Misac Nabighian

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Misac Nabighian
Misac N. Nabighian headshot.jpg
Latest company University of Arkansas
BSc Geophysics
MSc Geophysics
PhD Geophysics
BSc university University of Arkansas
MSc university University of Tulsa
PhD university Colorado School of Mines

Biography Citation for SEG Honorary Membership

Contributed by Nigel Edwards


Some fifteen years ago at an Annual Meeting of the SEG, I recall meeting a friendly, well-read, enthusiastic, courteous gentleman who was kind enough to spend several hours with me discussing my research. The gentleman, used in the true sense of the word, was Misac Nabighian. My experience is far from unique. Several of my colleagues, contemporaries and a large number of graduate students can recall similar experiences. Misac gave freely of his time and his knowledge, and in doing so stimulated more advanced research in the universities than any other in his field. Although he is officially honored by our Society for his diligence as an Editor and for the excellence of his research into mining electromagnetic theory and methods, he richly deserves his election as an Honorary Member solely for his unselfish cooperation with others.

Misac was born in Bucharest, Rumania. He graduated from the Mining Institute there in 1954 and served a short apprenticeship as a party chief of an exploration crew. His principal interest was in electrical methods and in 1957 he became the assistant to Professor S. S. Stefanescu at the Institute of Oil, Gas and Geology. Stefanescu is one of the leading theoreticians of his generation, and his influence clearly set the tone for Misac's future endeavors. Stefanescu and Nabighian wrote the first theoretical papers on the magnetometric resistivity method. They won the Theoretical Value and Elegance Prize awarded by the Rumanian Academy of Sciences for a paper in which an analytic form for the spiraling magnetic field lines about two inclined long current-carrying wires is derived.

Misac emigrated to the United States and received his doctorate at the Lamont Geological Observatory of Columbia University. He joined Newmont Exploration in 1967 and has been with them since that time, working first in Danbury and then in Tucson. Dr. Arthur Brant describes how he hired Misac as a theoretician to fill a gap left by the departure of the Jerome Group quite some challenge for a recent graduate. Misac helped to develop interpretation packages for a wide variety of mining geophysical techniques from induced polarization through transient electromagnetics to gravity and magnetics. Misac's principal professional contribution remains enlightened interpretation of geophysical field data.

    Misac has many excellent publications in Geophysics. The magnetometric resistivity method has received his continual attention and his work on two-dimensional Hilbert transform theory applied to potential field interpretation is unusually elegant. The best known and most important paper is also the most brief. His Quasistatic transient response of a conducting half-space An approximate representation (October 1979) provides insight into the behavior of transient electromagnetic fields as they diffuse into the earth. The impact of the paper has been tremendous. It was selected for the 1985 classics issue of the journal. 
    Misac has served the Society very effectively as Associate Editor for Electrical Methods, a daunting task, for two terms. He was fair, thorough and diplomatic. A command of seven languages made the task of identifying original contributions just a little easier. He edited the Special Issue on Time Domain Electromagnetics (July 1984): a collection of state-of-the-art papers which is the authoritative reference on the subject. He is currently giving birth to two volumes of invited papers on electromagnetic methods. Without Misac's persistent prodding over an extended pregnancy, these volumes could never be produced. 
    In private life, Misac married his charming wife Aida in 1966. The Nabighians have two children, Diana and Eddie, commencing university. Misac plays a keen, hedonic tennis game, and as vice-president of the Tucson Symphony Orchestra, he is active behind the scene bringing their computer system up to geophysical standards! 
    I close where I began, on the education of young geophysicists. While ever active in the service of his employer, Misac has nevertheless found the time to visit the university community and to teach. He has held academic appointments at Berkeley, Colorado School of Mines, Columbia, Toronto and Utah, and currently at the University of Arizona. He has served on innumerable visiting committees to these and other universities and he has consistently supported academic research. Misac provides one of those rare vital links between the professional and the academic. On behalf of his many friends and colleagues in both sectors, it has been a distinct privilege for me to write this citation for him.