The 2020 SEG Virgil Kauffman Gold Medal Award 
Carlos Torres-Verdín is receiving this award for his body of work in advancing the science of exploration geophysics, especially in the preceding five years. He has made significant contributions in developing new methods in applied electromagnetics, physics-based understanding of fluid flow from borehole measurements, and new laboratory results for quantifying fluid transport in shale. Most recently, Carlos has extended his theoretical work to application in industry. This includes the development of new methods for modeling, processing, and interpreting borehole measurements in nonvertical wells and the geostatistical inversion of well-log and surface seismic data for reservoir description. His work on these topics continues to be on the leading edge of seismic technology. He, his collaborators, and his students have developed the practical concepts and methods that allow an interpretation workflow that is the standard practice in operating companies. Torres-Verdín’s deep and lengthy academic body of work was highlighted when he was awarded Honorary Membership in 2017. He has published extensively and is highly cited. Torres-Verdín is deeply respected by his industry and academic peers as well as the many students he has mentored. SEG is especially thankful for his extensive and continued service to the Society through teaching, committee work, editorial efforts, and organization of meetings and workshops. Torres-Verdín represents the standard of applied-geophysics contributions to which all of us may aspire.
Biography Citation for the 2020 SEG Virgil Kauffman Gold Medal Award
Carlos Torres-Verdín and his students have advanced prominent and original science in the development of truly integrated multiphysics methods for the quantitative interpretation of wellbore geophysical and petrophysical data to deliver formation evaluation products. The methods for fast forward modeling and inversion of electromagnetic, nuclear, acoustic, and magnetic resonance measurements, all done within the frame of a dynamic wellbore modeled with petroleum engineering methods, has fundamentally altered the approach taken by industry to quantitative petrophysical interpretation. The fact that his university-based industrial consortium has had continued participation from all major logging vendors since its inception 20 years ago is a true testament to the strength of his research and the impact he and his students have had on borehole geophysics and petrophysics. The University of Texas group founded and led by Carlos is unrivalled in academia and is recognized by all as “the” petrophysical program around the world. He and his students continue to deliver research that advances and ensures that the original petrophysical vision of Archie is realized and practiced by petrophysical engineers and geophysicists in both operating companies and the service sector around the world.
A particularly noteworthy development realized by Carlos and his students during their research is the development of innovative methods that deliver truly integrated static-dynamic petrophysical rock types, useful for ensuring that 3D petrophysical results are available and extend beyond the wellbore. The approach to both simulating logging instrument responses, within a dynamic wellbore, and the inclusion of 3D layer- based petrophysical rock types with credible, petroleum engineering-based static and dynamic rock properties takes the science of petrophysics well beyond the original art of log analysis and “pay counts.” These 3D rock types guarantee that petrophysical model results are amenable and available to dynamic reservoir simulators. Further, with the inclusion of elastic properties modeling as part of the petrophysical workflow, they have had great success in connecting petrophysics to geophysical and geomechanical workflows for 3D and 4D seismic attribute interpretation.
As a university professor, Carlos has led the development of a dynamic set of students and postdoc researchers, who are all actively contributing in industry and academia and who will be the next generation of petrophysical engineers and distinguished educators. The nearly 21-year publication record for Carlos and his students (to date, more than 210 refereed journal publications and 240 peer-reviewed conference proceedings) is a true and lasting testament to the impact of the interpretation methods they have developed. His team has an outstanding record of publications within SEG, the Society of Petroleum Engineers, the Society of Petrophysicists and Well Log Analysts (SPWLA), and the European Association of Geoscientists and Engineers, including numerous best paper and best poster awards from research they have reported. His students (34 PhD, 47 MS, and 16 BS students, in addition to 20 postdoctoral fellows) continue to write and publish as well as take leadership roles in editorial processes for all three of the societies previously noted. Further, he has now a legacy of three students elected SPWLA president and five professors at reputable international universities. He has genuinely installed the next generation of petrophysical leaders, and they will continue his legacy of publication and service to multiple professional organizations.
In closing, the cumulative record of technical and professional accomplishments from Carlos are both significant and of true multidisciplinary professional impact to our industry. His previous awards from multiple professional societies are indeed testament to this growing legacy that Carlos and students have had on our industry. He is a passionate instructor and a dedicated student mentor as well as an exceptional role model for many geoscientists and petroleum engineers. His exemplary and long-standing service to SEG speaks loudly about his love of his profession. May this award also be a deserving distinction to his students and collaborators over the year.
