Manika Prasad

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Manika Prasad
Manika Prasad 2015 headshot.jpg
Latest company Colorado School of Mines
BSc Geology
MSc Geology
PhD Geophysics
BSc university University of Bombay, India
MSc university University of Kiel, Germany
PhD university University of Kiel, Germany

Manika Prasad is a Professor of the Petroleum Engineering Department at the Colorado School of Mines [1] and is a contributing member of the Colorado School of Mines Center for Rock Abuse [2]. Her research interests are multidisciplinary research on rock, sediment and fluid properties, quantitative nano- and microscale characterizations, flow zone mapping, and nondestructive materials characterization. A large part of Manika’s work is on clays, shales, unconsolidated sands, poorly and well consolidated sandstones and chalks, and impedance microstructure in rocks and glasses. Through her teaching and research, she engages the next generation of industry professionals through her own clear understanding of rock physics and perceptive questioning of her students.

SEG Virgil Kauffman Gold Medal 2017

Manika Prasad is recommended as the 2017 recipient of the Virgil Kauffman Gold Medal for her extensive experimental work in rock physics at the Colorado School of Mines. Letters from several prominent members of the profession voice support for Prasad to receive a Virgil Kauffman Gold Medal for her work in studying seismic wave propagation in complex rocks. These letter writers are particularly impressed with Prasad ’s recent work with shale rocks. They predict her experimental results in this area will be instrumental in evaluating unconventional reservoir plays with seismic data.

Biography Citation for the Virgil Kauffman Gold Medal 2017

by Ludmila Adam, Amos Nur, and Sergio Chávez-Pérez[3]

Manika Prasad is a natural recipient of the SEG Virgil Kauffman Gold Medal for her contributions to the field of experimental rock physics and geophysics. During her active career, Manika has led key developments in conceptual and experimental geophysical observations on a broad range of rock types and rock properties. Her strongest contributions relate to understanding the elastic, transport, and storage properties of shales and unconsolidated rocks in a variety of experimental setups to address a wide range of length scales.

Her innovative research has focused on interrelating elastic measurements using atomic force acoustic microscopy, scanning electron microscope, nitrogen gas absorption techniques, nuclear magnetic resonance, and complex electrical resistivity. This approach highlights her versatility and multidisciplinary experimental approach to the hardest of problems.

Manika has contributed to the understanding of how pore-space distribution and size (micro- to mesopores) depends on mineral types such as illite and smectite. Recently, Manika developed a methodology (and obtained a patent) to extract pore size information in unconventional reservoirs by extracting surface relaxivity from combined nuclear magnetic resonance, 3D digital rock models, and focused ion beam scanning electron microprobe measurements.

Her publications include some of the first work on anisotropic attenuation on unconsolidated and fractured sandstones. On a larger scale, Manika's work on defining hydraulic units from wave velocities has had a strong impact in the interpretation of hydrogeological data, petroleum geophysical well logs, and seismic field data. Manika's scientific contributions to geophysics have led to advances in conventional and unconventional petroleum reservoir characterization, exploration, and production.

Manika is the director of the successful Physics of Organics, Carbonates, Sands, and Shales Consortium at the Colorado School of Mines, showing that she excels at bridging academic questions and industry needs. After the unexpected passing of Mike Batzle, she has also taken on the leadership role in the Fluid and Direct Hydrocarbon Indicator Consortium.

Manika's capacities as a teacher were recognized by the SEG Continuing Education Lecturer on Rock Physics of Shales (2014) and the SEG Outstanding Educator Award (2015). The Virgil Kauffman Gold Medal will recognize Manika's status and record as a role model for men and women within SEG and across the greater geophysics community.

Biography citation for the SEG Outstanding Educator Award 2015

by Ken Larner and Maria Angela Capello While an educator’s task is to teach, her goal and purpose are for her students to learn. Perhaps even more, it is to instill in those students an excitement about the subject she is teaching and love of further learning as a result of that teaching. Manika Prasad, selected to receive the 2015 SEG Outstanding Educator Award, is many times over a model recipient for this honor.

Not unusual for geophysicists, Manika’s career spans beyond three continents and several professional disciplines in and related to the earth sciences. Starting with a B.Sc. (honors) at the University of Bombay, India, she went on to obtain a M.Sc. and then Ph.D. (summa cum laude) at Christian-Albrechts Universität in Kiel, Germany. Her study disciplines migrated from geology (chemistry minor) to geology (minors in geophysics and marine geology) and then to geophysics (minors in marine geology and sedimentology). This brought her to an academic career that included appointments at the University of Hawaii, Stanford University, and Colorado School of Mines. This path empowered her to achieve a distinguishing perspective for multidisciplinary studies and applications as well as a very special skill to steer multiculturalism toward effective teamwork.

Manika is an educator in the most comprehensive sense of the word, from the nanoscale of the micropores in the cores she likes to study (and abuse!) to the basin scale, where her research findings are applied. A prolific and significant contributor in experimental and theoretical research into the physics of rocks and their contained fluids, she has taught courses at the undergraduate and graduate levels and to the exploration-geoscience community at large.

Remarkably, she was the 2014 SEG Continuing Education Lecturer and 2012 SEG/AAPG Fall Distinguished Lecturer, in a rare example of a woman geophysicist in a leading technical role, of which we need so many more, to inspire the young generations. One of her students told us, “Manika is known not only for excellence in research and education, but for her high moral values and humility as a person…. Manika has been much more than a teacher and an adviser. She has been a role model for many students at CSM.”

Beyond teaching in the classroom, as a keynote speaker or invited panelist in international technical events, and through an extensive number of publications, Manika’s skills as an educator include advising some 31 graduate and undergraduate students in geophysics, petroleum engineering, and chemical engineering.

In addition, she serves SEG as Associate Editor of Geophysics and as a member of several committees. She also is the technical editor of the Reservoir Evaluation and Engineering Formation Evaluation for SPE. Twice, Manika was named Outstanding Mentor to Native American Students at Stanford. This year, she was nominated for the SPE Innovative Teaching Award the Petroleum Engineering department at CSM.

But if we want to better picture why Manika deserves this year’s SEG Outstanding Educator Award, we have to listen to her students:

  • “My class with Professor Manika was truly one of the most useful and enjoyable classes I took, in no small part because she clearly put the time and effort into each of the students in the class. I found in her a mentor in every sense of the word!”
  • “After Mike Batzle died, Manika took care of Mike’s research group and consortium, becoming the adviser of four additional Ph.D. students and three master’s students. Without her, we all would have been left without guidance.”
  • “Dr. Prasad’s research interests transcend the fields of geophysics, geology, and petroleum engineering and allow her to challenge her research students into thinking outside the box, to come up with an integrated subsurface solution to the questions they intended to answer. I am very glad to work with her.”

Here is an educator who does it all with a gracious manner, replete with warmth and, invariably, fine humor. Manika Prasad virtually defines what it means to be an outstanding educator and an outstanding person.



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  1. Petroleum Engineering Department, Colorado School of Mines: Faculty
  2. Center for Rock Abuse
  3. (2017). ”Honors and Awards.” The Leading Edge, 36(10), 806–819.
  4. Whaley, J., 2017, Oil in the Heart of South America,], accessed November 15, 2021.
  5. Wiens, F., 1995, Phanerozoic Tectonics and Sedimentation of The Chaco Basin, Paraguay. Its Hydrocarbon Potential: Geoconsultores, 2-27, accessed November 15, 2021;
  6. Alfredo, Carlos, and Clebsch Kuhn. “The Geological Evolution of the Paraguayan Chaco.” TTU DSpace Home. Texas Tech University, August 1, 1991.