James W. Rector

James W. Rector

Exploration geophysics, applied seismology, Machine Learning in the oil and gas industry.

Office 419 Davis
Email jwrector@lbl.gov
Phone (510) 520-1071
Fax (510) 642-7476

Office Hours:

  • M 11-12, 1-2


My principal areas of research are in oil and gas reservoir geophysics and multichannel signal processing. Most of my early work was in  to borehole geophysics. Over the course of my career at Berkeley, I have broadened my research interests substantially. I have supervised students and published in a wide variety of subjects including near-surface geophysics, anisotropic imaging of borehole and surface seismic data, and wave propagation simulation. One of my current research activities  is "amplitude-friendly" processing and imaging. I am particularly interested in 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". I am also very active in Machine Learning as applied to oil and gas problems.  All my students need a fundamental understanding of signal processing, wave propagation, crustal geology, and all the basic math and science that goes with this. At Berkeley, I have taught graduate courses in Digital Signal Processing and Applied Seismology to geophysicists, geologists, civil engineers and mechanical engineers. 

I also maintain an active role in the oil and gas industry, particularly in commercial technology development. I have a unique niche, with a background both as a developer and user of advanced technology. I initially gained notoriety by leading 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. This technology was sold to Western-Atlas International where it became part of a suite of on-site products offered worldwide. Later, I founded another  startup (TomoSeis Corporation) in the oil field services sector that utilized a well-to-well geometriyto provide reservoir images that were an order of magnitude more detailed than conventional methods could provide. This company was sold to Core Laboratories in 1998. I I have also served as a senior consultant  for major oil & gas companies including Chevron, British Petroleum, Unocal, Weatherford International, Baker-Hughes, and Petroleum Geo-Services. In 1998 I founded Berkeley GeoImaging ('BGI') to exploit opportunities as a resource project qualifier, technology partner, and organizer of equity participation pools. Berkeley GeoImaging is active in oil and gas exploration in the lower 48 states. In 2014 I joined Petro River Oil / Petro Spring as Chief Technology Adviser.

In my free time, I play jazz piano and play competitive amateur golf (current index 3.8 and rising, ugh!). 


Ph.D., Geophysics, Stanford University, 1990
M.S., Exploration Geophysics, Stanford University, 1984
B.A., Mathematics, University of Wisconsin at Madison, 1981