This is an old revision of the document!

This page tries to answer the following questions:

  1. Why should I apply to SEP?” A student perspective.
  2. How do I apply?” Facts about the application process.

Why should I apply to SEP?

As you may have figured out from our homepage, SEP develops innovative solutions to problems in reflection seismology and related areas of geophysics.

Arguably, however, the defining aspect of SEP is that we are data-driven. Students here are free to work on pretty much any area of seismic reflection processing that they find interesting, as long as they show their work addresses a real problem and is applicable to field data. All SEP theses are required to be tested on real seismic data, and it is usually brought in at an early stage of a research project.

In order to work with field data, SEP has a very sophisticated computing environment - a lot of hardware, and a lot of software. We have LINUX clusters, workstations, and PC's for home use. We have an in-house UNIX-based data-processing library (SEPlib) which has been extended to deal with irregular 3D prestack data in a natural and efficient way, as well as a range of other utilities that are listed on our homepage. There's no way around it - computers play a very important role in SEP. You don't have to know that much about them when you arrive, but you'll learn quite a bit while you're here.

The emphasis on real data is popular with our sponsors, who consist mainly of oil companies, geophysical contractors, and computer companies. We write biannual reports and meet with them twice a year. This provides students a forum for exchange of ideas with experts, as well as contact with potential future employers. A long list of sponsors also allows SEP to fund its students very well, and send them to a lot of conferences and meetings.

All our research is fully reproducible in the true sense of the word. Most figures in any recent report or thesis can be regenerated totally from source code and raw data simply by clicking on a button in an electronic document. As well as being nice from a philosophy of science point of view, this also provides a great way of archiving work so it is readily available for other people, like new students, to use and build on.

There are a variety of challenging classes, both within the department and elsewhere in the University. Although the Department course requirements are listed in the Stanford Bulletin, you can take others you may find interesting - Stanford is a diverse university with world-class departments in everything from Computer Science to Modern Thought and Literature. Your research can take advantage of this diversity, too. Although SEP has had no joint projects with the Athletics department, there are ongoing research projects with other groups both within the department, like the Rock Physics group, or in other departments, like Petroleum Engineering.

SEP has a great history of pioneering in subjects like DMO, slant-stack, velocity estimation, 4D seismic, etc., as well as an impressive list of alumni.

Finally, Stanford and the Bay Area is a great place to live. The climate is fantastic! San Franciso is 45 minutes away by car or train, the Pacific is only 30 minutes away, and the Sierras (Lake Tahoe or Yosemite) are 3-4 hours drive.

  • Compare rainfall and temperatures with some of our friends in other places. :-D

How do I apply?

  • The Department has complete instructions on the application process which you should follow, but basically the first steps (for both a Master and PhD) are:
  1. Check the Stanford University's Graduate Admissions website and follow their instructions carefully.
  2. Contact Tara Ilich in the Geophysics Department at:
  3. Take the GRE general test. The tests do not require specialist knowledge.
  4. If English is not your first language, you may have to take an English test as well (TOEFL).

  • If you are accepted, you will be assigned an advisor during your first year in the Department. However, you are allowed to move to a different advisor/group later on. If you are interested in SEP, it may be a good idea to get in touch with Biondo Biondi directly at some stage (email:
  • There is no need to worry about funding - all first year students are fully funded by the Geophysics Department. If you are making progress, SEP will finance your tuition and living expenses in later years.

Stanford Exploration Project

Department of Geophysics | Stanford University | |

Page Maintainer:
Copyright © 2008 SEP.

/web/html/data/attic/sep/about/prospect.1216079653.txt.gz · Last modified: 2015/05/26 22:40 (external edit) Creative Commons License Valid CSS Driven by DokuWiki do yourself a favour and use a real browser - get firefox!! Recent changes RSS feed Valid XHTML 1.0