William Rust

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William Rust
W. M. Rust headshot.jpg
President year 1944


William M. (Will) Rust, JR., was a pioneering geophysicist. He served as the 1944-1945 SEG President and was awarded Honorary Membership in 1982.



Biography Citation for SEG Honorary Membership

Contributed by Richard A. Geyer

The official reason given by the Honors and Awards Committee of the Society of Exploration Geophysicists for unanimously electing Dr. William M. Rust, Jr. for Honorary Membership in the Society is "In recognition of your distinguished contribution to the advancement of the profession of exploration geophysics through basic initiation of the exploration geophysics program at the University of Texas at Austin and service to the Society." This is undeniably true, but this outstanding accomplishment is but the proverbial "tip of the iceberg in attempting to catalogue his diversified, major contributions to this profession and to the Society, spanning a period of more than four decades. These are by no means confined to the industry, but include also the academic and governmental sectors. He has often successfully played the role of a highly effective catalyst bringing together divergent viewpoints from members of different scientific disciplines to help solve a wide spectrum of problems. This was accomplished in a very effective though subtle manner, without them being aware of what was actually happening.

Will Rust is one of the early pioneers responsible for the development of geophysical exploration from an infant interdisciplinary science to the status of a mature and sophisticated profession. His varied activities during this period symbolize his thorough grasp of a variety of scientific and engineering subjects, as well as emphasizing the very nature of exploration geophysics.

His own field of specialization as a student was in mathematics. He received his doctorate at Rice University. Will also taught mathematics there prior to his affiliation with the Humble Oil & Refining Company (Exxon), where he devoted the efforts of his entire industrial career. He held a succession of important administrative positions, including in such areas as geophysical research and data processing. However, this did not preclude his participation personally in research projects, of which a number led to the granting of patents in fields of geophysical instrumentation and processes.

Rust served as Chairman of the Radio Frequency Allocation Committee of the Society during the critical period immediately after World War II. Much depended at this time upon the Society receiving its fair share of these allocations, if the fledgling Society was to prosper in the future. Because of his outstanding qualities and accomplishments, it is not surprising that when Dr. Thomas Barrow of Humble and others realized the need for an exploration geophysics program in the Department of Geological Sciences of the University of Texas at Austin, that Dr. Rust was prevailed upon to accept the challenge to initiate such a program. At that time he was no stranger to certain faculty in a number of Departments at the University, including the Department of Electrical Engineering for example, with whom he had worked closely in committees with the Institute of Radio Engineers (now the IEEE). Similarly, as early as World War II, he collaborated with some members of the Department of Physics, including Drs. LaCoste and Romberg. He made significant contributions in applying geophysical principles and equipment toward solving a number of major military problems.

The Department of Geological Sciences was fortunate indeed in having Will Rust initiate the exploration geophysics program at the university. Here was a person who had not only all the necessary professional qualifications and experience but, of at least equal importance, a combination of diplomacy and subtle persuasion to extract the best out of people, both individually and collectively.

The rest of this story is now a matter of record. The exploration geophysics program made and continues to make significant contributions to the overall broad objectives of the Department of Geological Sciences and it is widely recognized as a leader in its field. As would be expected, when the time came to select his successor he was again in the forefront of the search, and it resulted in the appointment of Dr. Milo Backus, who needs no introduction to geophysicists in the industrial, academic and governmental sectors.

In addition to being a charter member of the Society, Will has held many offices and important committee assignments. He has served as Secretary-Treasurer, Vice-President and President. However, his services to the Society did not end after serving as President. In fact, one of the major contributions was as Chairman of the Constitution and Bylaws Committee for three years. This occurred in a very critical part of the history of the Society, when the basic rules were subjected to major revision. The results of this Committee's work served the Society well during the ensuing years by furthering its various aims and objectives.

In concluding the description of Will's formal role in the affairs of the Society, it is pertinent to note that one outgrowth of the rewriting of the Constitution was in placing emphasis, with the strong support of Cecil Green, on the formation of local and student sections. This has contributed immeasurably to the ever growing strength of the Society over the ensuing years. His concern with regard to student societies was also a harbinger of Will Rust's deep interest in academic matters, culminating in his successful initiation of the exploration geophysics program at the University of Texas at Austin.

Biography for SEG Presidency

Geophysics, VOL IX number 1 January 1944 page 122

W. M. Rust, JR., received his A.B. in 1928 from Rice Institute and served as a fellow there from 1928 until 1931, in which year he received his Ph.D. in Mathematics and Geophysics. He served as a Mathematics Instructor at Rice Institute 1931-1932; International exchange fel10w in Germany 1932-1933; and Instructor and tutor in mathematics at Harvard University 1933-1934. In 1934 he joined the staff of the Geophysics Research Division of the Humble Oil and Refining Company as a Research Geophysicist, engaging in research on seismograph prospecting and electrical wellllogging including the design of various electronic and mechanical equipment. He conntinued in this capacity until February, 1938, when he was made Division Head. He is a member of the American Mathematical Society, the American Physical Society, the American Geophysical Union, the American Association for the Advancement of Sciience, the American Institute of Mining and Metallurgical Engineers, the Seismological Society of America, and the Society of Exploration Geophysicists, of which he was Secretary-Treasurer in 1941-1942 and Vice-President in 1943-1944.

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