SEG Honorary Membership 2017
Carlos Torres-Verdín is receiving Honorary Membership for his long and dedicated support of applied geophysics through exceptional research, outstanding education, and service to SEG. Over a long and meritorious acaemic career, Torres-Verdín has distinguished himself among his peers through numerous technical advancements, most notably in the areas of processing modeling and interpretation of borehole geophysical measurements, understanding the interaction of borehole measurements with multiphase flow in porous media, and of laboratory measurements to quantify fluid transport in shales. In addition to being an innovative and engaging university educator, he regularly provides courses for industry professionals. He has published 51 papers in Geophysics, eight in Interpretation, and nine in The Leading Edge (TLE). His lengthy record of service to SEG includes coeditor and editor of several special sections of TLE, working as associate and assistant editor for Geophysics, and serving on the technical program and organizing committees for the Annual Meeting and several workshops.
Biography Citation for the SEG Honorary Membership 2017
by Zoya Heidari
Carlos Torres-Verdín is not a typical geophysical engineer, or a typical academic for that matter. When he was a teenager, he craved to be a physicist but became a geophysical engineer instead when an accident forced him to postpone his entrance to the National Polytechnic Institute in his native Mexico (circa 1978). It was this serendipitous event that will mark his professional life forever, but he has never looked back in regret. While physics continues to be his spiritual magnet, his home will always be applied geophysics. And even though he has a number of important technical contributions in electromagnetic geophysics to his credit, his greatest achievements are in multidisciplinary geophysics, where he has advanced new methods to integrate traditional geophysical concepts with geology, fluid flow in porous media, materials science, and modern instrumentation and data processing. All these contributions carry the mark of an inquisitive mind that sees no knowledge boundaries and that is avid to use deep physics intuition to comfortably move anywhere from quantum mechanics to elasticity theory. During his 9- and 18-year-long industry and academic career, respectively, Carlos pioneered several methods for multiphysics interpretation of borehole geophysical measurements acquired in vertical and deviated wells that are currently being used by service and operating companies alike. He is the founder and director of the most successful university-based research consortium on formation evaluation since 2000, with an average of 23 industry members during the past five years. Carlos is also a passionate teacher, a dedicated student mentor, and an exceptional role model and caring mentor for many geoscientists and petroleum engineers in our industry and academia. He has outstanding talent and skills to express highly technical material in an understandable way for students while keeping the course content interesting and informative for varied professional audiences. He has delivered dozens of industry courses to educate young professionals and experienced petroleum engineers and geoscientists. I am one of the 65 students who have thus far received a graduate degree under his direct research supervision (28 PhD and 37 Master’s students). He has a unique model of research supervision and leadership, which motivates and challenges his students to be independent, questioning, self-confident, and creative. His former students are among the top petrophysicists in the petroleum industry; some of them are currently serving in important managerial positions in major oil and gas companies, and three of them have joined the professorial ranks in other universities.
Carlos is a scholar of extraordinary insight whose publications and achievements have been recognized by sister technical societies such as EAGE, SPE, and SPWLA. His dedicated volunteering service to SEG has come in multiple and diverse ways; he is always happy and honored to lend a hand to SEG and is never short of time or words to motivate young minds to find their professional niche in applied geophysics.
Carlos enjoys life in the outdoors (with Patagonia being his greatest naturalist love) and has completed 20 marathons and more than 230 half marathons. He teams up with his wife, Laurel Treviño, on sustainable ecology and sustainable home living projects on their land, as well as on the conservation and propagation of native Texas vegetation. Carlos is quick to credit Laurel for having instilled in him a genuine love and appreciation for evolutionary biology, ecology, and sustainable agriculture, all of which have influenced his way of thinking and his research projects in many unsuspected ways. He also credits his only long-time hero, Richard Feynman, for teaching him that questioning, deep thinking, and back-of-the-envelope calculations can be as much fun as climbing mountains. Lastly, Carlos insists that this award would have never been possible without the work and enormous talent of his graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and former mentors. I am honored to provide this citation for this well-deserved award to Carlos Torres-Verdí.
- Honors and Awards Program, 2020 SEG Annual Meeting, Houston
- (2017). ”Honors and Awards.” The Leading Edge, 36(10), 806–819. http://dx.doi.org/10.1190/tle36100806.1