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OU Geoscience Faculty and Alumni Receive Prestigious Honors from SEG and AAPG

OU Geoscience Faculty and Alumni Receive Prestigious Honors from SEG and AAPG

Picture of Sarkey's Energy Center.

Picture of Sarkey's Energy Center.


Geophysics emeritus professor Kurt J. Marfurt, Ph.D., was awarded the prestigious 2023 Maurice Ewing Medal by the Society of Exploration Geophysicists. In addition to Marfurt's outstanding achievement, Tao Zhao, Ph.D., and Sumit Verma, Ph.D., also received esteemed honors. They will be recognized at SEG's annual meeting in August. OU alumna Deborah K. Sacrey was named president-elect by the American Association of Petroleum Geologists.

Picture of Kurt Marfurt, Deborah Sacrey, Tao Zhao and Sumit Verma.

Marfurt, renowned for his contributions to geoscience research, education and industry, has dedicated his career to advancing the field of geophysics. As the Frank and Henrietta Schultz Professor of Geophysics at the School of Geosciences from 2007 to 2021, Marfurt has been instrumental in shaping the study of seismic imaging, interpretation and data simulation. With an impressive body of work that includes over 800 papers, his research has revolutionized visualization techniques supporting seismic interpretation.

“Dr. Marfurt’s research, particularly his work on seismic attribute analysis, has made a significant impact on the field of geophysics and has revolutionized visualization in support of seismic interpretation,” said Gerilyn Soreghan, Ph.D., director of the School of Geosciences in the Mewbourne College of Earth and Energy.

Deborah K. Sacrey, an alumna from the School of Geosciences and the owner of Auburn Energy, will assume the role of president-elect at AAPG. Sacrey's company specializes in 2D and 3D seismic interpretation and the development and application of neural analysis of seismic attributes for prospect generation. With over 30 years of experience, she was previously awarded as a Distinguished Alumni from the Mewbourne College of Earth and Energy in 2020.

“Deborah distinguished herself at the University of Oklahoma, exhibiting extraordinary leadership and a true commitment to excellence in everything she does. AAPG will benefit greatly from her energy and enthusiasm,” said Mike Stice, Ph.D., Mewbourne College of Earth and Energy professor.

Tao Zhao, a geophysics graduate from the School of Geosciences, was honored with the J. Clarence Karcher Award for his significant contributions to the science and technology of exploration geophysics. Currently serving as a data science manager at SLB, a global technology company focused on sustainable energy solutions, Zhao has demonstrated exceptional leadership in developing machine learning methods for seismic, wellbore and geologic interpretations. His innovative work includes advancements in the characterization of foundations for wind farm sites, and his research has been widely recognized within the industry.

Sumit Verma, another geophysics graduate from OU, received the Outstanding Educator Award for his excellence in geophysics education. As an associate professor at the University of Texas Permian Basin, Verma has made substantial contributions to the field. He has taught various courses, guided graduate students and published multiple peer-reviewed papers. Verma's dedication to fostering student engagement is evident through his establishment of UTPB's SEG student chapter and his role as the supervisor for the Imperial Barrel Award effort. Additionally, he initiated the UTPB Geoscience Symposium and currently serves as the vice president of the Permian Basin Geophysical Society.

Congratulations to Kurt J. Marfurt, Deborah K. Sacrey, Tao Zhao and Sumit Verma on their well-deserved accolades. Their achievements reflect the University of Oklahoma's ongoing dedication to excellence in geophysics education and research.

Portrait of Sarah Warren.

About the Mewbourne College of Earth and Energy

The Mewbourne College of Earth and Energy improves people’s lives through research, education and service by studying Earth’s past and present, developing new energy tools and resources, and creating geoscientists and engineers who work across disciplines to address some of society’s most critical challenges.

Portrait of Sarah Warren.

Media Contact

Victoria Stephens is the marketing manager at the Mewbourne College of Earth and Energy. For media inquiries, you can email Victoria or call her at 405-325-8981.