James W. Rector

Research Interests
Exploration geophysics, Applied seismology, Machine Learning (oil & gas industry)

419 Davis

Office Hours

Mondays, 11 am to 12 pm; 1 pm to 2 pm

Rector headshot

James Rector is a Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at UC Berkeley. Rector’s research focuses on oil and gas reservoir geophysics, multichannel signal processing, borehole seismology, and MWD technology, including seismic while drilling. He also has an active interest in seismic unconventional reservoir characterization and hydraulic fracture monitoring and is a leader in near-surface seismology, including tunnel and void detection. Rector is a recipient of the prestigious Legends of Seismic While Drilling award from the Society of Petroleum Engineers in 2007 and the J. Clarence Karcher award from the Society of Exploration Geophysicists in 1996.


Ph.D., Geophysics, Stanford University, 1990

M.S., Exploration Geophysics, Stanford University, 1984

B.A., Mathematics, University of Wisconsin at Madison, 1981

Rector’s research focuses on near-surface geophysics, anisotropic imaging of borehole and surface seismic data, and wave propagation simulation. One of his current research activities is "amplitude-friendly" processing and imaging, with a particular emphasis on how to unravel the amplitude-unfriendly effects of the overburden. The research combines acquisition techniques (including borehole geometries), utilization of wave propagation simulation in heterogeneous, anisotropic, viscoelastic media, and seismic processing from "cradle" to "grave." 

Rector has an active role in the oil and gas industry, particularly in commercial technology development, with a background both as a developer and user of advanced technology. He led the development of a patented technology (6 U.S. patents) that exploited the sounds created by the drill bit during the drilling of a borehole to create high-resolution seismic images of the formations around the borehole.


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