Gérard Herman (1954–2006) was a Dutch geophysicist who will be remembered for his innovative research, his service to SEG, and, to those who knew him, for his endearing, sociable, and multidimensional personality.
On the evening of Wednesday, 23 August 2006, we learned that our long-time friend and colleague, Gérard Herman, unexpectedly passed away due to heart failure in the St. Borromeus Hospital in Bandung, Indonesia. Gérard left us two weeks earlier to teach a course on mathematical physics at Bandung University.
Gérard started working for Shell in 1982 after being awarded his PhD (cum laude) by the Technical University Delft. Initially he focused on one-dimensional inversion methods, but soon he became interested in shallow subsurface wave propagation, a topic that became one of the leading themes in his scientific work and in which he developed world-class expertise. He made many innovative contributions in the field of imaging shallow, small-scale, heterogeneities using guided waves and the deterministic removal of waves scattered near the surface.
In 1989 he returned to Delft to become associate professor of Applied Mathematics. Between 1989 and 2001 he was responsible for setting up and leading a mathematical geophysics group in Delft at the faculty of Applied Mathematics. Continuing in the area of wave-scattering, he supervised six PhD students and numerous MS students.
During this period he also served as an assistant editor of GEOPHYSICS. He was elected SEG Editor in 2001. During his two-year term, he was responsible for the successful introduction of the online versions of both the journal and the peer review system. His tenure on the SEG executive committee was so highly regarded that he was nominated for president-elect in 2006. He also served SEG and EAGE as a member of their respective research committees. Gérard excelled at bringing people together and building bridges between diverse individuals and organizations.
In 2001 he came back to Shell, where he divided his time between active research in the HiFi seismic team and the reaffirmation of a research culture within that company. He became head of the Research Skillpool within Shell and manifested himself as an ardent supporter of truly innovative R&D. For us Gérard was a valued colleague with a most congenial personality. Gérard was dedicated to his family and successfully achieved a balance between professional and personal interests. He enjoyed a broad range of activities, from making adventurous journeys, to playing in a band and riding a motorcycle for his daily commute. He frequently dropped in for a chat about geophysics, traveling, his children, and friendly small talk. We are fortunate to have known Gérard and will always remember his endearing, sociable, and multidimensional personality.
Gérard loved to travel, to meet people and to make new contacts all over the world, a passion in which he indulged during his full career. He had been looking forward to his trip to Indonesia for many months. Two days before he died, he fulfilled a long time wish, namely to climb the Borobudur at sunrise. In one of his last e-mail messages, he described the joy of seeing the sun rise from behind the smoking Merapi volcano from the top of the Borobudur. He seemed perfectly happy.
We were accustomed to Gérard being away regularly for business and scientific trips. It will be very hard to adjust to the idea that he will not return.
On behalf of all his colleagues in geophysical R&D at Shell, Fons ten Krode and Barbara Cox.
- ten Kroode, F. and Cox, B. (2006). ”Memorial.” The Leading Edge, 25(11), 1432–1432.
- Carcione, J., G. Herman, and F. ten Kroode (2002) Seismic modeling, GEOPHYSICS 67(4):1304.