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.

SEG Honorary Membership 2021

Arthur Cheng is the 2021 recipient of the Honorary Membership Award, awarded to those who have made distinguished contributions to exploration geophysics or a related field or to the advancement of the profession of exploration geophysics through service to the Society. Cheng has contributed significantly to technical advancement of geophysics through his work in both industry and academia. He has had a major influence on the advancement of the profession—both inside and outside of SEG—through his work with and support of students as well as various volunteer positions with SEG

Biography Citation for SEG Honorary Membership 2021

Contributed by Elita Li

In my growth as an early-career geophysicist, I have been extremely fortunate to have great role models from whom I have sought inspiration. Professor Arthur Cheng's influence on my research dates back to my undergraduate thesis study. One of his masterpieces, the inclusion model for elastic anisotropy, has had long-lasting impact in rock physics and seismic model building. I measured P- and S-wave anisotropy on synthetic rocks that were constructed according to the Hudson-Cheng model. Recently, we formulated a formal inverse problem to estimate shale anisotropy from vertical well logs based on the same model. This model was also used to construct large data sets for machine learning applications. The resulting neural network has demonstrated itself to be generalizable to well-log estimation in drastically different geologic settings and has the potential to provide real-time anisotropy logs. All of these works are only feasible because of the simple yet powerful model that Arthur first formulated in his doctoral thesis. As a classic masterpiece, this work from more than 40 years ago stood the test of time and has gained increasing attention in recent years.

Needless to say, Arthur has made most of the fundamental contributions in acoustic borehole logging. During his long career in academia at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), he pioneered the use of numerical modeling, data processing, and digital interpretation in borehole acoustics. The book and papers he published with his student Xiaoming Tang earned him the name of godfather of borehole acoustics. They are translated into many languages and used as textbooks in the area of borehole logging. He cofounded the Earth Resources Laboratory at MIT and led the lab to its peak with numerous sponsors, impactful research, and star graduates. Extending his profound theoretical knowledge, he led teams first at Western Atlas and then Halliburton and built the new generation of sonic logging tools that are widely used in the industry. Although many scientists make contributions in either fundamental understanding or practical application, very few have succeeded in bringing new technologies from scratch to overwhelming commercial successes. Arthur is one of the few in the discipline of geophysics to have achieved this. His extraordinary contributions and achievements were well recognized not only by the geophysics community but also by the Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE), who awarded him the SPE Formation Evaluation Award, recognizing the advancements he brought in the area of core analysis, well logging, and petrophysics.

Arthur is also an excellent educator. His students, graduated and in training at MIT, the National University of Singapore (NUS), and the Southern University of Science and Technology, collectively contribute to advancements in all areas of geophysics including rock physics, borehole seismic and acoustics, formation evaluation, and seismic quantitative interpretation. Arthur cofounded the Sustainability Geophysics Project with me at NUS in 2016. With a large research group, we are at the forefront of geophysics applied to carbon sequestration, efficient and smart cities, and machine learning. Arthur generously offers his mentorship to anyone who reaches out to him. He has provided postdoctoral training positions, internships, and visiting positions for many young scientists all over the world. He has served on PhD committees, scientific boards, and visiting committees for many universities, start-up companies, and research institutes. He works with young researchers with an open and encouraging mind and nurtures many of them to become leaders in academia, industry, and entrepreneurship.

Last but not least, Arthur is one of the most active members of SEG. He has organized and chaired many research workshops at SEG. He has been on the SEG Foundation Board of Directors since 2012 and served as SEG vice president in 2009–2010. He is actively promoting geophysical knowledge and culture in Southeast Asia for the underdeveloped countries. Arthur has served on the editorial board of Geophysics since 2006. He will serve as the senior assistant editor on 1 August 2022 and as Geophysics editor for 2023. Being a top-notch researcher, Arthur continues to broaden and safeguard the knowledge base of various areas of geophysics based on his golden standards in innovation and professionalism.

Arthur is an extraordinary geophysicist who has influenced many generations of geophysical research, education, and profession. Driven by never-ceasing curiosity and an altruistic nurturing mind, he ascends to new peaks of excellence every single day, even after a remarkable four-decades-long career. With Honorary Membership, SEG recognizes the most distinguished figures in our community. It has been our privilege to work closely with and learn firsthand from Arthur. There is no doubt that his dedication radiates far and beyond and continues to inspire many generations of geophysicists to come.

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.

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Arthur Cheng
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