Azra Tutuncu

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Azra Tutuncu
Azra Tutuncu headshot.png
Latest company Colorado School of Mines
BSc Geophysics
MSc Petroleum Engineering
PhD Petroleum Engineering
BSc university Istanbul Technical University
MSc university University of Texas at Austin
PhD university University of Texas at Austin

Memorial [1]

by Cengiz Esmersoy


Azra Tutuncu d. September 2019

Azra Tutuncu d. September 2019

We lost a bright scholar and dear friend. On 13 September 2019, the news of Azra Tutuncu's untimely passing started to spread among her colleagues and friends. It was completely unexpected. Days before, she was contacting her colleagues on the SEG Research Committee to make plans for a meeting and dinner in San Antonio, Texas.

Azra was the Harry D. Campbell Chair, director of petroleum engineering, and director of the Unconventional Natural Gas and Oil Institute at the Colorado School of Mines. At Mines, she taught and conducted research related to geomechanics and unconventional reservoirs. Azra was actively involved in global collaboration for unconventional resource development. She was well loved and highly respected by her students for her kindness and passion toward teaching and research.

Prior to teaching, she worked for Shell in the Netherlands and Houston, where she held various research and leadership assignments in well engineering, rock physics, geomechanics, and subsurface. She received a doctorate and master's degree in petroleum engineering from the University of Texas at Austin, another master's degree from Stanford University, and a bachelor's degree in geophysics from Istanbul Technical University.

Her main interests included rock physics and geomechanics, but she extended her work into a broader area including geology, geophysics, and drilling. She often reached out to researchers in other disciplines for joint work, workshops, and publications.

She had more than 200 reviewed publications, several patents, and many conference proceedings and reports. Azra was an active member of the American Association of Drilling Engineers, American Rock Mechanics Association, Pi Epsilon Tau, SEG, Sigma Xi, and Society of Petroleum Engineers. She was a member of the American Geosciences Institute Environmental Geoscience Advisory Committee, SEG Global Affairs Committee, and chair of the SEG Research Committee. She was a former president of the American Rock Mechanics Association and served on the Executive Board and the EPA Scientific Advisory Board on Hydraulic Fracturing Research. She was also a licensed professional petroleum engineer in Texas and Colorado and a licensed professional geoscientist in Texas.

As we remember Azra, I believe she would want us to also remember Ali Meşe, her late husband who passed away last year. Ali had a very similar career and was a well-known expert in geomechanics, particularly for unconventional resources. Losing Ali was difficult for Azra. She held a memorial reception for him in Houston for his friends and family, and she continued to talk about his scientific contributions at every opportunity, often emotionally.

The news of Azra's passing came as a surprise to all of her colleagues, friends, and students. During the 2019 Annual Meeting, SEG delivered a bouquet of flowers to the Colorado School of Mines booth as a small way to express condolences and appreciation for her dedication to the Society.

We will always remember Azra. There is no doubt her research will continue to live, educate, and motivate young scientists and engineers.


  1. Memorial, The Leading Edge, Volume 39, Issue 1, P. 68.