Niels Grobbe

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Niels Grobbe
Niels Grobbe

SEG J. Clarence Karcher Award 2021

Niels Grobbe is recognized as a leader in the fields of seismo-electromagnetics, seismic interferometry, and near-surface/hydrogeophysics. He has been credited with single handedly re-energizing the seismoelectric community and developing an innovative and insightful roadmap into the future for this discipline. Grobbe has been called a master at combining theory and experiment in his research. Even at this early stage in his career, he is considered an expert in all things interferometric with the potential to be the academic leader in this field. Grobbe’s work has proven industrial applications with innovations coming from his work in borehole seismoelectric resulting in a patent. His book on seismo-electromagnetics has become the go-to reference for this field of study. Grobbe has provided step changes in advancing the knowledge of interferometrics. He has mastered complicated numerical implementations where equations developed must be concise and consistent through the derivations, which in turn provide the engine for numerical modeling routines developed so that all communities, from near surface to global exploration, can access this technology. Grobbe has developed seismoelectric insights significant to exploration, linking theory with real-world applications. His innovation and vision sees no bounds with active research in forward-looking topics related to medical and planetary imaging. Grobbe is employed by the State Supervision of Mines (Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy, The Netherlands) and is affiliate faculty with the University of Hawaii at Mānoa (USA). He has authored 12 journal articles and five book chapters, has been editor of a book, and was awarded Best Student Paper at the SEG 2014 Annual Meeting. He is a patent holder, an associate editor of Geophysics, and winner of the Innovation Award at the 2019 International Conference on Engineering Geophysics.

Biography Citation for the J. Clarence Karcher Award

by Evert Slob and Kees Wapenaar

It feels like yesterday that Niels Grobbe applied for a PhD position in our group, yet it is already 11 years ago and many things have happened since then. In 2010, our group worked on seismic interferometry and on seismoelectric methods. We needed an excellent student to bring these two distinct fields together, and we were happy that Niels accepted this challenge. During his PhD research, Niels investigated the theoretical and practical aspects of using interferometric synthesis for seismoelectric fields, with oilfield applications in mind. This culminated in his PhD thesis, “Coupled poroelastic waves and electromagnetic fields in layered media,” which he successfully defended in June 2016.

Niels has an exemplary attitude toward scientific research. He analyzes his problems well and in detail, which has brought him deep knowledge and excellent skills. During his studies, Niels has been very active internationally in developing the seismoelectric method. His first accomplishment was the organization of a dedicated session during the 2014 American Geophysical Union (AGU) Fall Meeting. This brought the entire global seismoelectric community together to discuss the current state and the necessary steps to move forward. Niels was able to bring together the most important contributors to this field to write a book as an outgrowth of this session. This is an enormous achievement, and the book is published by John Wiley & Sons in 2021.

Niels surprised us time and again with his novel ideas, his accurate communication, and his engaging style. Two years ago, he was recognized internationally as an innovative scientist and received the Innovation Award-First Place in the SEG Middle East International Conference on Engineering Geophysics. Apart from working on his own topic, Niels has been actively engaged in the work of others while maintaining focus on his own topic in relation to other disciplines.

Niels is capable of addressing people with a wide variety of backgrounds and shows enthusiasm for his topic. He shows remarkable devotion to all aspects of his scientific work. During his PhD research, Niels proved to be an excellent supervisor for three master’s thesis students, dedicating a lot of time and energy to his students. Subsequently, as tenure-track assistant researcher at the University of Hawaii at Mānoa, he has supervised two graduate students, one undergraduate student and one postdoc, and currently is a PhD committee member. We recently had the pleasure of seeing him in action at an international conference, where he was a center of gravity for many young geoscientists. In 2020, Niels returned to the Netherlands, where he is now employed by State Supervision of Mines as Coordinating Specialist Inspector Subsurface. He remains affiliate faculty with the University of Hawaii.

Niels has published six journal papers as first author and six as coauthor, five book chapters as first author, and one patent. He is editor of the aforementioned book on seismoelectric exploration. His presentation style is excellent, which is confirmed by the SEG Award of Merit Best Student Paper Presented at the 2014 SEG Annual Meeting. Apart from all of these activities, Niels has served in several SEG and AGU councils and committees, has organized 12 dedicated sessions and workshops during international conferences, was guest editor of a special section in Geophysics, and is an associate editor for Geophysics and Geophysics Letters.

In our opinion, Niels rightfully receives the J. Clarence Karcher Award because of the highly innovative character of his research, his high-quality scientific output, his academic integrity, his enthusiastic support of a new generation of geophysicists, and, last but not least, the international recognition of his work and presentations. Receiving this award is a milestone marking his significant achievements to date and the excellent career that lies ahead of him.