Biography Citation for the SEG Outstanding Educator Award 2015
While an educator’s task is to teach, her goal and purpose are for her students to learn. Perhaps even more, it is to instill in those students an excitement about the subject she is teaching and love of further learning as a result of that teaching. Manika Prasad, selected to receive the 2015 SEG Outstanding Educator Award, is many times over a model recipient for this honor.
Not unusual for geophysicists, Manika’s career spans beyond three continents and several professional disciplines in and related to the earth sciences. Starting with a B.Sc. (honors) at the University of Bombay, India, she went on to obtain a M.Sc. and then Ph.D. (summa cum laude) at Christian-Albrechts Universität in Kiel, Germany. Her study disciplines migrated from geology (chemistry minor) to geology (minors in geophysics and marine geology) and then to geophysics (minors in marine geology and sedimentology). This brought her to an academic career that included appointments at the University of Hawaii, Stanford University, and Colorado School of Mines. This path empowered her to achieve a distinguishing perspective for multidisciplinary studies and applications as well as a very special skill to steer multiculturalism toward effective teamwork.
Manika is an educator in the most comprehensive sense of the word, from the nanoscale of the micropores in the cores she likes to study (and abuse!) to the basin scale, where her research findings are applied. A prolific and significant contributor in experimental and theoretical research into the physics of rocks and their contained fluids, she has taught courses at the undergraduate and graduate levels and to the exploration-geoscience community at large.
Remarkably, she was the 2014 SEG Continuing Education Lecturer and 2012 SEG/AAPG Fall Distinguished Lecturer, in a rare example of a woman geophysicist in a leading technical role, of which we need so many more, to inspire the young generations. One of her students told us, “Manika is known not only for excellence in research and education, but for her high moral values and humility as a person…. Manika has been much more than a teacher and an adviser. She has been a role model for many students at CSM.”
Beyond teaching in the classroom, as a keynote speaker or invited panelist in international technical events, and through an extensive number of publications, Manika’s skills as an educator include advising some 31 graduate and undergraduate students in geophysics, petroleum engineering, and chemical engineering.
In addition, she serves SEG as Associate Editor of Geophysics and as a member of several committees. She also is the technical editor of the Reservoir Evaluation and Engineering Formation Evaluation for SPE. Twice, Manika was named Outstanding Mentor to Native American Students at Stanford. This year, she was nominated for the SPE Innovative Teaching Award the Petroleum Engineering department at CSM.
But if we want to better picture why Manika deserves this year’s SEG Outstanding Educator Award, we have to listen to her students:
- “My class with Professor Manika was truly one of the most useful and enjoyable classes I took, in no small part because she clearly put the time and effort into each of the students in the class. I found in her a mentor in every sense of the word!”
- “After Mike Batzle died, Manika took care of Mike’s research group and consortium, becoming the adviser of four additional Ph.D. students and three master’s students. Without her, we all would have been left without guidance.”
- “Dr. Prasad’s research interests transcend the fields of geophysics, geology, and petroleum engineering and allow her to challenge her research students into thinking outside the box, to come up with an integrated subsurface solution to the questions they intended to answer. I am very glad to work with her.”
Here is an educator who does it all with a gracious manner, replete with warmth and, invariably, fine humor. Manika Prasad virtually defines what it means to be an outstanding educator and an outstanding person.