Society of Exploration Geophysicists announces 2024 Honors and Awards recipients

10 July 2024 | Houston, Texas, USA

The Society of Exploration Geophysicists (SEG) has announced its 2024 Honors and Awards recipients. Mark D. Zoback is the recipient of SEG’s highest honor, the 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.

Zoback, Stanford professor emeritus, has made a set of remarkable contributions to the geosciences, our profession, society at large, and the education of students and our community. His online course, “Reservoir Geomechanics,” has been completed by more than 12,000 people around the world. He served on the U.S. Secretary of Energy’s subcommittee on shale gas development and on the National Academy of Engineering committee that investigated the Deepwater Horizon accident. He has authored two books (Reservoir Geomechanics, 2010, and Unconventional Reservoir Geomechanics, 2019) and founded or codirected three Stanford centers (Stanford Center for Induced and Triggered Seismicity 2015–2021, Stanford Natural Gas Initiative 2018–2021, and Stanford Center for Carbon Storage). He is an elected member of the National Academy of Engineering and a fellow of the American Geophysical Union, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the European Union of Geosciences. He was the SEG Honorary Lecturer for North America (2021) and won the award for Best Paper in The Leading Edge (2018).

Young Seo Kim 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. Kim is recognized for his recent achievements in the development of traveltime-based full-waveform inversion. This innovation has provided reliable results, particularly in onshore complex shallow geologic structures. Kim’s close collaboration with Saudi Aramco’s exploration department has made a great impact in obtaining high-resolution velocity models and subsequent images in arid environments, thereby identifying near-surface hazards and mitigating drilling risks. Kim has showcased his work at various international conferences and workshops and authored or coauthored many papers in numerous peer-reviewed geophysical journals. His work has resulted in eight granted patents. 

The Reginald Fessenden Award recipients are Riaz Alai, David Alumbaugh, Yalin Li, Nicolae Moldoveanu, and Partha Routh. 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.

Alai is recognized for his contributions as an inventor who has made a significant impact on the energy industry. He pioneered the simultaneous adaptive least-squares matching and subtraction concept that has become an industry standard. Throughout the years, he developed efficient and unique elastic processing solutions for imaging reservoirs in complex geologic environments. Alai has been an active participant in international geophysical conferences and an avid publisher of articles. His work has been referenced in several patents on varied topics. In addition, he has demonstrated an outstanding performance in managing well over 100 international exploration projects and contributed to significant exploration and development successes. Alai was the recipient of Anadarko’s 2006 APC Innovator Award and has received several conference best paper awards. 

Alumbaugh is recognized with the Reginald Fessenden Award for his contributions to the field of electromagnetics. He has proven his leadership in electromagnetic technology development and application in fossil energy reservoir delineation, geothermal exploration, and carbon storage. He has also done pioneering work in marine controlled source electromagnetic imaging of the earth’s subsurface as well as multiphysics data integration and machine learning. He has worked at a number of positions in small companies, large private companies, national labs, and as a university professor. His work is well documented as the author or coauthor of more than 60 peer-reviewed publications, seven book chapters, and 14 U.S. patents. 

Li is recognized with the Reginald Fessenden Award because of his outstanding technological contribution to the geophysical industry with his remarkable innovation in land with complex near-surface conditions around the world. His impressive record of 60 published papers in various international journals, 51 patents, and 20 software copyrights had a significant impact on the geophysical industry, in addition to which he has been directly responsible for 12 oil reservoir discoveries and 16 gas reservoir discoveries.

Moldoveanu is recognized with the Reginald Fessenden Award based on his numerous and exceptional contributions to seismic acquisition technology and analysis (with some 37 patents). He has also provided service to the SEG SEAM Board of Directors, and he was SEG’s Honorary Lecturer for North America in 2013. He has led many acquisition technologies to implementation and success such as coil shooting, ocean-bottom nodes, wide-azimuth, and vertical arrays. He has made extremely strong technical contributions, with testimonials such as “He certainly pushed the boundaries of both acquisition and processing for the entire industry.”

Routh is recognized with the SEG Reginald Fessenden Award because of his impressive technology contribution in the geophysical industry, advancing the development of elastic full-waveform inversion (eFWI) and FWI for time lapse. This has been illustrated in 14 patents and with award-winning papers in SEG journals and conferences. Routh has also been very active and involved with SEG committees regarding FWI and as an ambassador for SEG in this field. 

SEG awards Life Membership this year to Nancy House and Ali Tura for their exceptional service to the Society.

