Mike Graul

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Mike Graul
Graul Mike webportrait.jpg
Membership Honorary Member

Mike Graul has served in various fields of geophysical activity for more than thirty-five years. Upon graduation from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, he joined the Chevron Corporation, where he worked in acquisition, processing, interpretation, research, and project management for twenty-three years. In 1980, he formed a consulting and training firm, Exploration Education Consultants, and, in 1986, he co-founded TexSeis, Inc., a seismic data processing company. Mike has taught courses on virtually every aspect of geophysics to a wide variety of students in more than 20 countries and has served as a lecturer for SEG, AAPG, and the University of Houston. He is an Honorary and Life Member of both the SEG and the Geophysical Society of Houston. He has served as President of the GSH as well as 1st vice-president and Chair of the Council for the SEG.

Mike was awarded SEG Honorary Membership for his distinguished contribution to the profession of exploration geophysics though his service to the Society. This service has taken the form of deep involvement in continuing education for geophysicists. Mike excels in clear, insightful presentation and intuitive analogs. His courses in deconvolution, AVO, and static corrections, all developed for SEG, are still presented regularly through the continuing education program.

SEG Life Membership Award 2019

As SEG has moved to become a fully global professional society, governance changes have been implemented to facilitate that end. Bylaws changes implemented in 2012 established the Chair of the Council on the SEG Board of Directors to give a voice to Sections, Associated Societies, and Technical Sections globally. Mike Graul stepped forward and, by Council vote, became the first person to hold the difficult position of Chair of the Council. His efforts to more closely represent the Sections, Associated Societies, and Technical Sections to the SEG Board of Directors set the precedent for communication and representation practices to enhance communication and involvement of members worldwide. Graul’s efforts have provided and continue to provide access to dialogue with subject matter experts and education that would be inaccessible any other way in many parts of the world. Graul’s lead in this educational forum should be an example for future endeavors in the communication of SEG’s knowledge base.

Biography Citation for the Life Membership Award

by Bob A. Hardage

I will forever be indebted to Mike Graul for his efforts in making the SEG Council an effective part of SEG governance. Before 2010, SEG had two governing bodies: a seven-member Executive Committee, elected by our global membership, and a Council, composed of representatives from each SEG Section, Associated Society, and Technical Section who were elected by only the members of the Section or Associated Society they represented. The Council’s purpose was to serve as the collective voice of these SEG membership groups to challenge, or approve, Executive Committee actions.

This governance model was not effective because Executive Committee members served short terms, making it difficult to execute multiyear projects, and only half of the Council met briefly only once a year. A new SEG governance model had to be implemented. That implementation began in 2010–2011, when I was SEG president-elect and became a reality in 2011–2012 when I was SEG president. Our seven-member Executive Committee became a 15-member Board of Directors who served long, overlapping terms. One of these Board members was a new position called the Council Chair. This Chair was elected by Council membership, not by global membership, and served on the SEG Board of Directors for three years.

Thankfully, the first-ever Council Chair was Mike. He set the standard for what a Council Chair had to be. When Mike took the reins, there were no accurate lists of members of any SEG Section nor reliable contact options for Council members. Mike’s challenge was to establish a reliable intra-Council communication system so he could have continuous, year-round interaction with all Council members. Mike also established a steering committee of forward-thinking Council members to assist in activating Council members. The Council soon transformed from an ineffective body to a vibrant part of SEG governance.

Mike realized that the global communication system he established for Council governance purposes also could be an avenue to provide education to Sections where SEG lecturers never visited. Mike, together with Fred Hilterman, demonstrated the practicality of a Council-driven, global educational program by doing a pro bono course to test the concept. The interest developed by this inaugural effort already has resulted in 26 additional global webinars by numerous SEG lecturers. All webinars have been overseen and managed by Mike and other members of the Geophysical Society of Houston (GSH). Mike’s work that made intra-Council communication an important part of SEG governance now provides education to people in any global location where there is Internet access. For example, when I taught my first webinar, one attendee was located in Mongolia.

Mike has always been involved in educating SEG members, as evidenced by the fact that he has taught 785 schools in 25 countries. His volunteer educational tutorials in the GSH Journal have been particularly popular. He has created 85 tutorials, and 63 of them have been published in book form by GSH as Tutorial Nuggets — The Book, Volumes 1 and 2. In fact, the GSH Journal itself exists because of volunteer work done by Mike and Lee Lawyer to establish a journal tailored to Houston members.

Because I was so deeply involved in the process of getting SEG’s new governance model established, I am amazed how Mike did what I had no idea how to do — transform SEG’s Council from an inefficient body to an invaluable part of SEG’s governance. The magnitude and quality of Mike’s volunteer work during his three years of being the first-ever Council Chair sets a standard for other Life Member candidates to imitate in their volunteer work.

Biography Citation for SEG Honorary Membership

I’m sure many readers of this citation expect an accompanying cartoon that underscores some aspect of Mike Graul’s life. After all, he is famous for seeding his various courses with clever cartoons that demonstrate theoretical concepts. As this honor recognizes, it’s a challenge not to be attentive in Mike’s courses and, thus, it’s a challenge not to learn from his lectures.From the beginning of his career more than 40 years ago, Mike has been developing signal-processing techniques and unifying them with field-acquisition techniques via such diverse concepts as complex-trace analysis,

Radon filtering, and array properties. Based on his initial research, Mike developed and presented a wide variety of courses to more than 70 different oil and mineral companies in more than 20 countries. With more than 5000 attendees at his courses, Mike’s significance to the geosciences should be the envy of any retiring professor. His courses have been offered by SEG, AAPG, SPE, University of Houston, Colorado School of Mines, Stanford, University of Missouri (Rolla), Imperial College, and other private institutions. His co-instructors have included some of the most respected figures in our industry—Jon Claerbout, Tury Taner, Sven Treitel, Larry Lines, and Gerry Gardner. I’ve been lucky to be an educational sidekick with him for some 23 years, and I continue to marvel at his innovative presentations.

