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Outstanding GSH Volunteer
The many social and technical opportunities offered by the Geophysical Society of Houston (GSH) for the geophysical profession of Houston and beyond are due largely to many dedicated volunteers. The GSH wants to recognize some of these dedicated volunteers and will do so through this series of articles where we will present a monthly selected volunteer and provide our readers with some of the volunteer's professional and volunteer background.
This is a special article in the Volunteer Recognition series. We are recognizing the many volunteer efforts of Mike Graul for the GSH, and we are also recognizing Mike as the special honoree of this month’s GSH Spring Symposium where he will be honored for his many professional accomplishments. You should attend the Spring Symposium because, in addition to two days of high-quality presentations on the advancements in computing technology in the geophysical arena, a special entertaining Toast and Roast presentation by Peter Duncan will describe the many escapades of Mike Graul.
Mike Graul was born in New York City and grew up in upstate New York. Mike attended Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) where he earned a BS in geology with a geophysics option; he chose the geophysics option because he preferred differential equations over micropaleontology. After college, Mike joined Chevron and then traveled south of the Mason Dixon Line for the first time. One of his first assignments was working on a seismic crew in the swamps of South Louisiana; Mike got little sleep when he discovered that alligatorsdo live in the United States. The next 3 years were spent traveling across the United States on a variety of Chevron’s seismic field crews in some of the most romantic Texas towns: Sherman, Snyder, Big Spring, and Midland. This exciting tour included Wibaux and Billings, MT and Minot, ND; after which he explored big city life in Denver and New Orleans, where he got his training in analog processing. He was assigned to the Chevron research facility in La Habra, CA where he assisted in the design of analog processing devices including a correlation device for statics and another analog device for the migration of seismic data (!), also used for processing in New Orleans.
The Applied Research division moved into the digital age and also to Houston, TX.His research efforts were focused on developing techniques in seismic signal processing. His work in complex trace analysis, Radon filtering, and array analysis have been in use for over 30 years. Houston becameMike’s permanent home, where he spent the remainder of his 24-year career with Chevron.
In 1980, Mike established Exploration Education Consultants, anorganization that enhanced the calling for which Mike is most renowned throughout the industry, i.e. teaching. He has taught public and private classes for many companies and organizations, enlightening thousands of students in both professional and academic settings. His recent teaching topics have been focused on AVO, azimuthal processing and various technical aspects of seismic processing and acquisition, always with a liberal sprinkling of the fundamentals of convolution, correlation, and Fourier analysis. His co-instructors have been some of the most highly regarded geophysicists in our industry. Mike has taught graduate courses at the University of Houston and Rice University and has lectured or presented short courses at many other universities. He has served on the faculties of both the University of Texas and the University of Houston. He’s developed courses in Deconvolution, AVO, and Static Corrections for the SEG Continuing Education Program, some of which are still being taught after many years. Mike currently writes a monthly technical article for the GSH Journal. These articles have also been published in two volumes: Tutorial Nuggets The Book and Tutorial Nuggets Book II.These articles have a profoundly unique style that highlights Mike’s ability to explain complex subjects with a penchant for humor that makes learning very entertaining. I am but one of many that have been the subject of his humor, and I am sure that many of you have as well. We should combine our efforts to solicit a portion of his income from teaching.
In 1986 Mike formed Texseis, Inc. with Cheri Williams(formerly of Chevron). Texseis, Inc. provides full-service 2D and 3D seismic processing. Mike still serves as the president and owner of Texseis, Inc. today.He also served as a consultant to the Bureau of Economic Geology in the development of processing techniques for the implementation of Bob Hardage’s SvP converted wave applications. He has frequently been called as an expert witness on geophysical matters, one off occasion involving the South African government in which his co-expert for 6 years was Ted Ulrich – an unequaled experience.
Mike married his wife, Susan, who also worked at Chevron, in 1974. They have four children, a geophysicist, a doctor, a lawyer, and an engineer. Mike and Susan have 14 grandchildren.
In addition to a well known professional career, Mike has also become renowned for his generous volunteer efforts for the GSH and other organizations. While still at Chevron Mike became Chair of the Education Committee of the GSH where he worked to establish various curricula for the local geophysical community. His efforts toward the GSH were recognized when he was elected 1st VP of the GSH in 2006. He later was voted President-Elect in 2008 and then served as President of the GSH in 2009-10. He later served the GSH as one of its SEG Section Representatives. However, Mike’s efforts did not end after the completion of his duties; in 2010 he worked with Lee Lawyer and others to initiate the publication of the GSH Journal. In 2011 Mike became Chair of the GSH Webinar Committee and helped initiate the very popular GSH Webinar series. In this effort Mike realized that students in a class would be far less distracted if they did not have to look at his face; in a webinar, the students could concentrate on the screen and the subject matter and lessen the stomach distress by not seeing Mike. To prove the concept Mike and Fred Hilterman presented the first GSH Webinar in 2011 on the subject of AVO. This presentation was very successful and also provided the opportunity for students from all over the world to partake in the online presentation without having to incur travel costs. The GSH continues its very popular webinar series today. The webinars have also provided a very critical source of income for the GSH. Mike’s presence continues to provide the GSH with valuable wisdom and experience in all aspects; from providing valuable education, networking, and socializing opportunities for the geophysicists of Houston.
When asked why he volunteered for the GSH, Mike said that he gained as much from his efforts as did those on the receiving end. As many teachers would recognize, there is much to be gained from preparing lessons for class presentations. Maybe the teacher persona also explains why Mike gets satisfaction from helping others in multiple ways, e.g. providing technical advice in the organization of many GSH technical events, improving deliverables for GSH members, etc. Mike loves to see students do well, and he enjoys having a positive influence on them. He also enjoys making things funny; life is too short not to enjoy things.
Mike says that there are many opportunities for GSH members to improve themselves while raising their volunteer efforts. Hesuggests that members come to the GSH Board Meetings to see how things are run and what the needs are; then maybe you will find the perfect slot for yourself.
Being honored at the upcoming GSH Spring Symposium is not a new experience for Mike. After serving as Chair of the Education Committee for the SEG, he served as 1st VP. In 2013-15 Mike was elected as the first Chair of the SEG Council, an international body representing the entire 33,000 membership. He is a Trustee of the SEG Foundation and in recent years has received the Special Commendation Award, the prestigious Honorary Membership award, and the Life Membership award from the Society of Exploration Geophysicists. In addition to the GSH officer positions that he previously held, he received the GSH Honorary Membership Award in 2004 and the Life Membership Award in 2013.
The GSH has benefitted greatly from its association with Mike Graul and continues to do so. His generosity with both his time and dollars has helped the GSH provide many benefits to its members and other geophysicists worldwide. The next time you see Mike, be sure to thank him for all that he has done for the GSH. Better yet, attend his Roast and Toast at the GSH Spring Symposium and after toasting him, share some of the embarrassing stories about Mike, of which there are many. Thanks, Mike.