House has selflessly contributed significant amounts of her time, energy, talents, and insights in stalwart service to SEG. She rendered exceptionally meritorious service during leadership roles as SEG president, secretary/treasurer, chair of the Finance Committee, and chair of the Women’s Network Committee. House’s volunteer engagements with SEG began in 1994 with her service on the Global Affairs Committee (then known as the International Affairs Committee). It was there that she got a foothold with our Society and started making insightful and meaningful impacts both on the current SEG and more so the SEG of the future. Her visionary leadership began in 2011 with election to the Executive Committee as secretary-treasurer, followed by service as chair of the Finance Committee. House was credited with financial stewardship that was foundational to much-needed changes to the Society’s financial system and operational accountability. Many of her contributions were at the heart of changes to SEG’s business model and current operations. Her service to the Society also included Annual Meeting general chair (2010) and director on the SEAM Board. 

For more than two and a half decades, Ali Tura has consistently and wholeheartedly devoted time and energy to support and promote the Society of Exploration Geophysicists. His service began in 1998 when he assumed the responsibilities and challenges of an associate editor of Geophysics. From that point, he served stints as chair of the Global Affairs and Research committees, vice president of the SEG Executive Committee, vice chair of the OTC Technical Program Committee, chair of the TLE Editorial Board, and director for both the SEG Global Inc. and SEAM boards. Tura’s contributions to the Society as an ambassador of SEG during his 2021 Distinguished Lecture tour were consistently touted by attendees as exceptional. Of particular significance has been his deep commitment to supporting the Society through workshops. During his tenure as chair of the Global Affairs Committee, he was credited as the first to recognize the essential nature of a global footprint if SEG was to be a sustainable organization into the current century. He consistently and willingly provided meritorious service anytime SEG came calling. 

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. This year’s recipients are Ariel Lellouch, Eileen Martin, Chao Song, Jidong Yang, and Lele Zhang.

Lellouch has established himself as a leading expert in the use of distributed acoustic sensing (DAS) in the borehole environment. Lellouch authored the first paper with observations of deep borehole-guided waves on DAS data. He led a research effort that detected guided waves generated by perforation shots and microseismicity in unconventional reservoirs during hydraulic fracturing. From there he developed workflows to use seismic phases from guided waves for fracture imaging and determining elastic properties of reservoirs. Lellouch’s accomplishments have been recognized by his peers, as evidenced by citation and h-index values commensurate with many late-career scholars. His groundbreaking research discoveries garnered acclaim with Honorable Mention, Best Paper in The Leading Edge in 2021, Honorable Mention, Best Paper at the 2019 SEG Annual Meeting, and his selection as the SEG Middle East and Africa Honorary Lecturer for 2022. With his publishing successes and history of pioneering discoveries, it is no surprise Lellouch was selected to serve as an associate editor of Geophysics and guest editor for The Leading Edge

Martin has made unique, significant, and innovative contributions in the use of fiber systems for recording seismic energy across a broad range of applications. Her work on surface wave interferometry is considered pioneering and a standard reference for industrial applications. Martin is credited with being the first to use existing telecommunication infrastructure to successfully gather active, passive, and ambient noise data using distributed acoustic sensing (DAS). Her Love wave interferometry results are touted as the first ever obtained from DAS data. Martin’s use of DAS for permafrost thaw monitoring with application to public safety required the development of new computational and field techniques. Her use of DAS for monitoring mine safety, glacial movement, geothermal systems, and ground stability around energy pipelines demonstrates the depth and breadth of her creative interests in understanding dynamic systems. At this early stage of her career, Martin’s published oeuvre has citation rates beyond most late-career researchers and indicative of the significance her peers place on her scientific discoveries. 

Song has been credited with pioneering advancements in seismic modeling and inversion technologies. His contributions have had a particular emphasis on physics-informed neural networks. His work bridges the gap between traditional geophysical methods and cutting-edge machine learning techniques. Some of Song’s early contributions to full-waveform inversion (FWI), deep learning, and improvements in objective functions resulted in an Award of Merit for Best Student Poster Paper at the 2019 SEG Annual Meeting. His command of the science and his propensity for innovation is nowhere more evident than the 29 journal articles to his credit since 2015, including 16 as senior author. The significance of these contributions is evident in citation rates and h-index values commendable for late-career geophysical researchers. Song is most noted for his groundbreaking work with neural networks and inversion. Scholars in his field have suggested his approach to efficient wavefield inversion has significantly enhanced the accuracy of FWI. His expertise has been recognized with appointments as associate editors for Geophysical Prospecting and the Journal of Geophysics and Engineering

Yang derived a novel, cutting-edge viscoacoustic wave equation tailored for seismic modeling, migration, and inversion with the ability to capture viscoacoustic effects (amplitude loss and phase dispersion) during wave propagation. His equation provides enhanced flexibility and precision in complex geologic structures and paves the way for more scalable and efficient viscoacoustic reverse time migration and full-waveform inversion. Additionally, Yang has significantly enhanced the robustness of Gaussian beam migration in complex environments. One of Yang’s major innovative accomplishments was the development of algorithms to effectively separate compressional and shear wave modes in vertical transversely isotropic media. His many pioneering technical contributions have resulted in more than 34 peer-reviewed journal articles, of which he is senior author on 20. Yang’s citation rate and h-index exemplify the impact of his work, even at this early stage of his career. His service as a guest editor and on editorial boards for five different societies and journals is a direct result of the respect he has garnered from the scientific community. 

