Kay Wyatt

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Kay Wyatt
Kay Dautenhahn Wyatt headshot.png
Membership Life Member

SEG is honoring Kay Wyatt with Life Membership for exceptional service in several areas, most notably education. Through Kay’s untiring commitment and leadership, numerous SEG educational programs have been defined and implemented.

Biography Citation for SEG Life Membership

Contributed by Gary Hoover and Paul Valasek

Those who have worked with or come in contact with Kay unanimously come away with the impression that they have been in the presence of one of the most enthusiastic and innovative members of our Society. Kay’s tremendous spirit and energy, coupled with her constant striving for success, have led to many contributions in education and technology.

Kay began her geophysics career in 1977 with Phillips Petroleum Company, following bachelor’s and master’s degrees in electrical engineering from the University of Tulsa and Oklahoma State University, respectively. Kay’s initial focus was VSP technology. She is coholder of several patents involving the processing of VSP data and coinventor of the “VSPCDP Stack.” Kay’s passion for challenges led to the difficult problem of how to efficiently construct complex 3-D geologic models. She and her husband Steve developed an accurate and cost-effective model representation using tetrahedra. Their innovative approach featured a healthy serving of sliced raw potatoes connected by toothpicks to help visualize the elaborate networks of 3-D tetrahedra! Shortly thereafter, perhaps spurred by the work on potato-aided visualization, Kay brought 3-D visualization out of the kitchen and into the computer-aided era. Led by Kay’s vision, Phillips’ 3-D ModelBuilder pioneered the way for real-time 3-D visualization of complex models.

Kay was also active in 3-D seismic imaging technology. Akey contribution was 3-D DMO in 1989. This was followed by 3-D poststack depth migration in 1990. In 1993, Kay led a team that tackled the grand challenge, 3-D prestack depth migration. As the initial, breathtaking images churned out of the computer, Kay was heard proclaiming a favorite statement, “Awesome ... science in action!” Kay and her team were formally recognized for this achievement in 1994 when they received the Phillips Petroleum Technology Innovation Excellence Award. With several powerful imaging algorithms in the toolkit,

Kay’s attention turned toward 3-D velocity model estimation. In 1994, Kay implemented an innovative approach, horizon-based prestack depth migration, which formed the core of a rapid and accurate tool for iterative velocity model building.

Today, Kay is a research leader and enthusiastically engaged in bringing more advanced seismic imaging technologies to the forefront in areas such as 3-D wavefield migration and converted-wave imaging.

Kay’s contributions to SEG and GST have been just as outstanding. She joined both in 1977. She served as GST secretary in 1988 and as president in 1991 where she instituted the education chairman position that continues to spread the word of geophysics to science teachers and students. As technical chairman of SEG’s Midwest Regional Meeting, she invited science teachers to the sessions, an innovation adopted by SEG’s Annual International Meeting.

Kay served as First Vice-President on SEG’s 1996-97 Executive Committee where she played a key role in creation of the Distinguished Instructor Short Course and vigorously supported increased aid for the students. Because she is so passionate about assisting students, some refer to her as the “patron saint” for geoscience students. Kay currently chairs SEG’s Student Sections/Academic Liaison Committee and is a member of the Research Committee. Kay served on the Ad Hoc Museum Committee that made significant contributions to the enhancement of the museum, including the SEG Virtual Museum on the Web.

Kay’s SEG activities truly set a standard for “volunteer” and her dedication to the advance of geophysical technology has been outstanding. We congratulate her on receiving Life Membership.