Arthur Cheng

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Arthur Cheng
Arthur C. H. Cheng headshot.png
Membership Life Membership


Arthur Cheng has given exemplary service to SEG. He has been a member of the Research Committee for over 16 years (including a term as chairman), a member of the Academic Liaison Committee for over 17 years (including service as chairman and co-chairman), the Global Affairs Committee for 10 years, a member of the Development and Production Geophysics Committee for six years, and a member of the SEG Council for four years. He has been an organizer or co-organizer for nine pre- and postconvention SEG workshops, four summer research workshops, three Technical Program committees, and three international symposia co-sponsored by SEG on Geotomography (twice) and Fracture Imaging. This work is critical to the functioning of SEG. He has also established important links with the Chinese and Japanese geophysical communities in particular through his organization of international symposia and numerous trips and his work on the Research and Global Affairs committees. As SEG contemplates the winds of change brought by globalization, Arthur Cheng epitomizes what it means to be a truly global geophysicist.

Biography Citation for SEG Life Membership 2013

Contributed by Peter Pangman

The key question is which one of Arthur’s many strengths, both technical and personal, is the essence for which this honor is so much deserved. To me it is his generosity: generosity of time, generosity of enthusiasm, and generosity with his money. All those who know Arthur are familiar with the first two: his unstinting sharing of time and energy for causes ranging from volunteerism to global engagement to research to sharing knowledge with students. Few, however, know of his penchant for funding students. I saw this first at a Research Committee dinner at an SEG Annual Meeting. I was collecting fees when Arthur walked over and said, “Don’t let the students pay. I will pay for all.” Generosity is his core.

I know Arthur best from his dedicated service on SEG leadership boards. He was a director on the inaugural board of the SEG Advanced Modeling Corporation (SEAM) where he served proudly from 2007 to 2009, latterly as chair. This was followed by service to SEG as Vice President in 2009–2010 when he was a passionate spokesperson for serving the membership. Arthur provided a needed perspective during those days of financial focus. Now he is in the middle of his first term (2012–2014) as a director on the SEG Foundation Board. What I have learnt is that Arthur is a doer, a man of action.

Arthur’s accomplishments on behalf of SEG are many, well listed in the summary above. All are exemplary, though in my mind one stands out for the magnitude of what he has helped to accomplish: Arthur’s role as a change agent and facilitator in the launch of the SEAM initiative. While serving as chair of the Research Committee (2002-2004), he was a member of the “gang of five” who recognized our profession’s need for collaborative industrial-strength modeling to tackle the big geophysical challenges of the day.

Their vision was grand: a sound business approach creating a continuous stream of new models and new simulations needed by our industries. Their breakthrough was to envisage SEG as the leader. They pushed hard from 2004–2006 and in 2007 SEAM Corporation was born. Six years later SEAM is a going concern preparing to launch its third major research consortium, recognized as an effective research partner by leading corporations and by the United States government (RPSEA). No other professional membership association in our sector has anything like SEAM. It could not have happened without the persistence and vision of Arthur and his co-conspirators.

Another area that deserves special mention is Arthur’s role in globalizing our Society. In the words of former President Bill Barkhouse: “Arthur’s leadership on the Global Affairs Committee (1990s) stands out for how he mentored with great success many of our geophysicists from around the world.” Arthur has also had a long association with SEG’s China activities going back to his first volunteer activity with SEG when, in 1988, he helped organize SEG’s first China workshop, this one held in the oil fields of Daqing. Since then he has been active in several major SEG/ SPG Beijing conferences.

But how did it start? What brought Arthur to SEG? MIT was the beginning with the network of fellow geophysical leaders developed there during his PhD (1974– 1978). Interestingly Arthur views himself as an “acoustics guy”, not in the SEG mainstream. He could have dedicated himself to several other societies, not SEG. So why did he choose us? His answer is simple: “SEG truly is a memberdriven society, unlike others.” And what advice would he give to those not yet active: “SEG helped me more than I SEG”, referring to the personal knowledge gained through technical sessions, the opportunity to demonstrate his organizing abilities through workshops, and the network of professional friends and colleagues he could not have had without SEG. His one regret? “I should have got involved sooner, not waited till I was asked in 1988!” Arthur is proof, as can be said of the best SEG leaders, that the generosity you give pays back many times over.