Zhang developed a revolutionary internal multiple elimination method that has been verified on synthetic and real data sets and resulted in an Honorable Mention for Best Paper in Geophysics in 2019. He conceived and derived an unsupervised method of multiple suppression that simultaneously eliminates free-surface and internal multiples without requiring adaptive subtraction. Zhang’s work on these original methods was showcased in the Bright Spots department in The Leading Edge in 2021 and 2022. He has consistently moved ideas from concept to peer acceptance, resulting in 24 peer-refereed journal articles, 13 of which list him as senior author. Many of Zhang’s groundbreaking innovations are a result of curiosity-driven research, targeting major obstacles encountered by his peer community, which ultimately resulted in a network of researchers/cohort addressing the most challenging problems in multiple suppression and full-wavefield migration. His connections and respect within his research community has made him an extremely successful associate editor of Geophysics and the Journal of Seismic Exploration

Huyen Bui and Sandeep Chandola are recipients of the Special Commendation Award, which recognizes deserving persons for meritorious service to the public, the scientific community, or to the profession.

Bui, a geoscience professional who was formerly the geology and interpretation manager at WesternGeco (Schlumberger) and is now a senior geophysicist at Shell, has provided many years of dedicated service to SEG and the profession. In 2012, while serving as both vice chair of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG) Geophysical Integration Committee and member of SEG’s IQ Earth Committee, she played a pivotal role as one of the initiators to bring together SEG and AAPG with the establishment of the SEG/AAPG journal Interpretation. She has served on the Interpretation Editorial Board since its commencement. She was cofounder of the Vietnamese Student Association in Japan and chair of the AAPG Geophysical Integration Committee from 2014 to 2022. Additionally, she has been a driving force as the vice chair and chair of the AAPG/OTC subcommittee since 2016. One former SEG Board member indicates, “I wholeheartedly endorse Dr. Huyen Bui for SEG’s Special Commendation Award in recognition of her exceptional contributions to SEG and the geosciences.” Another comment echoes this in saying, “I strongly support the nomination of Dr. Huyen Bui for SEG’s Special Commendation award to recognize her exceptional contributions to SEG and the geosciences because of her unparalleled expertise and unwavering commitment to support geoscientist and to advance the field of geoscience.” 

Chandola is recognized with the Special Commendation Award for his many years of service, dedication to the profession, technical contributions, and advancement of PETRONAS geoscientists. Chandola is currently general manager and chief geophysicist for PETRONAS supervising some 120 geophysicists and having helped develop a large number of young geoscientists in PETRONAS with the introduction of the world-class “Geoscience Capability Development Programme.” He was elected to serve on the SEG Board of Directors as Director at Large (2024-2027), chairs SEG’s Asia Pacific Advisory Committee and has been the SEG Honorary Lecturer (Pacific South). He has more than 70 publications to his name in his 39 years of experience. Chandola has been an International Petroleum Technology Conference board member representing SEG since 2021. He is described as “a transformative leader with almost four decades of proven track record in hydrocarbon exploration and production and deployment of cutting-edge technologies to support hydrocarbon exploration, development, and new energy business.”

The 2024 Cecil Green Enterprise Award goes to Peter Duncan. The Enterprise Award was established to recognize the importance of an individual enterprise to the economic vitality of our industry and shall be conferred from time to time on persons who have demonstrated courage, ingenuity, and achievement while risking their own resources and future in developing a product, service, organization, or activity which is recognized as a distinct and worthy contribution to the industry. Peter Duncan personifies the Cecil Green Enterprise Award. He is the founding president of MicroSeismic Inc., a Houston-based geophysical service company. He put his own resources at risk to start a company, essentially creating a new service segment. Duncan’s leadership put MicroSeismic Inc. in the position to earn significant attention and recognition. It became the go-to company for microseismic monitoring and generated significant returns for investors. This was just one of the multiple times Duncan has stepped out and ahead, starting new enterprises. He has also made contributions to the industry in other ways, not the least of which was his development of the SEG Challenge Bowl, which positions the industry for the future by exciting and inspiring new generations of geophysicists. SEG has already recognized Duncan with multiple awards, and this additional award is just as deserved as the others as we watch him continue to push his enterprise, and the industry, forward. 

