Thomsen and Yilmaz Elected to National Academy of Engineering

The National Academy of Engineering (NAE) announced on 9 February 2022 that 111 new members and 22 international members have been elected, including two geophysicists, Leon Thomsen as a new member, and Oz Yilmaz as an international member. Election to the National Academy of Engineering is among the highest professional distinctions accorded to an engineer or applied scientist.

Thomsen’s induction is “for contributions to seismic anisotropy concepts that produced major advances in subsurface analysis.” Thomsen is well known in the field of geophysics for developing an appropriate approximation of complex anisotropy in the earth, namely, “Thomsen parameters” and “weak anisotropy” in seismic anisotropy in 1980s, which significantly impacted geophysical exploration over the last 40 years. He invented simplified concepts for polar anisotropy and azimuthal anisotropy when he worked at Amoco. He pioneered converted-wave imaging with seismic anisotropy in 1999, which has become the universal standard for analysis of converted waves. He also introduced anisotropic AVO analysis in 2013. In addition, Thomsen has been actively lecturing and teaching in the seismic industry and academia and leading the global efforts of developing new technologies through collaborated programs and academic societies. In 2002, SEG published his Distinguished Instructor Short Course book, Understanding Seismic Anisotropy in Exploration and Exploitation. The book was updated in 2014. Thomsen’s many honors and awards include the highest award from SEG, the Maurice Ewing Medal, in 2020. He served as SEG president for the 2006–2007 term and was the 2017–2018 Chairman of the Board of SEG Advanced Modeling Corporation (SEAM).

Yilmaz’s induction is “for leadership in developing innovative methods for processing seismic reflection data and educating a generation of geophysicists.” Via a number of technical publications and four SEG-published massive and comprehensive texts, Yilmaz has provided the foundation for geophysicists around the world to learn, utilize, and optimize seismic reflection data acquisition and processing. These methods are widely used for oil and gas exploration and near-surface engineering. Yilmaz’s first book, Seismic Data Processing, was published in 1987. This work was greatly expanded in a two-volume set, Seismic Data Analysis, published in 2001. Yilmaz published Engineering Seismology with Applications to Geotechnical Engineering in 2015 and Land Seismic Case Studies for Near-Surface Modeling and Subsurface Imaging in 2021. His publications, along with the numerous courses and lectures he has given around the world (he was an SEG Distinguished Lecturer in 1996 and an SEG Distinguished Instructor in 2015) have had a remarkable impact on a generation of geophysicists around the world. By way of lectures, courses, presentations at professional meetings, publications, and books, Yilmaz has made an enormous impact on the careers of many professionals by disseminating his knowledge and experience in exploration seismology and engineering seismology. Yilmaz has served SEG in numerous roles, including vice president of SEG during 1993–1994. He received the SEG Virgil Kauffman Gold Medal in 1991, and the EAGE Conrad Schlumberger Award in 1992.

Other SEG members of NAE are Amos Nur, Enders Robinson, Jie Zhang, and Mark Zoback.

Individuals in the newly elected class will be formally inducted during the NAE’s annual meeting on 2 October 2022. Read more.