Mrinal Sen

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Mrinal Sen
Mrinal Sen 2015 headshot.png
Membership Honorary Member
PhD Geophysics
PhD university University of Hawaii at Manoa

SEG Honorary Membership Award 2015

Mrinal K. Sen pioneered development and application of stochastic optimization methods for seismic waveform inversion, gravity interpretations, and seismic migration velocity analysis. In addition to serving as a University of Texas professor, Mrinal also served as the director of the National Geophysical Research Institute of India.

Biography Citation for the SEG Honorary Membership Award 2015

by Paul Stoffa

Mrinal Sen received his B.Sc. and M.Sc. degrees from the Indian School Mines and Ph.D. from the Hawaii Institute of Geophysics of the University of Hawaii. Prior to joining graduate school, he worked in the oil industry as a seismic data processing geophysicist. His graduate research, supervised by Neil Frazer, showed him to be an excellent and high-caliber scientist. Mrinal’s original work on a multifold-path integral formulation for computing seismograms was a new and unique approach to elastic seismogram synthesis. He investigated seismic modeling in anisotropic media when anisotropy was not commonly employed in seismic analysis. Later in his career, he followed up this early research by formulating plane-wave analysis methods for imaging anisotropic seismic data.

After graduation, Mrinal worked to develop numerical models for seismic hazard estimation in the Los Angeles Basin. Thus, his original research interests were very broad; he studied seismic wave-propagation problems at all scales ranging from global to exploration seismology. This trend continued throughout his research career, in which he addressed a large number of significant and varied problems but now principally focused on the field of exploration geophysics.

Mrinal joined the University of Texas at Austin Institute for Geophysics in 1989 as a researcher and later became a professor in the Department of Geological Sciences and holder of the John A. and Katherine G. Jackson Chair in Applied Seismology in the Jackson School of Geosciences. Mrinal is a passionate teacher in and outside the classroom. To date, he has supervised or cosupervised more than 25 graduate students and an equal number of postdoctoral fellows and visiting scientists. He has been an associate editor of Geophysics and teaches an SEG continuing education short course on full-waveform inversion.

Mrinal’s long-term collaboration with Paul Stoffa resulted in the most cited papers on global optimization methods published in Geophysics. Their book on global optimization methods in geophysical inversion continues to be one of the most cited resources on this subject. This book received attention not only from the geosciences community but from other branches of science and engineering as well. In 2006, Mrinal published a monograph on seismic inversion for the Society of Petroleum Engineers.

In addition to continuing his work on inverse problems and uncertainty quantification using stochastic methods, Mrinal works on numerical and analytical methods for seismogram synthesis. His most recent research with former student Jonas DeBasabe on error analysis is the first to systematically document numerical dispersion errors for finite-element and finite-difference methods in a generalized framework, and collaborations with Yang Liu resulted in new methods for FD discretization and absorbing boundaries.

During 2012 and 2013, Mrinal worked as the director of the National Geophysical Research Institute (NGRI) in India, a position to which he was appointed by the prime minister of India. During his tenure at NGRI, he combined his strong technical skills with his management acumen to develop strong research and academic programs. He led a vigorous program of airborne EM surveys for groundwater exploration and uranium exploration, developed strong ties with the oil industry, built a high-performance computation center, and established a robust academic program in geophysics.

Mrinal Sen highly deserves the recognition of Honorary Member by the Society of Exploration Geophysics for his many excellent research contributions in seismic wave propagation, inverse problems, imaging, and reservoir characterization. In addition, he has mentored a large number of geophysics graduate students and postdoctoral fellows who have joined the exploration industry and contributed to its success. Mrinal is also recognized for his relentless services to the geophysics community in general and the Society of Exploration Geophysics in particular.

"Mrinal Sen, 2009"

Biography 2009

Mrinal K. Sen received a B.S. and an M.S. in applied geophysics from the Indian School of Mines and a Ph.D. in geophysics from the University of Hawaii at Manoa.[1] He worked as an exploration geophysicist before becoming a researcher in 1989 at the Institute for Geophysics, University of Texas at Austin, where he is a professor and holder of the Jackson Chair in Applied Seismology at the Jackson School of Geosciences. His research interests include seismic-wave propagation, inverse problems, seismic imaging, and computational geophysics. He has written two books on global optimization and seismic inversion. He is a member of SEG, AGU, EAGE, SIAM, and EAS.


  1. Contributors GEOPHYSICS Jul 2009, Vol. 74, No. 4, pp. Z69-Z73.