Tieyuan Zhu

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Tieyuan Zhu
Tieyuan Zhu headshot.png
MSc university Chinese Academy of Sciences Institute of Geology and Geophysics
PhD university Stanford University

Tieyuan Zhu, an assistant professor at Pennsylvania State University (PSU), has authored 20 peer-reviewed publications since receiving his doctorate degree in 2014, with 10 of those in Geophysics. Zhu is noted for his work in attenuation via viscoacoustic theory, Q-compensation in reverse time migration, and expertise in computational geophysics. At PSU, he is expanding the scope of his work to CO2 sequestration, ground-penetrating radar, and glaciology and has assembled an impressive list of collaborators. He is a previous Best Student Paper award winner. Tieyuan has established himself as a leader in applied geophysics through his research, extensive publication record, and collaboration with some of the world's leading scientists in the field.

Biography Citation for the SEG 2018 J. Clarence Karcher Award [1]

By Jerry M. Harris

Tieyuan Zhu combines theory, computations, and field data in a way that exemplifies the whole being bigger than the sum of the parts. His technical skills, along with his friendly demeanor, make him a powerful young scientist and set him apart from his peers. Beyond his many concrete technical achievements, Tieyuan is astonishingly productive and collaborative. He has written 20 peer-reviewed papers, has several more in the pipeline, and has worked with experts around the globe. He enthusiastically brings skills and a can-do work ethic to every problem he faces and collaboration he engages. I had the pleasure of being Tieyuan's doctoral advisor at Stanford University. I admired his work at Stanford and have continued to admire his work since graduation, first as a postdoctorate at the University of Texas and now as professor of geophysics at Pennsylvania State University (PSU).

Tieyuan came to Stanford with a master's degree from the Chinese Academy of Sciences Institute of Geology and Geophysics. I immediately recognized that he was well prepared and possessed a strong sense of curiosity. He was a fierce reader and early on would implement and test published algorithms about which he had just read. It did not take long for me to appreciate that he was not just another enthusiastic student, but instead a powerful and curious young researcher. He first began studying joint P-wave and S-wave traveltime inversion, then later traveltime and dispersion inversion for joint estimation of velocity and attenuation. This early exposure to dispersion tomography spawned his interest in attenuation and led to a series of abstracts and papers on constant Q modeling that culminated with a doctoral thesis on seismic Q modeling and reverse time-migration imaging. Tieyuan developed a sequence of novel strategies for modeling seismic wave propagation, including attenuation that circumvented challenges in existing time-domain approaches. The research that resulted in this sequence of papers began with a deliberate attempt to formulate, using fractional derivatives, a constant Q wave equation that decouples, albeit approximately, amplitude decay from dispersion effects.

This seminal paper was followed by publications on time-reversed propagation and Q-compensated reverse time migration applied to crosswell field data. He not only found attenuation interesting and challenging, he also recognized the need for Q analysis and compensation in exploration and other seismic applications. His publications have received a large number of citations and have revitalized an attenuation community of researchers. Following graduation, Tieyuan became the Distinguished Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Texas Jackson School of Geosciences, where he extended his doctoral work to anisotropy, surface seismic, and ground-penetrating radar.

Now at PSU, Tieyuan is continuing to broaden his experience with applications in seismic glaciology, near-surface characterization, and CO2 sequestration. The breadth and depth of his studies bodes well for research as well as teaching. His lectures and seminars are clear and engaging and often include theory, simulations, and field data to convey complex topics. His experience, knowledge, and style will serve students well. Moreover, Tieyuan's interests and commitment to excellence can be seen from his outstanding record of publications as well as his collaboration with other scientists.

Tieyuan is an outstanding young scientist with an unusually high potential for a bright future and successful career. He has established himself as a leading scientist who works at the intersection of tomography, seismic imaging, and Q models for attenuation. His interests and expanding range of experience and collaborations include petroleum exploration and production as well as near-surface environmental geophysics. I am confident in saying that Tieyuan embodies the attributes of the J. Clarence Karcher Award. On behalf of the community of researchers and collaborators who nominated him, it is a pleasure to write this citation.


  1. The Leading Edge Volume 37, Issue 11