EAPS and MIT celebrate the birthday of M. Nafi Toksöz. whose work in seismology and imaging launched the influential Earth Resources Laboratory and inspired a new generation of scientists.
This past May, geophysics alumni Dan Burns PhD '87, Chuck Peng PhD '94, Ken Tubman PhD '84, Mark Willis PhD '83, and Jie Zhang PhD '97 joined forces to help reunite over 60 alumni, current and emeritus faculty, and friends to celebrate the 85th birthday of beloved Emeritus Professor Nafi Toksöz. In their former college town, guests reconnected, sharing heartfelt and funny stories about their advisor and his unfailing support and generosity. Many alumni credited their career successes to their years in MIT's Earth Resources Laboratory (ERL), which Toksöz founded in 1982 and led until 1998. Toksöz's achievements in ERL include seismic exploration for hydrocarbons, full-wave sonic logging, rock physics, vertical seismic profiles, seismological applications for the Apollo program, electroseismic/seismoelectric, and earthquake seismology.
"ERL was like a big family with Nafi at the head", said Burns who acted as MC, inviting attendees to recount their favorite memories of their beloved supervisor and colleague.
Together, event co-organizers along with Neil Goins PhD '78, Xiaojun Huang PhD '03, Dave Johnston '73, PhD '79, Don Paul '67, SM'69, PhD '77, Delaine Thompson Reiter PhD '93, and Sean Solomon PhD '71 helped paint a picture of ToksözS priceless mentorship. Stories about Toksöz's penchant for fast cars and pipe-smoking (as a way of delaying delivery of painful truths about research plans) elicited much laughter. Yvonne Tsai '78 spoke on behalf of the many Baker House students who had benefited from having Toksöz and his late wife Helena as their caring housemasters from 1969-1980. EAPS Department Head Rob van der Hilst spoke warmly about ERL and the invaluable advice and wisdom Toksöz, who has mentored over 100 graduate students and postdocs and served on numerous elite committees, shared with him over the years.
As the evening concluded, Tubman thanked all for coming and encouraged his peers to show their appreciation for Toksöz by making a gift to the M. Nafi Toksöz Fellowship Fund. "Let's double the Toksöz Fund so that it will support a graduate student for a full academic year!"
Jie Zhang PhD '97 Nafi Toksöz, Ken Tubman PhD '84, Chengbin Peng PhD '94 (Credit: Vicki McKenna)
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