SEG Life Membership 2014
Louise Pellerin has held many positions in SEG leadership, including president of the Near Surface Geophysics Section, Second Vice President, associate editor of Geophysics, chair of Youth Education, member of the inaugural Geoscience Without Borders committee, member of the ad hoc committee on new governance, chair of the Bylaws Committee, Annual Meeting technical vice chair, chair of the Distinguish Lecture committee, and secretary of the Bay Area Geophysical Society. She has actively encouraged collaboration between SEG and other societies, including establishing a memorandum of understanding between SEG and the Association for Women Geoscientists and between SEG and the American Geophysical Union (AGU). She was also cochair of the initial AGU-SEG collaboration committee.
Biography Citation for SEG Life Membership 2014
Contributed by Eve Sprunt
Louise “Lu” Pellerin is an expert in electromagnetic (EM) exploration. All her degrees are in geophysics — a B.S. in 1978 from the University of California–Berkeley and an M.S. in 1988 and Ph.D. in 1992 from the University of Utah.
Lu describes herself as “having a career that is several standard deviations from the mean” because she is a nonseismic woman who is not in oil and gas. She likes to remind colleagues in the petroleum industry, “Water is our most valuable and precious resource, more valuable than oil and gas.” Her career working in minerals, near surface, hydrologic, geotechnical, and crustal-scale investigations has spanned the gap between research and the practical application of EM methods.
The first eight years of Lu’s career were in mineral exploration. She says, “Being an EM geophysicist was mainstream, but women were not.” Next, she became involved in near-surface geophysics as a staff scientist at the U. S. Geological Survey and at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. As a visiting professor at the University of Aarhus, Denmark, Lu focused on hydrogeophysics. She returned to industry, joining an all-woman business, Green Engineering, where she applied EM methods to geothermal and mineral exploration, geotechnical and groundwater investigations, and tectonic studies. In 2013, she founded Green Geophysics, Inc., retaining Green in the new company’s name as a tribute to Ellen Green, founder of Green Engineering.
She has worked on all seven continents on a wide range of projects, including the structural integrity of levees in the San Joaquin Delta, California, mineral-deposit exploration in Alaska, and tectonic structure at the South Pole.
Teaching and mentoring have been an important part of Lu’s life. For more than 20 years, she has taught EM geophysics for the Summer of Applied Geophysical Experience (SAGE). Although her own work in graduate school was theoretical, she thinks it is essential for geophysicists to have an understanding of the complexities of data acquisition.
More and more women are earning degrees in geophysics, but the field is losing talented, highly educated women at midcareer. The SEG Women’s Network Committee (WNC) wants to highlight the value of diversity to motivate industry, government, and academia to better appreciate people with unusual careers. Studies have shown that nonhomogeneous groups that include women and people with diverse backgrounds create better solutions. The WNC considers Lu one of the best female role models in geophysics.
Lu says she never intended to be a role model for women but has often found herself in that situation. She wants young scientists to realize that they can have rewarding and successful careers, whether on a traditional path in energy exploration or on a path less taken.
Why does Lu support SEG? “Not because it is a bunch of good old boys, but because SEG has allowed other voices to be heard,” she says. “SEG is an important vehicle for the growth of students and young professionals, the exchange of technology and information, and the support of our profession.”
- SEG Honors and Awards Ceremony in Official Program and Exhibitors Directory, SEG Denver 26-31 October 2014 p.36-49.