Alumni Spotlights

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Dr. Ross Hill (MS Physics 73)N. Ross Hill, Senior Geophysical Advisor

Dr. Norman "Ross" Hill (MS Physics-Applied '73)  is one of the leading geophysicists at Chevron Energy Technology Company and indeed is a leader in the field worldwide. He was honored in the fall of 2004 by the Society of Exploration Geophysicists (SEG) with the Virgil Kaufmann Gold Medal. SEG has an international scope and is the principal organization for geophysicists working in exploration (mainly in industry) around the world. For close to 50 years, the Kaufmann Gold Medal has been its highest honor. The list of recipients is a Who’s Who in the world of exploration geophysicists. The description of the award reads as follows:  “The Kauffman Gold Medal is awarded to a person who, in the unanimous opinion of the Honors and Awards Committee and the Executive Committee, has made an outstanding contribution to the advancement of the science of geophysical exploration as manifested during the previous five years. The contribution may be of a technical or a professional nature.”  

After receiving his University of New Orleans masters degree, Hill went on to earn a Ph.D. in Physics from the University of Virginia in 1978. After a post-doctoral appointment at Georgia Institute of Technology and a one-year appointment as Assistant Professor of Physics at the University of Virginia, he began his career in Geophysics with Gulf Research and Development Company in 1980. He then served as an Associate Professor of Geophysics at Rice University where he was a W. M. Keck Foundation Scholar. He moved to Chevron Oil Field Research (Chevron had bought Gulf) as a Senior Research Geophysicist in 1986, just eight years after receiving his Ph.D. In 1995-96, on a year leave of absence, he was a Visiting Scientist at the Earth Resources Laboratory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He has continued to advance with Chevron and, since 1996, has been a Senior Geophysical Consultant. In 1996 he was honored with the Chairman’s Award of the Chevron Corporation and in 2004 he was appointed a Chevron Fellow.

Dr. Hill is credited with bringing the technique of Gaussian beams into seismic data analysis. He first developed two-dimensional post-stack and then pre-stack depth migration. He then succeeded in the difficult extension of the methods to pre-stack three-dimensional data. He managed to incorporate a deconvolution component which is able to remove multiple reflections, including those generated under salt bodies. In fact, his success in sub-salt imaging has made Chevron a leader in this area worldwide and has been a major factor in Chevron’s impressive deepwater Gulf of Mexico discoveries in the recent past. Dr. Hill has been awarded a patent for Gaussian Beam Migration and he is the holder of two additional patents.

Even though Dr. Hill’s research for Chevron is proprietary, thereby limiting what he can publish, his publication list contains outstanding contributions to the science ofgeophysics. In fact, his paper with D. Hale and J. Stefani in 1992, “Imaging Salt Turning Waves,” was given the best paper award by the journal Geophysics. He has published 25 journal articles and book chapters. His results and graphs developed for his UNO Master's thesis on deconvolution, a mathematical technique for extracting information from data, are still included in one of the most prominent books on the subject. Because he is a leader in the field, he is invited to give talks at leading universities and geophysical societies including to the Southeastern Geophysical Society, the Dan Tudor Lecture in Applied Geophysics at Indiana University, three invited talks at the SEG Annual International Meeting, and to the European Association of Geoscientists and Engineers.   

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