Carlos Alberto Dias was honored with a Special Commendation in 1999 for his exceptional professional leadership in establishing graduate geoscience programs at several Brazilian universities as partnerships between the universities and Petrobras. These programs have been instrumental in providing Brazilian students with excellent education in petroleum exploration geophysics and related disciplines, in contributing significant new research to the science of geophysics, and in furnishing the skilled professional geoscientists that have helped to make Petrobras a very successful company.
Biography Citation for the SEG Special Commendation
Contributed by Peter Hubral
Even today we maintain the myth that Brazilian natives assisted the Portuguese in the occupation of their land and passively suffered the effects of their colonisation.” These provocative words (Buarque de Holanda, 1976) are the opening of the article “The native and the invader,” that the winner of this prestigious SEG award, Carlos A. Dias, a proud Brazilian native from Amazonia with a doctorate in engineering science/geophysics from the University of California at Berkeley, authored about a decade ago. In his article Carlos reflects the injustices done to his courageous people.
All his life Carlos fought to improve the conditions for the native Brazilians. It is therefore most gratifying to me that here a man is honored, who has excelled in serving the advancement of humanity in more than one way. However, he is not only a defender of human rights. This charismatic Brazilian is most of all an eminent geophysicist with a broad scientific background and with a specialization in electromagnetics. His overall academic achievements have already been widely recognized at various occasions, for example, with two honorary doctorates and applications of his scientific concepts in Brazil and abroad.
I am glad that Dolores Proubasta has recently put Professor Dias the scientist, inventor, humanist, academic, educator, visionary, and “empire builder” into focus (TLE, July 1999). I can therefore give here a more personal insight into Carlos the human being.
I first met him in 1983 when he was literally a “headhunter,” tracking down geophysicists around the globe to join his famous PPPG project in Salvador-Bahia. He captured me as one of his first “quarry.” Having subjected to his spell it didn’t take long before I realized that this was to become one of the most interesting and enjoyable “captivities” that I could ever find myself in. Confronted with Carlos I realized that I unfortunately no longer possessed those simple virtues that the Roman historian Tacitus (98 CE) praised in the Germanic tribes when he compared them with the decadence of the cultured Romans. My concept of the world at our first contact was in fact “culturally so much perverted” that I honestly assumed that the world was describable by a complex system of differential equations. I expected that God had set the initial conditions and that it was my duty to find some of the solutions for the benefit of mankind. The pragmatic and down-to-earth Carlos helped me to put my head back closer to the bosom of Mother Nature. He made me understand that our world is “not a geophysical problem to be solved” but an exciting reality to be experienced.
Thanks to Carlos’ exceptional “hunting instinct” he spotted and hired for his projects various outstanding geophysicists. While they were all free to teach and do their research, Carlos constantly had to blaze his trail through the jungle of bureaucracy and struggle against various adversaries, who refused to support the realization of his dreams.
Well, Carlos, you have now shown more than once that you were indeed right about many things. You have proven that you are an impressive representative of a people, whom, in the words of the Chinese sage Confucius (560 BCE), “one can break but not bend.” You opened my eyes to recognize the beauties to the left and right along the thrilling trail through my life as a geophysicist. Without you I would have never become hooked on those many fascinating facets of the exciting and beautiful “Brazilian melting pot.” Without you I would have never got in contact with so many excellent Brazilian geophysicists, who now join me in congratulating you. Parabens pra você e um grande abraço de um amigo seu.