Brian Spies

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Brian Spies
Brian Spies headshot.png
Membership Life member
MSc Geology and physics
PhD Geophysics
MSc university University of New South Wales
PhD university Macquarie University

Biography Citation for SEG Life Membership

Contributed by Phillip R. Romig


To his colleagues, Brian's name brings to mind words like internationalism, collaboration, communication, hard work, commitment, and, most of all, zeal. True leaders are zealots with the passion to pursue a vision with unwavering purpose, with the commitment to invest untold hours when it seems no one else cares, and with a clarity of vision that later causes the rest of us to wonder why it took us so long to jump on the bandwagon. Brian has been zealous in leading SEG to become a truly international society, to chart new directions with its publications, and most recently to embrace the age of electronic communications.

Yet he is a zealot with humanity and humility; he approaches every job with an outrageous sense of humor and enthusiasm, and it is more important to him to achieve the vision than to get credit.

Brian grew up in Sydney, Australia, with a fondness for mineral collecting that surfaced at a young age. In high school he manufactured thin sections of Australian rocks in his father's garage and distributed them to local schools. Brian's high school offered a strong geology component in its science program, and it was here that he was first exposed to geophysics.

Brian double-majored in geology and physics at the University of New South Wales and went on to earn a graduate diploma in applied geophysics on a cadetship from the Bureau of Mineral Resources, where he worked with a broad range of geophysical techniques in the Australian outback.

In 1976 Brian received the first SEG Foundation scholarship given in the southern hemisphere. This scholarship, and an Australian Public Service Board award, sent him to Macquarie University to pursue a Ph.D. on the application of transient electromagnetics in deeply weathered terrains. Brian also studied electrical prospecting methods in the Soviet Union, and he was an early pioneer in the use of the transient electromagnetic method.

Starting in 1980, Brian held posts in mineral exploration in Colorado and California, and was a visiting assistant professor at the University of California at Berkeley. In 1984 he moved to the ARCO Oil and Gas Research Center in Texas where he expanded his interests to include multicomponent seismology and reservoir characterization. In 1989 Brian was awarded ARCO's highest technical award, the Outstanding Technical Achievement Award in Research, for development of the TEMP (transient electromagnetic probing) corrosion detection technique.

Brian moved to Schlumberger-Doll Research in Ridgefield, Connecticut, in 1990, where he led development of deep-probing electromagnetic borehole techniques for reservoir imaging and worked on reservoir monitoring with permanently emplaced sensors. In July of this year, Brian returned to his native Australia to become director of the Cooperative Research Centre for Australian Mineral Exploration Technologies, a consortium of government, academic, and commercial interests committed to developing improved methods for Australia's exploration industry.

Brian lives in Sydney with his wife Pamela and two daughters Alexandra and Anna who have inherited a geophysicist's love of adventure and the outdoors.

Brian's contributions to geophysics include eight patents and 80 publications and articles. He is on the Editorial Board of Petroleum Geoscience; a member of ASEG, SPWLA, AGU, and EAGE; and serves on the U.S. National Academy of Sciences Committee for Non-Invasive Characterization of the Shallow Subsurface.

Since joining SEG in 1972, Brian has served the Society in many capacities. As Chairman of the Computer Applications Committee, he coordinated this year's seismic data compression workshop and, as head of the Ad Hoc Committee on Business Office Computers, he is advising SEG on its transition to the modern world of electronic communications. Brian coordinated the launching of SEG's World Wide Web service in 1995 and opened the door to electronic distribution of information to the Society's 14 000 members via the Internet.

As Special Editor, Brian has developed several digital publications including the digital cumulative index and online articles from Geophysics and The Leading Edge. He chaired the TLE Editorial Board in 1990-92 and served as Associate Editor of Geophysics on two occasions, 1985-89 and 1995-present. As chairman of the SEG International Affairs Committee in 1988-90, he was instrumental in encouraging the Society to better serve the interests of its increasingly influential international membership.