Dr. Zhenya Zhu is Remembered by MIT ERL Community

By MIT Earth Resources Lab, Feb. 19, 2021

Dr. Zhenya Zhu(October 10, 1945 – January 29, 2021), a beloved member of our ERL community for more than 30 years, recently passed away from complications during a medical procedure.  We are all deeply saddened by this unexpected news.

Zhenya was a Research Scientist at ERL from 1991 until his retirement in 2015, and remained an active collaborator with ERL scientists as a Research Affiliate until his last days.  He was a great supporter of ERL, especially in the Lab’s interactions and collaborations in China, and he continued to serve as a liaison and ambassador for ERL even after his retirement.

Portrait of a man sitting at a kitchen table.

Prior to joining MIT, Zhenya served as an Assistant Professor at the Institute of Acoustics at Nanjing University from 1981-1991 where he was the Leader of the Full Waveform Acoustic Logging Group.  He received his undergraduate degree from the Department of Electronic Engineering at Sichuan University, and MSc and PhD degrees in acoustics from Tongji University in Shanghai, China.

Dr. Zhu originally came to ERL to help establish a robust acoustic scale modeling laboratory to support the Lab’s work in dipole logging in anisotropic formations.  Dr. Arthur Cheng and Dr. Xiaoming Tang were instrumental in helping to recruit Zhenya to join ERL under the leadership of Professor Nafi Toksoz.

From his initial work in dipole logging, Zhenya branched out into numerous physical modeling applications.  He became an internationally recognized leader in laboratory ultrasonics, borehole acoustic logging (including dipole logging, fracture effects, intrinsic anisotropy, stress effects, fluid flow, and logging-while-drilling), and seismoelectric applications in porous and fractured media.  His publication list is extensive and includes work in seismic scattering from fractures.  Zhenya enjoyed collaborating and partnering with colleagues in his work.

Beyond his amazing research leadership and breadth of knowledge, however, were his greatest gifts – that of a warm, compassionate, and generous teacher, mentor, and friend.  He was a mentor to generations of graduation students – taking time to help students learn to work in the lab, find a worthwhile research project for their general exam or thesis, or to answer questions about rock physics, wave propagation, borehole logging, or any other geophysical topic of interest.  In particular, Zhenya was a father figure to many of ERL’s Chinese graduate students and postdocs over his 30-year career at ERL, and he remained a revered and supportive friend to everyone he met.  He was a true gentleman and friend to all.

Zhenya was a happy, optimistic person.  He always saw the bright side of life and was willing to go the extra mile to help others. His smile, friendship, and hearty laughter will continue to echo through the walls of ERL.  Our Lab has lost a great friend and colleague but we are grateful for all he brought to our community and to the lives of his many, many friends.

Dr. Zhu’s Publications

Dr. Zhu’s obituary and guest book

Two men in business attire chat in a hallway.Dr. Zhu with Dr. Arthur C. Cheng at the MIT ERL Annual Founding Members Meeting in 2017.

Two men wearing name tags and holding drinks laugh together.Dr. Zhu with Dr. Niels Grobbe at the MIT ERL Annual Founding Members Meeting in 2017.