Nigerian wins top geophysics award

A Nigerian, Dr Maxwell Azuka Meju, has been selected by the Society of Exploration Geophysicists (SEG) for the 2019 Reginald Fessenden Award, one of the highest prizes in exploration geophysics.

The Society of Exploration Geophysicists is headquartered in Tulsa, United States of America.

According to a notification of the award signed by the president of the society, Robert Stewart, Azuka Meju and Luis Gallardo were selected for the award for developing the cross-gradient joint-inversion method, an invention now widely used in academia and various industries.

Through the method, it is now possible, for the first time, to combine data from multiple unrelated phenomena to arrive at one consistent solution, thus reducing uncertainty in decision making with observational data.

Robert Stewart’s letter reads: “It is my privilege to notify you that by unanimous decision of the SEG Honors SEG Board of Directors, you and Luis Gallardo have been selected to receive the Society’s Reginald Fessenden Award. This honor is in recognition of your development of the current method of cross-gradient joint-inversion.

“The Reginald Fessenden award is given to a person who has made a specific technical contribution to exploration geophysics, such as an invention or theoretical or conceptual advancement, which in the opinion of the Honors and Awards Committee and the Board of Directors merits special recognition.”

“On behalf of the society, Congratulations on being selected to receive the Reginald Fessenden award. Your important contributions to the sciences and our profession are greatly appreciated.”

The award will be presented to Dr Azuka Meju in September at the annual conference of the society in San Antonio, Texas, United States of America.

Together with Luis Gallardo, his former PhD student, Azuka developed a new brand of mathematics for data fusion or for resolving conflict between uncorrelated models which they termed the ‘cross-gradient method’.

The theory and its application were published in 2003 and 2004, and are now used worldwide.

Dr Maxwell Azuka Meju is from Ogwashi-Uku, in Aniocha Local Government Area of Delta State. An alumnus of the University of Benin from where he graduated as the best graduating student in 1981, Azuka Mezu was the first student to be awarded a First Class honours degree in Geology at UNIBEN.

He attended Imperial College, London, where he obtained his Master’s degree in Geophysics in 1984, and moved to the University of Edinburgh in for his doctorate in Geophysics (specializing in geoelectromagnetism).

He received the Overseas Research Student Award in 1985 for “outstanding research potential” from the Committee of Vice Chancellors and Principals of United Kingdom (CVCP) London.

He joined the University of Leicester as a full-time lecturer in geophysics in February 1988, and in 1994 he published a classic textbook ‘Geophysical Data Analysis: Understanding Inverse Problem Theory and Practice’ now used in all undergraduate and postgraduate geophysics curricula worldwide.

Dr Meju was awarded the United Kingdom Bullerwell Prize (Geophysicist of the Year)in 1996 for outstanding leadership in geophysical inversion theory and practice, and for demystifying the mathematics of geophysics.

He was awarded the Gerald W. Hohmann International Prize for excellence in Applied Electrical Geophysics in 2002 for his landmark work on groundwater geophysics, an award presented in October 2002 at 72nd Annual International Meeting of Society of Exploration Geophysicists in Salt Lake City, Utah, USA.

He is currently with PETRONAS Centre for Advanced Imaging in Malaysia.