To kick off the Earth Resources Laboratory’s (ERL) annual consortium meeting on May 28, 2013, corporate sponsors and alumni of the Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences (EAPS) gathered in the newly renovated headquarters of the ERL to honor its founder, Nafi M. Toksöz.
The evening began with a lively reception in the ERL’s new headquarters, replete with flexible meeting spaces, writer-friendly glass chat boards, and offices for 25 faculty, staff, and students. The renovations were funded in part by the generosity of Shell, who donated the state-of-the-art AV system, and longtime EAPS supporters, Norman PhD '67 (XIX) and Madeleine Gaut. The Gauts had one stipulation: the ERL’s main seminar room had to be named in honor of Toksöz. "For me, Nafi epitomizes the best of MIT: innovative, student oriented, self-effacing, hardworking, brilliant,” said Gaut. “Anything Madeleine and I can do to support and honor such people, we feel privileged to do so. Naming the ERL seminar room after Nafi just seemed the least we could all do for such a long time MIT/EAPS leader."
The official program began with the dedication of the M. Nafi Toksöz Seminar Room. The dedication came as a complete surprise to Toksöz who was delighted and visibly moved. But there were more surprises to come. Later that evening, Cecil and Ida Green Professor of Earth Sciences Brad Hager, ERL’s director and the evening’s master of ceremonies, announced that the M. Nafi Toksöz Fellowship Fund had met its goal by raising $1 million in endowed funds. The fellowship was created to celebrate one of the leaders in geophysics and his heart-felt mentoring of hundreds of students—both in EAPS and Baker House. At the $1 million level, the fund will provide financial support to at least one graduate student forever, helping EAPS and the ERL to continue attracting and nurturing the best and brightest.
The first M. Nafi Toksöz Fellowship recipient is third-year graduate student Lucas "Bram" Willemsen. Lucas received his BSc in earth sciences from Utrecht University and his MSc in mining and geotechnical engineering from Luleå University of Technology in the Netherlands. Here at MIT, he is working in the ERL developing new methods of seismic imaging, which will enhance oil and gas recovery and help advance the use of geothermal energy and carbon capture and sequestration. Because of the financial support he received from the Toksöz Fellowship, he was able to join the research group of Professor Alison Malcolm, one of the field’s most accomplished young scientists.
Established less than three years ago, the fellowship was made possible thanks to the generous support of more than 150 alumni and friends and the leadership of Wafik Beydoun PhD '85 (XII), Dan Burns PhD '87 (XII), Arthur Cheng SCD '78 (XII), Wenjie Dong, PhD '94 (XII, XII D), Cengiz Esmersoy EE '84 (VI), PhD '86 (VI), Chuck Peng PhD '94 (XII, XII D), Ken Tubman PhD '84 (XII), and Jie Zhang PhD '97 (XII D). It is also a testament to the devotion and respect engendered by one of EAPS’s most beloved faculty members. “I have always wanted to pay back MIT for the generous support I got when I was a graduate student,” said Cheng. “I am extremely grateful to Nafi for providing an opportunity for me at the ERL. This seemed like the best way to thank both.”
Lucas Willemsen, 2013 M. Nafi Toksöz Fellowship Fund Recipient: Meet Lucas "Bram" Willemsen, the first recipient of the M. Nafi Toksöz Fellowship, and hear from other members of the Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences (EAPS) and the Earth Resources Laboratory (ERL). Video credit: Helen Hill, Bernard Michini