Waruntorn (Jane) Kanitpanyacharoen

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Waruntorn (Jane) Kanitpanyacharoen
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SEG J. Clarence Karcher Award 2017

Waruntorn (Jane) Kanitpanyacharoen is recommended for her work in rock physics. Kanitpanyacharoen received her PhD from the University of California, Berkeley, did postdoctoral work at Stanford, and presently holds a faculty position at Chulalongkorn University in Thailand. She was nominated most notably for her innovative work on characterizing the elastic properties of shales. In particular, she used x-ray diffraction and microtomography to make major contributions in understanding the mechanisms of shale anisotropy. Further, she has demonstrated remarkable breadth in the rock-physics world by publishing studies ranging from microdeformation mechanisms in the lower crust to the elastic properties of Roman concretes. With 24 peer-reviewed papers (eight as first author) and three papers published in Science, her publication record illustrates that she is a sought-after collaborator and skilled communicator.

Biography Citation for the SEG J. Clarence Karcher Award 2017 [1]

Mineralogy seems quite far removed from exploration geophysics and yet, with students like Waruntorn (Jane) Kanitpanyacharoen, fascinating links became established between microstructures of minerals at the atomic scale and macroscopic properties relevant to hydrocarbon exploration. They created a lot of interest, leading to a wide range of collaborations. Jane had a critical role as her long list of publications demonstrates, and it is wonderful that her contributions to rock physics are acknowledged with the prestigious J. Clarence Karcher Award.

Jane has had an extraordinary career. In 2003, she received the distinguished Royal Thai Government Scholarship that allowed her to come to the United States, first for one year to Miss Porter’s Boarding School in Connecticut, then to Duke University where she became interested in earth sciences and received a BS degree with distinction in earth and ocean science.

In fall 2008, she came to Berkeley and became involved immediately in research, concentrating on experimental mineral physics.

Two first publications with her name on them appeared in 2010 and defined her directions. One was on elastic anisotropy linked to preferred orientation of phyllosilicates in fault gouge, shale, and schist. The second direction was on deformation mechanisms in postperovskite at ultrahigh pressures, connecting diamond anvil cell experiments with seismic anisotropy in the lowermost mantle. In both fields, she became engaged during her graduate studies with 20 journal publications by the time she received her PhD in earth and planetary science from the University of California, Berkeley in 2012.

During her four years at Berkeley, she worked on a broad range of topics. The focus was preferred orientation and seismic anisotropy in shales, including classical samples from Kimmeridge, Muderong, Posidonia, and Qusaiba, studied with synchrotron diffraction, synchrotron microtomography and scanning electron microscopy, and then linking microstructures to macroscopic physical properties with advanced averaging models that take grain shapes and pore distributions into account. Other projects involved mineral reactions in concrete, microstructures in fault gouge, and deformation mechanisms in metals at high pressure, covering a broad range of science, from experiments to theory. This is an amazing record, not only documenting her scientific excellence but also her outstanding capability of collaboration in interdisciplinary fields.

She continued with a geophysics postdoctoral fellow at Stanford University before returning in 2014 to Thailand as lecturer in geology at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok.

In 2015 she received the “Best PhD Thesis Award” from the National Research Council of Thailand. At Chulalongkorn, Jane teaches mineralogy and physical geology, educating enthusiastic students who, just like her, continue graduate studies in the United States. She also maintains a research program, collaborating with colleagues in academia and industry. I am convinced she will go a long way in advancing our understanding of rock properties.

For me, this J. Clarence Karcher Award is a great example of the breadth of exploration geophysics, connecting many seemingly unrelated disciplines into a network to better understand some of our most important resources.




  1. (2017). ”Honors and Awards.” The Leading Edge, 36(10), 806–819. http://dx.doi.org/10.1190/tle36100806.1
  2. Whaley, J., 2017, Oil in the Heart of South America, https://www.geoexpro.com/articles/2017/10/oil-in-the-heart-of-south-america], accessed November 15, 2021.
  3. Wiens, F., 1995, Phanerozoic Tectonics and Sedimentation of The Chaco Basin, Paraguay. Its Hydrocarbon Potential: Geoconsultores, 2-27, accessed November 15, 2021; https://www.researchgate.net/publication/281348744_Phanerozoic_tectonics_and_sedimentation_in_the_Chaco_Basin_of_Paraguay_with_comments_on_hydrocarbon_potential
  4. Alfredo, Carlos, and Clebsch Kuhn. “The Geological Evolution of the Paraguayan Chaco.” TTU DSpace Home. Texas Tech University, August 1, 1991. https://ttu-ir.tdl.org/handle/2346/9214?show=full.