Kelly Hong Liu

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Kelly Hong Liu
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SEG Outstanding Educator Award 2021

Kelly Hong Liu is a professor in geology and geophysics at Missouri University of Science and Technology (Missouri S&T). Liu has graduated 11 PhDs as supervisor, another 12 PhDs as a co-advisor, and 39 MS thesis and course-based students. She is currently an SEG member and advisor to the local SEG Student Chapter. She is an associate editor with the Journal of Geophysical Research. She has won seven teaching awards at Missouri ST and is regarded as an excellent researcher and professor. Her students have also won many awards. One student notes that Liu is a “real inspiration for many … Her passion for education was motivating…” She has been a prolific author, having published some 94 papers in refereed journals, many of which were with her students. Liu is especially active with SEG, the American Geophysical Union, the Seismological Society of America, and the Geological Society of America, and she provides a deep commitment to the advancement of the science of geophysics and development of geophysics students.

Biography Citation for the Outstanding Educator Award

by Kevin L. Mickus

ducator Award for Kelly Liu, who has demonstrated excellence as an educator, a researcher, and in service to the geoscience community. Kelly obtained her PhD in earthquake seismology at UCLA. Following her PhD, Kelly did a postdoctoral appointment at the Department of Terrestrial Magnetism at the Carnegie Institute and a tenure-track position at Kansas State University. Kelly then moved to Rolla, Missouri, where she currently resides teaching a variety of undergraduate and graduate geophysics courses at the Missouri University of Science and Technology. She teaches courses ranging from geophysical data processing to seismic interpretation to seismic stratigraphy to theory of elastic waves. Of importance is the seismic interpretation class, which is taught to a large number of students from different academic programs including Petroleum Engineering.

While Kelly is an outstanding researcher as evidenced by being named a fellow of the Geological Society of America and by publishing highly cited papers in top rated journals (e.g., Journal of Geophysical Research, Geophysical Research Letters, Earth and Planetary Science Letters, and Gondwana Research) on crustal and mantle seismology, her greatest contribution to geophysical education is mentoring 23 PhD and 39 MS students. The quality of her students’ research is evidenced by the majority of her MS and PhD students publishing one or more papers from their theses. Additionally, her students have won multiple awards and scholarships including outstanding thesis awards from Missouri University of Science and Technology, and scholarships from SEG including the SEG Earl D. and Reba C. Griffin Memorial Scholarship, the SEG/Chevron Student Leadership award, SEG leadership award, and an Anadarko/SEG Scholarship. She also served as the faculty advisor for several award winning student competition teams including the AAPG Imperial Barrel Competitions and the Schlumberger Ocean Academic Competition. Her students are employed in petroleum and government agencies, and four have become university professors with two being department chairpersons. Kelly is also the faculty advisor of the SEG student chapter where they have twice won the Ridge Level Award from SEG, which recognizes the top 30 student chapters around the world.

Her research has been funded by numerous National Science Foundation (NSF) and petroleum company grants. All of these grants have involved graduate and undergraduate students. Of importance are the NSF grants that have obtained geophysical equipment to perform near-surface studies and to obtain computing resources so that her students can perform high-intensity research. She also obtained two NSF undergraduate experience grants that made it possible for several students to go to Egypt to perform seismic reflection and magnetic studies on the Nile Delta.

In summary, Kelly is a dedicated teacher, superb researcher, and talented mentor of graduate students, and her effort has produced several geophysicists who are contributing to the further education of future geoscientists. She will continue to teach and mentor students in the geophysics field that will further advance the field. She is a very deserving winner of the SEG Outstanding Educator Award.