This year’s Outstanding Educator Award recipients are Umair Bin Waheed and Camelia Knapp. This award honors individuals for excellence in geophysics education and is awarded to those who merit such recognition, based on their educational qualities and contributions.

Bin Waheed is recognized with the Outstanding Educator Award. Geophysicist Stewart Greenhalgh notes that he has “seldom encountered anyone of Waheed’s caliber” and that “he [Waheed] has undoubtedly sparked a passion for geophysics in countless students.” Waheed received his PhD in 2015 from King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) and is now an associate professor at King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals (KFUPM). He was a Fellow in the Princeton University writing program. For SEG, he has served as Honorary Lecturer in 2023 and as a continuing education instructor. He is the chair of SEG’s Books Editorial Board Chair and a member of the Continuing Education and Research committees. He has been deputy editor of Geophysical Prospecting and associate editor of IEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing. He made nine presentations at IMAGE ’23 and has written some 54 articles and 50 abstracts along with two patents. He received the KFUPM Excellence in Teaching Award in 2023 and, according to the department chair at KFUPM, “has had the highest ranking of the 18 full-time faculty for my three years of evaluating faculty.” He supervises many graduate students and postdoctoral researchers at KFUPM and other international universities, including KAUST, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Brown University. He has created and teaches a writing course and has created a geophysics-related YouTube channel. His influence in shaping the next generation of geophysicists is both profound and far-reaching, marking him as a truly deserving candidate. 

Knapp served as the department head (2018-2023) for the Boone Pickens School of Geology at Oklahoma State University (OSU) and currently serves as the associate dean for research in the College of Arts and Sciences at OSU. She was full professor at the University of South Carolina (USC) from 2003 to 2018. In addition, she served as director of USC’s Earth Sciences and Resources Institute (ESRI) in Columbia, South Carolina. Knapp has provided deep and distinguished service to geophysical education with participation on the SEG Scholarship Committee as well as acting as faculty advisor to the SEG student chapter at USC. She has participated on the SEG Scholarship Committee, the SEG Committee on University and Student Programs, and the CO2 Research Subcommittee. She was the leading force for the recent 100th anniversary of seismic celebration. She received the Undergrad Mentor Award at USC and has received United States Department of Energy grants. Knapp taught environmental geophysics and exploration seismology classes at USC and OSU. She started a bachelor of science degree in geophysics major and minor at OSU. She also started a new bachelor of science degree in environmental geoscience as well as a professional MS in geosciences. She is an exceptional academician who genuinely cares for all her students and staff. For all these contributions, Knapp is recognized with the Outstanding Educator Award. 

In addition to the aforementioned awards, the Society also celebrates authors of the best papers published in 2023 issues of Interpretation, The Leading Edge, and Geophysics. These individuals have made significant and profound contributions to our science, profession, and Society. Best paper nominations are solicited from the membership at large and voted on by the respective editorial boards and presented to the SEG Board for final approval.  

The full list of this year’s award recipients is:

  • Maurice Ewing Award – Mark D. Zoback 
  • Virgil Kauffman Gold Medal – Young Seo Kim 
  • Reginald Fessenden Award – Riaz Alai, David Alumbaugh, Yalin Li, Nicolae Moldoveanu, and Partha Routh
  • Life Membership – Nancy House, Ali Tura 
  • J. Clarence Karcher – Ariel Lellouch, Eileen Martin, Chao Song, Jidong Yang, and Lele Zhang
  • Special Commendation – Huyen Bui and Sandeep Chandola
  • Cecil Green Enterprise Award – Peter Duncan (MicroSeismic) 
  • Outstanding Educator – Umair Bin Waheed and Camelia Knapp 
  • Best Paper in Geophysics in 2023 – “Imaging near-surface S-wave velocity and attenuation models by full-waveform inversion with distributed acoustic sensing-recorded surface waves,” Wenyong Pan, Luping Qu, Kristopher A. Innanen, Jan Dettmer, Marie Macquet, Donald Lawton, and Yanfei Wang
  • Best Paper in The Leading Edge in 2023 – “Seeing through the CO2 plume: Joint inversion-segmentation of the Sleipner 4D seismic data set,” Juan Romero, Nick Luiken, and Matteo Ravasi 
  • Best Paper in Interpretation in 2023 – “A deep learning framework for seismic facies classification,” Harpreet Kaur, Nam Pham, Sergey Fomel, Zhicheng Geng, Luke Decker, Ben Gremillion, Michael Jervis, Ray Abma, and Shuang Gao

The list of SEG 2024 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.