Roy White

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Roy White
Roy E. White headshot.png
Membership Honorary Member


Roy E. White is awarded SEG Honorary Membership for his contributions as a world-class researcher and for his outstanding work as a mentor, both in industry and academia.


Biography Citation for SEG Honorary Membership

Contributed by Swavek Deregowski

The 1988 paper written with Walden and Longbottom, "Principles and application of maximum kurtosis phase estimation," illustrates Roy's data-led approach. In particular, the final sentence of the abstract is noteworthy in this respect as it reads, "Kurtosis can estimate phase better than other norms that are misleadingly declared to be more efficient by theory based on full-band, noise-free data."

I am therefore delighted that SEG has awarded Honorary Membership to Roy. This is most appropriate on two counts: for Roy's contributions as a world-class researcher and for his outstanding work as a mentor, both in industry and academia.

I have had the privilege of knowing Roy White since 1971 when he became a research geophysicist in BP's Geophysical Research and Technical Services organization, first at its Sunbury-on-Thames Research Centre and then at BP Exploration's offices in central London. During this period, Roy became renowned for his development of statistical methods for seismic analysis with particular emphasis on spectral techniques for seismic wavelet estimation.

Roy's close attention to practical realities and his keenness to have his work clearly understood and applied in practice made him particularly effective. Later, in 1989, Roy was to surprise most of us by becoming a professor of geology at Birkbeck College, part of the University of London. But on reflection, it should not have been that surprising as he had proved himself to be an outstanding educator on three continents.

Roy's achievements date back to at least 1956 when he won a state scholarship to Trinity Hall, Cambridge, where he obtained a B.A. in natural sciences. In 1960 Roy moved to Australia to work first as a demonstrator at the University of Adelaide's Department of Physics and then as a lecturer in the Department of Physics at the South Australian Institute of Technology. During this period, his interests became distinctly geophysical and, after obtaining a Ph.D. from Adelaide on the seismicity and crustal structure of South Australia, he became a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Geophysics at the University of Western Ontario. In 1971 Roy moved to England and joined BP Exploration. Over the ensuing years, both my colleagues and within BP learned a great deal from Roy while he demonstrated his commitment to detailed understanding of the true characteristics of seismic data. Indeed, Roy's published papers show him to have been in the forefront of practical technical advances in our industry over a long period of time. In his submission to the Honors and Awards Committee, Andrew Lucas, formerly a close associate of Roy and myself at BP, selected the following as highlights.

The 1973 paper, read in May 1972, "The estimation of signal spectra and related quantities by means of the multiple coherence function" describes a theory for wavelet estimation when there are no available well data. Roy received EAEG's Conrad Schlumberger Award in 1973 in recognition of this paper as an outstanding contribution to the scientific and technical advancement of geophysics.

The 1977 paper "The performance of optimum stacking filters in suppressing uncorrelated noise" is an excellent expos6 of over-elaborate stacking schemes and explains why they fail to fulfill their promise when applied to real seismic data.

The 1980 paper, read in 1978, "Partial coherence matching of synthetic seismograms with seismic traces," describes the theory of wavelet estimation when calibrated well data are available. A 1984 paper with Andrew Walden extended the statistical tests for validating such estimated wavelets.

The 1988 paper written with Walden and Longbottom, "Principles and application of maximum kurtosis phase estimation," illustrates Roy's data-led approach. In particular, the final sentence of the abstract is noteworthy in this respect as it reads, "Kurtosis can estimate phase better than other norms that are misleadingly declared to be more efficient by theory based on full-band, noise-free data."

I am therefore delighted that SEG has awarded Honorary Membership to Roy. This is most appropriate on two counts: for Roy's contributions as a world-class researcher and for his outstanding work as a mentor, both in industry and academia.