In presenting this citation, I cannot help but recall the apocryphal story of the young man who breathlessly entered the church as a couple was about to be married, and rasped out, "No, no! Stop! Please, don't let this happen!" But, it has happened, it is not stopping, and we are here to celebrate the presentation of the John C. Griffiths Teaching Award to Ian Lerche. Much as Griffiths pioneered the application of quantitative methods to a variety of geological and economic topics, Ian pioneered the application of inverse methods to a variety of geological, geochemical, basin analysis, thermal history and economic problems. However, his many achievements in the geosciences are only half of his professional story. He did his Ph.D. degree in theoretical astrophysics at the University of Manchester and taught 15 years in the Astronomy and Astrophysics Department at the University of Chicago. Suddenly, in 1981, he shifted careers and disciplines when he joined Gulf Research and Development Company. Since then he has conducted and published research in both geosciences and astrophysics.

Ian is a prodigious worker and a prolific publisher. He has over 700 research articles to his credit, of which about half are in the geosciences and the other half in astrophysics. He also has published 17 single- or co-authored books on a variety of geological topics and risk analysis. Unfortunately, at least from the standpoint of education and teaching, not a single person in the world has read all these articles; not even Ian.

One possible explanation for his almost unbelievable productivity is that he sleeps only three hours a night. Being a systematic person, he makes sure that he gets some writing done each day. So, he rises very early and limbers up for writing by painting a room or two. Then he writes until about 7AM, when he leaves for work. This is a constant source of friction with his ever-suffering wife, Kathleen, because she lives in a surprise house that has been repainted once a week.

The point of all this is that his immense scientific output is a main ingredient in his teaching. He teaches by example. During the course of their graduate studies, Ian encourages (maybe this is too gentle a term) his students to publish their in-progress work. Many of his papers are co-authored with his students and former students. I'm sure this is valuable knowledge and skill he imparted to them as they launched their own careers.

In the spirit of Karl Popper, Ian also teaches by attempting falsification. He has an uncanny ability to listen to a qualitative, in-depth discussion about some geological topic until he understands that piece of science. Then he formulates equations that seem to represent the behavior of that particular system. Once, I moderated a three-day session of scientists to condense expert knowledge about carbonate systems into some rules of thumb so that we could then formulate some mathematical models of that system. The goal was to then build a stratigraphic model capable of simulating these systems. Ian was one of the participants and a few weeks after the conference he sent me a long type-script paper outlining a possible model approach with numerous partial differential equations that might prove a usable starting point. He is famous among his students for taking this approach toward multiple ideas and topics, and then demanding that they show him what is wrong with the equations. He has a healthy and skeptical attitude about the formulation of equations that presume to describe the behavior of some natural system; he treats them all as empirical and modifiable through experience. Perhaps this is why he has applied inversion to so many different topics.

His tenacity to quantifiy geology and falsify hypotheses leads him naturally to practice rigor and, therefore, teach rigor by example. He once modeled a water/gas system in Canada where there was supposedly water updip from gas. The client company proposed and was infatuated with a subtle diagenetic "water block" model. After modeling, Ian told them with a straight face that the barrier had a permeability of .0000000000001 md, about that of granite! They were happy in that he "proved" their theory. He was happy because they didn't ask him what that barrier had to be.

I've tried to identify other special qualities that have helped make Ian a great teacher and one comes prominently to mind: generosity. Ian is a very generous and caring person. On a professional level, he is amazingly fast in turning around a manuscript, thesis or proposal he received for review and comment. Often he completes this job the same day or the next that he receives a paper to review. Nearly all of his former students I contacted expressed their appreciation for his generosity in helping them this way. Maybe this is another explanation for his productivity.

I first became acquainted with Ian when we were beginning stratigraphic inversion. About 3 years after we began, he published a paper that said stratigraphic inversion was theoretically impossible because of the nonuniqueness problem. When he learned that we were attempting it anyhow and were having problems with the gradient descent method, he generously taught us another "pathfinder" method that he had previously devised. He has been helpful to us throughout our work, even though our work countered the conclusions he had previously reached.

On a personal level, Ian was always generous to students, regularly taking them into his house, loaning them his truck, sending them to conferences and so forth. He did not even get mad when a former student locked the keys in his truck and had to break into the truck to retrieve them. From the perspective of a stranger, Ian's generosity and caring character isn't always apparent, especially as Ian tends to use pejorative language more than most. One of his former students who had not seen Ian for several years was certain to see him at an AAPG meeting. He planned to "one up" Ian by cursing him as a greeting, much like Ian did when he was a student. However, when they saw each other, Ian got the first punch and shouted: "McKenna, you're fat and you're bald.

"Finally, I want you to know that Ian really appreciates this award. Upon learning that he was going to be presented with the Griffiths award, several friends and students wanted to celebrate with a dinner. However, it was Good Friday, and Ian said that there was not a restaurant in Columbia that would serve beer with dinner on Good Friday. Instead, he left work early and went home to paint the master bedroom as a means of celebrating. Monday morning he reported to class with a black eye, two broken thumbs, a rotated shoulder and cracked ribs. He had fallen down the basement stairs on his way to fetch more paint to finish the celebration. His only comment was "It seems that the Easter Bunny came to kick me."

Ian, it is a pleasure to recognize you as the 2002 John C. Griffiths Teaching Award winner. Congratulations.

T.A. Cross

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