Earth and Planetary Science
EPS Planetary Science

Earth And Planetary Science Alum Awarded 2017 SEG Karcher Award

Wednesday, August 9, 2017


The Society of Exploration Geophysicists gave this year’s Karcher Award to our recent alumna Jane Kanitpanyacharoen for her outstanding research on shale anisotropy. 

The last time this distinguished award came to Berkeley was 21 years ago when our Earth and Planetary Science colleague James Rector received it. 

Mineralogy seems quite far removed from exploration geophysics and yet, with former students like Jane, now a professor in the Geology Department of the University of Bangkok in Thailand, fascinating links became established between microstructures of minerals at the atomic scale and macroscopic properties relevant to hydrocarbon exploration. They created a lot of interest, leading to a wide range of collaborations. It is wonderful that her contributions to rock physics are acknowledged with the prestigious C. Clarence Karcher award.

Dr. Kanitpanyacharoen has had an extraordinary career: In 2003 she received the distinguished Royal Thai Government Scholarship that allowed her to come to the US, first for one year to the Miss Porter’s Boarding School in Connecticut, then to Duke University where she became interested in earth sciences and received a B.S. degree with distinction in Earth and Ocean Science. In fall 2008 she came to Berkeley, got immediately involved in research, concentrating on experimental mineral physics. Two first publications with her name on it appeared in 2010 and defined her directions: One was on elastic anisotropy linked to preferred orientation of phyllosilicates in fault gouge, shale and schist. The second one on deformation mechanisms in postperovskite at ultrahigh pressures, connecting diamond anvil cell experiments with seismic anisotropy in the lowermost mantle. In both fields she became engaged during her graduate studies, with 20 journal publications by the time she received her PhD in Earth and Planetary Science from the University of California at Berkeley in 2012.

In her four years at Berkeley, she worked on a broad range of topics. Her primary focus was the preferred orientation and seismic anisotropy in shales, including classical samples from Kimmeridge, Muderong, Posidonia and Qusaiba, studied with synchrotron diffraction, synchrotron microtomography and scanning electron microscopy, and then linking microstructures to macroscopic physical properties with advanced averaging models that take grain shapes and pore distributions into account. Other projects involved mineral reactions in concrete, microstructures in fault gouge, deformation mechanisms in metals at high pressure, covering a broad range of science, from experiments to theory. This is an amazing record, not only documenting her scientific excellence but also her outstanding capability of collaboration in interdisciplinary fields.

She continued with a Geophysics Postdoctoral Fellow at Stanford University before returning in 2014 to Thailand as Lecturer in Geology at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok. She received in 2015 the “Best PhD Thesis Award” from the National Research Council of Thailand. At Chulalongkorn Jane teaches mineralogy and structural geology, educates enthusiastic students who, just like her, continue graduate studies in the United States. She also maintains a research program, collaborating with colleagues in academia and industry. We are convinced she will go a long way in advancing our understanding of rock properties.