Tao Zhao

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Tao Zhao
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SEG J. Clarence Karcher Award 2023

Tao Zhao is a data science manager at SLB who demonstrates innovation and leadership in research and development of machine learning methods in seismic, wellbore, and geologic interpretations. Zhao is uniquely noted for his contributions to the Attribute-Assisted Seismic Processing and Interpretation Consortium software and for his 2015 Interpretation paper that describes data-driven methods to generate facies classification maps in different scenarios. Several nominators wrote that Zhao was instrumental in moving toward industrial adaptation to incorporate machine learning. As with many emerging professionals, he has contributed beyond oil and gas exploration to advancements in the characterization of foundations for wind-farm sites. One supporter highlighted the innovative nature of Zhao’s work and his tendency to create rather than reproduce. With more than 1000 citations, his work is recognized and considered foundational by the industry. He has also provided service to our profession as a deputy associate editor of Interpretation and as a member of 2022 International Meeting for Applied Geoscience and Energy Technical Committee.

Biography Citation for the J. Clarence Karcher Award

by Sumit Verma

Tao Zhao has consistently demonstrated exceptional innovation and leadership in research, specifically in the development of machine learning methods for seismic, wellbore, and geologic interpretations. Prior to his current role, Tao was a researcher at Geophysical Insights, where he contributed to the development of one of the industry’s pioneering commercial offerings that utilizes deep learning for seismic fault detection and facies classification.

During his time as a PhD student at the University of Oklahoma, Tao served as a lead machine learning geoscience researcher for the Attribute-Assisted Seismic Processing and Interpretation Consortium, earning recognition for his expertise in self-organizing maps. Tao’s contributions to the consortium software, along with his influential 2015 Interpretation paper titled “A comparison of classification techniques for seismic facies recognition,” which has received more than 250 citations to date, exemplify his significant impact in the field. With a prolific publication record in exploration geophysics, consisting of more than 50 articles and accumulating more than 1200 citations, Tao’s work has been widely recognized in reputable outlets such as GEOPHYSICS, Interpretation, The Leading Edge, and annual meeting abstracts.

In addition to his research achievements, Tao has made substantial contributions to SEG’s annual meeting technical programs for more than five years. He has served as an abstract reviewer and technical program session chair. As a member of the 2022 International Meeting for Applied Geoscience and Energy Technical Program Committee, he played a crucial role in organizing the machine learning and advanced data analytics program. One notable aspect of Tao’s work is his groundbreaking method to preserve the level of similarity among different facies-on-facies classification maps, significantly enhancing the industry’s understanding of geologic formations. Moreover, his expertise extends beyond the oil and gas sector, encompassing advancements in the characterization of foundations for wind-farm sites, highlighting his versatility and dedication to driving progress across disciplines.

Tao’s innovative research has garnered widespread recognition and respect within the industry, evidenced by the accumulation of more than 1200 citations. His work is considered foundational and has laid the groundwork for further advancements in the field of exploration geophysics.

Furthermore, he has generously shared his expertise and insights as a deputy associate editor of Interpretation. His dedication to fostering collaboration and facilitating knowledge exchange has had a lasting impact on the geophysics community.

In light of Tao’s exceptional contributions to the science and technology of exploration geophysics, his innovative mindset, and his unwavering dedication to advancing the field, he is highly deserving of the J. Clarence Karcher Award. It is with great pleasure that we recognize his remarkable achievements and eagerly anticipate his continued impact on the field of geophysics.