Susan Jane Webb
Susan Jane Webb is an Associate Professor in the School of Geosciences at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa . As a full-spectrum educator, not only does she supervise undergraduate, M.S., and Ph.D. students but she also leads her university’s geophysical field camp and collaborates with Pennsylvania State University in the AfricArray Partnership, using seismological stations throughout Africa as a basis to teach geophysics. On the personal level, Sue is known for patiently guiding students who come from an environment in which they are the first in their families to attend a postsecondary institution such as her university.
Biography Citation for SEG Outstanding Educator Award 2014
Contributed by Louise Pellerin
Sue Webb has been an educator as long as she has been a student and has often interchanged the roles. She received a B.S. in geophysics at the State University of New York–Binghamton (SUNY) in 1986 and an M.S. in geophysics from Memorial University of Newfoundland, Canada, in 1992. During that time, she worked as a teaching and research assistant, nurturing her tremendous skills as an educator. A position at Gold Fields of South Africa started her on a lifetime adventure across the globe. After four years, she joined the School of Geosciences at the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) as a lecturer. She completed a Ph.D. there in 2009 and became a senior lecturer in 2010.
Wits is a university with aspects that well complement Sue — a long-respected tradition in mineral exploration and teaching students from extremely diverse backgrounds. Sue can switch from working with a graduate student on a complex geophysical problem to patiently explaining a very simple computer hurdle to an inexperienced student with ease and grace. She is the driving force behind the AfricaArray Geophysical Field School, where she not only teaches the principles of data acquisition but also how to feed and take care of yourself in the bush.
Being an educator doesn’t stop at the university, however. As the SEG Middle East and Africa Honorary Lecturer, Sue was an outstanding role model for women and men alike. As the lead on a Geoscientists Without Borders project, helping to find water at a rural school outside Johannesburg, she served to inspire children and to teach them about the earth. She has given South African radio and television interviews to educate the general public about current earth-science events.
Sue’s enthusiasm for the earth sciences is contagious, her energy is unbridled, and her laugh is appreciated by all who know her. All these aspects make Sue an outstanding educator and a fitting recipient of the first SEG Outstanding Educator Award.
- University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg: Faculty
- SEG Honors and Awards Ceremony in Official Program and Exhibitors Directory, SEG Denver 26-31 October 2014 p.36-49.