Robert Stewart

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Robert Stewart
Stewart Robert WebPortrait 180x226.jpg
Membership Life Member
BSc Math and Physics
PhD Geophysics
BSc university University of Toronto
PhD university Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Robert R. Stewart received his BSc from the University of Toronto in Math and Physics and PhD in Geophysics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He was employed with Chevron’s Oil Field Research Lab, California; ARCO in Dallas; and Veritas Software, Calgary. Rob was Professor of Geophysics at the University of Calgary, held its Chair in Exploration Geophysics, and co-founded the CREWES Project, a university-industry consortium. In 2008, he joined the University of Houston (UH) as Professor of Geophysics, holds the Cullen Chair in Exploration Geophysics, and is Director of the Allied Geophysical Laboratories. He received UH’s Natural Sciences and Mathematics Teaching Excellence Award in 2013, the UH Provost’s Teaching Excellence Award in 2014, and 2019 Team Teaching Award (for founding and directing UH’s Geophysical Field Camps). Rob is a licensed geoscientist in Alberta (P. Geo.) and Texas (P.G.). He holds fixed-wing and unmanned aircraft and SCUBA certifications. He has published over 150 articles in geoscience journals and magazines.

Rob was the 1999 inaugural SEG Distinguished Educator (presenting courses in 13 countries), a program that laid the groundwork for the SEG Distinguished Instructor Program. In addition to his current role as a Professor in the Department of Geology and Geophysics at the University of Calgary, Rob has been a long-time instructor with the SEG’s Continuing Education Program. His course on “Applicaton and Interpretation of Converted Waves,” taught with Jim Gaiser, has been, and continues to be, highly regarded for its practical and insightful nature. Rob has authored or co-authored scores of papers on topics that included converted-wave technology, estimation of seismic Q, innovative land multicomponent acquisition techniques, perspectives on the hydrocarbon industry, and 3C VSP imaging and interpretation. Rob has led geophysical expeditions to NASA’s High Arctic Haughton-Mars Project, Belize archaeological ruins, and post-earthquake Haiti as part of the Geoscientists Without Borders program. He served as President of the Canadian SEG and received its Honorary Membership Award and Medal. He received the SEG Best Poster Award in 1991 and has served as Associate Editor for signal processing in Geophysics. He completed service as the 1st Vice President of the Geophysical Society of Houston (2000 members), is a Past President of the SEG and was honored with Life Membership in SEG in recognition of his meritorious voluntary service to the Society. He is President of Sonderra, LLC – a geophysical consulting company.

Biography Citation for SEG Life Membership 2006

Contributed by Larry Lines

Robert Stewart is receiving Life Membership for his many significant contributions in geophysical research, education, and professional service.[1] His prolific career started with a bachelor’s degree in physics and mathematics from the University of Toronto and a PhD in geophysics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In industry, Stewart worked for Chevron, Arco, and Veritas Software. During these formative years, Robert became one of the leading researchers in vertical seismic profiling, borehole geophysics, and seismic tomography.

The biggest change in Stewart’s career took place in 1987 when he was selected as the chair in Exploration Geophysics at the University of Calgary. As chair, Stewart, with the help of Don Lawton and Jim Brown, initiated CREWES (Consortium for Research in Elastic Wave Exploration Seismology). Under Stewart’s leadership, CREWES became widely recognized both within Canada and around the world, winning the APEGGA (Association of Professional Engineers, Geologists and Geophysicists) Achievement Award in 1993, the NSERC (Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council) University-Industry Synergy Award in 1999, and SEG’s Distinguished Achievement Award in 2003.

In addition to helping advance geophysical exploration, Stewart has helped to take science “out of this world.” In 1992, Rob was chosen as an astronaut, but he declined this appointment and remained at the University of Calgary. However, Stewart’s interest in extraterrestrial physics did not cease. He continued to participate in Canadian Space Agency activities and was in Martian simulations on Devon Island. Rob has been known to travel from seismic experiments in Belize jungles to GPR surveys beyond the Arctic Circle during the same week. Given his space interests, a glowing stellar career, and fast-paced periodic journeys around the planet, Rob was given the nickname “The Comet” by his department head. A day in the life of Rob Stewart would exhaust most of us. His research activities span a wide range including: multicomponent seismology and the application of geophysics to archaeology, geotechnical engineering, and planetary science.

Robert Stewart is renowned as a lecturer. He continually receives top ratings at university for his popular courses on natural disasters, multicomponent seismology, and borehole geophysics. Rob has served as lecturer for the SEG Continuing Education Program and the CSEG’s Doodletrain. He was SEG’s inaugural Distinguished Educator and completed a six-month lecture tour around the world in 1999. His lectures both inform and entertain his audience, whether at the University of Calgary or in some distant part of the globe.

Rob’s contributions to SEG have been outstanding. He is a past editor of the Canadian Journal of Exploration Geophysics, past associate editor for GEOPHYSICS, and an instructor in the SEG Continuing Education Program. Rob has received numerous technical presentation awards from the CSEG and SEG. He was CSEG Convention Technical Chairman in 1992 and initiated the CSEG’s first Geophysical Exploration Fair that year. Rob received the CSEG Medal in 1992 and served as CSEG President in 1997-98.

With all of these activities in research, teaching, and service, one could hardly believe that Robert Stewart would have time for extracurricular activities. However, nothing could be further from the truth. Rob is active in vocal and instrumental music, piloting airplanes, hiking, skiing, and mountain climbing. His life is filled with activity. He continually inspires his students and colleagues with his positive encouraging approach to geophysical exploration. One can only imagine that there are many more adventures ahead in his life.

It is an honor and a privilege to write this citation for Robert Stewart. He is a truly deserving recipient of Life Membership.

Honorable Mention (Geophysics) 1989

R. R. Stewart received 1989 Honorable Mention (Geophysics) for his paper Integrated Seismic Analysis: Kidney Area, Northern Alberta, Canada.[2]


  1. Honors & Awards Program and Presidential Session ERNEST N. MORIAL CONVENTION CENTER, NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA 4 P.M., SUNDAY • 1 OCTOBER 2006
  2. Stewart, R. R. (1989) Integrated Seismic Analysis: Kidney Area, Northern Alberta, Canada, GEOPHYSICS 54(10):1240.

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