His course notes, which are continuously updated, are a valued asset for both practical and theoretical geophysicists. Numerous geophysical rules-of-thumb and simplified derivations that abound in the literature can be traced to Mike’s lucid notes. Numerous attorneys and judges associated with court cases related to geophysics have enjoyed and benefited from his expertise and notes. In fact, I remember a judge who claimed to have taught his wife geophysics from Mike’s notes. Mike received his BS (geophysics) from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 1957 and then began his career at Chevron as a field-crew seismologist in the swamps of Louisiana. During the next 23 years, he served in a variety of assignments in acquisition, processing, interpretation, management, and research. When 3D seismic became the hot topic in the early 1970s, I investigated some early patents that he had co-authored for Chevron on 3D crossline imaging. These were leading-edge concepts, similar to the current geophysical topics that are always present in his notes. In the late 1970s, Mike joined the University of Houston Geoscience Department as an adjunct professor teaching graduate courses.

In 1980, he left Chevron and founded Exploration Education Consultants. His schedule immediately became extremely busy as he offered a variety of geophysical courses worldwide. In addition, he co-founded and is currently vice president of Research and Development for the seismic processing company, TexSeis. TexSeis is an “outsource” research center for the many companies that no longer have R&D organizations. It also provides Mike an avenue to expand and update material for his numerous geophysical courses.

One of the early signs that Mike was going to excel in teaching can be found in his involvement as a coach of youth baseball and football. When his children were in high school, Mike used his booming voice to announce their Friday night football games. Sports are still an integral part of Mike’s life especially when involving Texas A&M or Notre Dame. In fact, stop by space F13 when you’re attending the next football tailgate party at A&M … it’s sponsored by the Graul clan.

All who have benefited from his lectures and more importantly from his friendship are thankful to Mike, one of our most respected educators, and wish him the best as he receives SEG Honorary Membership.

Special Commendation 1999

SEG is honoring Mike Graul with a Special Commendation for his meritorious service as an SEG and industry educator. For the last three decades, Mike has taught basic-toadvanced courses covering linear systems analysis, deconvolution, statics, migration, data processing, field-acquisition design, AVO, etc. With dedication, Mike has transformed many of our complicated algorithms into a series of simple sketches. Geoscientists, worldwide, have benefited from these comprehensive and lucid notes.

Biography Citation for the SEG Special Commendation

Contributed by Fred Hilterman

Education . . . what better vehicle is there to advance SEG’s primary objective: “to promote the science of geophysics?” In this regard, as stated by the Honors and Awards Committee, SEG proudly recognizes Mike Graul as an educator and mentor to fellow geoscientists. During the past 20 years, I’ve been a coinstructor with Mike and a participant to his lucid presentations. Those who have attended his courses, and this numbers over 5000 geoscientists, warmly remember Mike’s efforts to make them both educational and fun. No matter if it’s an entry-level course on basic geophysics or an advanced course on deconvolution, it’s a challenge not to be attentive and, thus, it’s a challenge not to learn.

His continuously updated course notes are valued by both practical and theoretical geophysicists. They are masterfully organized knowledge of geophysics that are applicable for self-tutoring. I have visited oil companies and universities and heard quotes from Mike’s notes. These quotes are regarded as the geophysical standard. Throughout his notes, numerous cartoons underscore important principles. But his notes are only half the story.

Mike has developed a unique vernacular that is sprinkled throughout his lectures. As an example, by defining Poisson’s ratio of a rock in terms of its “fat-ticity” factor, he offers the participant a unique and fun way to remember a basic concept. Even though he stresses geophysics as the observation of facts, he emphasizes that facts are not permanent and it is your responsibility to recognize facts from “false prophets.” He often underscores this point, to amusement of his audiences, with a mock description of “spinalong” acquisition, a hypothetical new tool.

Mike received his bachelor’s (geophysics) from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 1957 and then began his career at Chevron as a field-crew seismologist in the swamps of Louisiana. During the next 23 years, he served in a variety of assignments in acquisition, processing, interpretation, management, and research. When 3-D seismic became the hot topic in the early 1970s, I remember investigating some early patents that he had coauthored for Chevron on 3-D cross-line imaging. These were leading-edge concepts, similar to the current geophysical topics in his notes. In addition, Mike’s work over 20 years ago on complex trace analysis, Radon filtering, and array analysis is still used.

In the late 1970s, Mike joined the University of Houston Geoscience Department as an adjunct professor. In 1980, he left Chevron and founded Exploration Education Consultants. His schedule was immediately overflowing with offers to teach a variety of geophysical courses worldwide to major oil and mineral companies. This full schedule continues today. In addition, Mike has lectured and presented courses at Colorado School of Mines, Stanford, University of Missouri (Rolla), and Imperial College. Besides being a long-time favorite for the SEG’s Continuing Education Department, he lectures for SPE, AAPG, and numerous private vendors.

In 1986, Mike cofounded TexSeis to implement high-resolution techniques and AVO applications developed in conjunction with his consulting services. Over the years, TexSeis has become a full-service processing center that also acts as an “outsource” research center for companies that no longer have R&D organizations. It provides Mike the avenue to expand and update material for his geophysical courses.

For two decades, I have marveled at the energy level that Mike has maintained. It’s common for Mike to enjoy a leisurely dinner and technical discussion with his course participants and then to work to 3 a.m. preparing notes for an upcoming course or on a research project. All who have benefited from his lectures and, more importantly, friendship are thankful to Mike and congratulate him on this award.

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