Sam Kaplan

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Sam Kaplan
Sam Kaplan headshot.png
PhD university University of Alberta

Sam Kaplan is the lead author of three papers in Geophysics and three expanded abstracts, and a co-author on one paper in The Leading Edge and six expanded abstracts. In 2006 Sam started work on a PhD at the University of Alberta under the auspices of SAIG (Signal Analysis and Imaging Group). Sam worked on a diversity of new problems and always pushed for new ideas in seismic data processing and imaging. For instance, Sam developed an algorithm for leastsquares migration that uses the concept of sparsity in common image space to properly precondition the inversion. He also contributed to the understanding of time-lapse monitoring. Sam proposed algorithms for reconstructing marine seismic data via least-squares migration and showed the necessity of expanding the model parameterization in order to accommodate waves not accounted by the forward modeling operator. While at the University of Alberta, Sam received the prestigious Queen Elizabeth II Graduate Scholarship (2009) from the Province of Alberta and the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers Graduate Scholarship in Geophysics (2007). He was also the recipient of the best student poster at the Canadian Society of Petroleum Geologists and Canadian Society of Exploration Geophysicists joint convention in 2010. Sam joined the ConocoPhillips research lab after completing a high-caliber PhD dissertation in the field of geophysics and mathematical physics at the University of Alberta. It was at CP that Sam’s research vision and diverse background in signal processing and imaging became a real asset for advancing modern seismic signal-processing paradigms. Sam has been a key member of the CP team that piloted efforts in the development of real-world applications of compressive sensing to seismic data acquisition and reconstruction.

Biography Citation for the J. Clarence Karcher Award 2013

Contributed by Mauricio D. Sacchi and Tadeusz J. Ulrych


Sam T. Kaplan is a young scientist who has made numerous and important contributions to the field of exploration seismology and, therefore, we applaud this well deserved recognition. Sam received his undergraduate training from the University of British Columbia, where he pursued a BSc in geophysics and mathematics. After the completion of his BSc degree, Sam joined Ulrych’s research group (also at UBC) to pursue an MSc in exploration seismology. It was at UBC that Sam started to develop a strong background in diverse subfields of seismic signal processing. Sam brought new light to the old problem of homomorphic signal processing by proposing a stable and robust method for phase unwrapping and solving an elusive, 30-year-old problem. Sam worked on applications of independent component analysis (ICA) to seismic data processing, and developed applications of ICA for random and coherent noise attenuation and deconvolution. In addition, Sam developed denoising strategies based on eigenimage processing well ahead of today’s interest in rank reduction methods for denoising and seismic signal recovery.

After completing a splendid MSc thesis at UBC, Sam become engaged in the development of a new generation of multiple suppression codes with Art Weglein at the University of Houston. Sam was a research scientist with Weglein’s group from 2004 to 2006, working under the auspices of the M-OSRP consortium. In this position, Sam coded important components of M-OSRP software. While at M-OSRP Sam also invented an adaptive subtraction algorithm based on blind source separation and ICA . In 2006 Sam began to undertake a PhD at the University of Alberta under the auspices of SAIG (Signal Analysis and Imaging Group). Sam continued with his creative career by working on a diversity of new problems in seismic data processing and imaging. Sam developed wave-equation least-squares migration algorithms for seismic data reconstruction, and explored the field of multidimensional signal recovery via sparsity-promoting techniques and compressive sensing methods.

Despite his youth and relatively short time in the industry, Sam assumed a position of notoriety in the seismic signal processing community as a scientist with an unseen flexibility for working on new problems. The work described above nicely describes Sam’s impressive breadth. He has developed algorithms, published articles and conference proceedings covering classical problems in signal processing (deconvolution, SNR enhancement, wavefield separation), and successfully navigated modern problems in seismic data processing, such as imaging via least-squares migration, processing via ICA methods, compressive sensing for acquisition design and sparsity-driven algorithms for seismic data representation. This is an impressive collection of subfields that show the incredible realm of Sam’s contribution to our community.

We are pleased that this exceptionally talented young colleague – and his dynamic work that spans broad subfields of seismic data exploration – has been recognized with SEG highest award for young geophysicists. From the preceding narrative, it can be seen that Sam has amassed an exceptional record as a researcher. However, Sam is not only a talented young geophysicist, he also is a great person. His modesty is deeply entangled with collegiality and makes him a member of our society whom we are all proud to have as a colleague.

On a personal note, Sam has been our student and now a colleague and friend, and it is indeed a great honor to be asked to write his citation for this award.