Abu Dhabi, Singapore and Beijing.

This year’s Outstanding Educator Award recipients are Shalivahan Shalivahan and Ilya Tsvankin. Shalivahan is a professor in the Department of Applied Geophysics at the Indian Institute of Technology (Indian School of Mines), Dhanbad, and leads the Center for Innovation, Incubation, and Entrepreneurship and is dean for research and development. In 2012 he was awarded the National Geoscience Award by the government of India for his contributions in resistivity, induced polarization (IP), self-potential (SP), electromagnetic (EM), and magnetic and gravity methods. Tsvankin is a professor of geophysics at the Colorado School of Mines and the director of the Center for Wave Phenomena. He is well known in the exploration geophysics community for his profound contributions in seismic anisotropy as well as three books and more than 150 scientific papers. He has been awarded both the SEG Honorary Membership and the Virgil Kauffman Gold Medal. Ilya is an SEG instructor and has taught numerous undergraduate and graduate courses plus graduated 22 PhD and 10 MS students.

This year’s Craig J. Beasley Award for Social Contribution is awarded to James Clark. This award is given to a person or organization that has made a meritorious achievement that supports the application of geophysics to a humanitarian, public service, or other socially significant cause. Clark is recognized for his sustained humanitarian geophysics work for more than ten years. He developed plans for a low-cost electrical resistivity instrument that can be easily built and deployed in developing countries, and he makes low cost software for processing and interpreting the data freely available. Clark has worked on the ground in Africa for many years training teams of locals how to use the instruments and interpret the data to help find groundwater resources. He has established Water4 Resistivity teams in seven countries (DR Congo, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, and Togo) and has worked with them to document their success rate.

The full list of 2020 SEG Honors and Awards recipients is:

  • Maurice Ewing Medal – Leon Thomsen
  • Craig J. Beasley Award for Social Contribution – James Clark
  • Virgil Kauffman Gold Medal – Carlos Torres-Verdín
  • Reginald Fessenden Award – Felix Herrmann, Charles Mosher, Faqi Liu, Laura Pyrak-Nolte, and Evert Slob
  • Life Membership – Jie Zhang
  • J. Clarence Karcher Award – Fangyu Li, Siddharth Misra, and Xinming Wu
  • Honorary Membership – James Rector
  • Cecil Green Enterprise AwardGary Tubridy (Avalon Sciences Ltd.)
  • Outstanding Educator – Shalivahan Shalivahan and Ilya Tsvankin
  • Distinguished Achievement Award ­– Smart Exploration
  • Special Commendation Award – Marianne Rauch
  • Top Oral Paper Presented at SEG’s 89th Annual Meeting—San Antonio, Texas, “Angle-dependent and angle-independent lease-squares reverse-time migration (LSRTM) - case studies,” by Thomas Kühne, Michael Kiehn, Eric Duveneck, Bruce Strawn, Dung Nguyen, Anu Chandran, Farhad Bazargani, Richard Palmer, Thomas Rayburn, Mandy Wong, and Siyang Yang
  • Top Poster Paper Presented at SEG’s 89th Annual Meeting—San Antonio, Texas, “Controlled-order multiple waveform inversion,” by Yike Liu, Bin He, and Yingcai Zheng
  • Top Student Oral Paper Presented at SEG’s 89th Annual Meeting—San Antonio, Texas, “Waveform inversion by model reduction using spline interpolation,” by Guillaume Barnier, Ettore Biondi, and Robert G. Clapp
  • Top Student Poster Paper Presented at SEG’s 89th Annual Meeting—San Antonio, Texas, “Seismic impedance inversion based on cycle-consistent generative adversarial network,” by Yuqing Wang, Qiang Ge, Wenkai Lu, and Xinfei Yan
  • Best Paper in Geophysics® in 2019, “On the physical principles underlying electromagnetic induction,” by Mark E. Everett and Alan D. Chave.
  • Best Paper in The Leading Edge in 2019, “Salt/sediment proximity to delineate salt boundaries using seismic while drilling in the Gulf of Mexico,” by Jacob Bayer, Bryce Jensen, Yingping Li, Tianrun Chen, and Ken Matson
  • Best Paper in Interpretation in 2019, "Control of Precambrian-to-Paleozoic orogenic trends on along-strike variations in Early Cretaceous continental rifts of the South Atlantic Ocean," by Kyle Reuber and Paul Mann

The list of SEG 2020 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.

About SEG

The Society of Exploration Geophysicists is a not-for-profit organization committed to connecting the world of applied geophysics. With more than 14,000 members in 116 countries, SEG provides educational and technical resources to the global geoscience 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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