ERL and EAPS Announce First Class of ERL Fellows

January 24, 2019

Above (left to right): Inaugural ERL Fellows Dr. Dirk Smit, Dr. Ali Dogru, and Dr. Arthur Cheng ScD '78

The Earth Resources Laboratory (ERL) and the Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences (EAPS) at MIT have announced the recipients of a new fellowship honoring leading researchers in geophysics and related fields who have also been longtime friends and supporters of ERL. The first class of ERL Fellows, Dirk Smit, Ali Dogru, and Arthur Cheng, will be invited and encouraged to spend time on campus, pursuing work of their choice in collaboration with ERL students, researchers and faculty. Laurent Demanet—associate professor of applied mathematics with an appointment in EAPS 19 and director of ERL—and Robert van der Hilst—Schlumberger Professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences, and EAPS department head—envision these visits as opportunities for the fellows to contribute to ERL's research mission and offer mentoring and career guidance to students and postdocs.
“MIT is known for innovative interdisciplinary work that often begins with informal interactions among researchers,” says Demanet. “By including leaders from academia and industry in the day-to-day life of our lab, we hope to not only recognize their support but gain valuable perspective on the past, present, and future of our fields.”
Earlier this fall, van der Hilst convened a committee—with Xiaojun Huang PhD ’03 from ExxonMobil, Wafik Beydoun PhD ’85 from Total, and M. Nafi Toksöz, EAPS professor emeritus and ERL founding director—to choose the first set of fellows. In October, Bradford Hager—the EAPS Cecil and Ida Green Professor of Earth Sciences, and ERL associate director—announced the names at the 2018 Society for Exploration Geophysics Annual Meeting in Anaheim.

Dirk Smit

Dirk Smit is the Vice President for Exploration Technology and Chief Scientist Geophysics at Shell, and has been a visiting scientist in EAPS. He obtained his PhD in mathematical physics from Utrecht University in 1989 for work in string theory. After a postdoctoral appointment at UC Berkeley, Smit joined Shell in 1992, where his roles have included Chief Geophysicist for Shell UK and Technology Manager for Global Exploration. He was awarded the Ludwig Mintrop Award in geophysics by the European Association of Geophysicists and Engineers in 2002, and has been a member of the EAPS Visiting Committee to the MIT Corporation since 2014. His research interests include seismic acquisition, processing, and imaging; and more broadly the advancement of geoscience in industry.

Ali Dogru

Ali Dogru is the Saudi Aramco Fellow, a member of US National Academy of Engineering (NAE). He has been a visiting scientist at EAPS  since 2012. Dogru received his PhD in Petroleum Engineering/Applied Mathematics from the University of Texas at Austin in 1974. He spent his early career in academia until he joined Mobil R&D in 1982. In 1988, he transferred initially on a loan basis to Saudi Aramco and then later in 1996 he started working directly for Saudi Aramco, where he is now the  Saudi Aramco Fellow in charge of Advanced Computational Modeling. Dogru has published extensively throughout his career and holds twenty U.S. Patents. He has received SPE’s John Franklin Carll, Reservoir Description and Dynamics, Honorary & Distinguished Membership awards and World Oil’s Innovative thinker award. His current research is focused on developing next-generation parallel reservoir and basin simulators, to improve reservoir models and  optimize hydrocarbon recovery in mature fields, helping Exploration finding new oil and gas fields. 

Arthur Cheng 

Arthur Cheng ScD '78 is a professor of petroleum geosciences at the National University of Singapore (NUS). He received his PhD in geophysics from MIT in 1978 under Toksoz, for work on seismic waves in porous rocks. He stayed on as principal research scientist and became the project leader of the borehole acoustics and logging consortium. After an accomplished career in industry (1996-2014), Cheng returned to academia and became a professor at NUS. He is a former member of the EAPS Visiting Committee at MIT and was awarded a Life Membership from the Society of Exploration Geophysicists in 2013. His research interests include acoustic, elastic, and tube waves in boreholes; rock physics; anisotropy; and fracture physics.