Yanghua Wang

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Yanghua Wang
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SEG Reginald Fessenden Award 2023

Yanghua Wang, now a chair professor of geophysics at Imperial College London with earlier leadership positions at Robertson Research International, has made extensive contributions in seismic attenuation (Q) and inversion and is the author of more than 130 technical papers. Among these, his contributions in seismic amplitude tomography and in seismic multiple suppression have earned him recognition from his peers. His contributions have clarified our understanding of how seismic waves travel through real rocks while undergoing irreversible energy loss.

Biography Citation for the Reginald Fessenden Award

by Sven Treitel

It is with particular pleasure that I write this citation for my friend and colleague Yanghua Wang, who is being honored with an SEG award made for a particularly significant contribution to exploration geophysics. Yanghua has devoted several decades of his distinguished career to the study of the physics of stress wave attenuation in rocks. Early on in seismic exploration, it was realized that seismic waves traveling through rock formations undergo irreversible energy loss that deforms the seismic signal and tends to make seismic interpretation more complex. Our best minds have been struggling with these issues for decades, and it is precisely in the areas of seismic energy loss in rocks and the related field of seismic inverse methods that Yanghua has contributed his most important work. He did this both in the form of a series of papers as well as in several of his books. His monograph Seismic Inverse Q Filtering published in 2008 has become a classic reference in the field of exploration geophysics.

Yanghua is a cofounder of the Journal of Geophysics and Engineering, which has been gaining increasing recognition in the field of applied geophysics, especially since it became fully open access. I should also add that it is due in considerable part to Yanghua’s efforts that the viscoelastic wave equation, which during my own student days was considered a poor representation of lossy seismic wave propagation in real rock, has once again regained respectability in the seismic modeling world. There are many other areas where Yanghua has made very significant contributions. Among them, we find his innovative treatments of geotomography and his efforts geared to mitigate seismic multiple reflections.

Yet, in spite of the variety of technical problems he has attacked during his long geophysical career, Yanghua has never allowed his research to interfere with teaching commitments at Imperial College London, where he has been a professor of geophysics since 2004. There, he soon founded the Centre for Reservoir Geophysics, sponsored by major oil and service companies, where he also trained an impressive number of gifted students. Still later, in 2019, a substantial industry grant enabled him to establish the Resource Geophysics Academy. Yanghua was appointed the principal and director of this academy at Imperial College London.

Yanghua is a native of China. He completed his undergraduate degree in geophysics there in 1983. Following several years of employment at an exploration institution in China, he earned a master’s degree from Monash University in Australia and a PhD from Imperial College London. He then took up a position as head of research and development at Robertson Research International in Australia and the United Kingdom. He remained with them until he began his academic career at Imperial College London. He was awarded the European Association of Geoscientists and Engineers’ Conrad Schlumberger Award (2021) for his leadership in geophysical engineering. He received the Lifetime Achievement Award (2021) from the Chinese Geophysical Society. In 2021, Yanghua was elected as a privileged fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering