Dr. William (“Will”) Monroe Rust, Jr. was born January 17, 1907, in Liberty, Texas. He received a BA in 1928, MA degree in 1929, and a PhD in mathematics in 1931 from Rice Institute (now University), Houston, Texas. Rust was awarded a Fellowship at Rice for the interim 1928-1931, and he went on to become an Instructor in Mathematics at Rice, 1931-1932. He was an International Exchange Fellow at the Charlottenburg Polytechnic Institute, Berlin, Germany, 1932-1933, and an Instructor and Tutor in Mathematics, Harvard University, 1933-1934. He returned to Harvard in 1960 while attending the Business School’s Advanced Management Program.
Dr. Rust joined Humble Oil & Refining Company in 1934 as a Research Geophysicist and was made Head of Geophysics Research in 1937, which included a special assignment in 1949 as an observer in the Research and Technical Services Departments of the Baytown Refinery. In 1955 he became Assistant Chief Geophysicist and in 1961 became Exploration Administrative Manager. This culminated in his becoming Manager of the Exploration Data Processing Center for Humble Oil & Refining Company. His retirement date from the Humble Company was August 31, 1969.
He was married to Margaret Sue, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. John O. Sue of Houston, in 1936.
During the time of his Humble Oil & Refining Company work Will Rust managed to be involved in many other activities. He was consultant to Division II of the National Defense Research Committee that dealt with subterranean explosions. He was Humble’s representative under contracts to the Radiation Laboratory at MIT, with the Committee on Radiowave Propagations for the Office of Scientific Research and Development, and with UT-Austin. On these projects he was responsible for work ranging from the study of radar components to plane-to-plane fire control. He was sent to the American Steel & Wire, a United States Steel Company organization, to develop a stronger steel rope. He suggested that alternate strands of the rope be wound in alternate directions for greater strength. It worked and is still working today.
During his Humble Company years he developed 12 patents involved electric logging, radio navigation surveying, interpretation of seismic signals, and measurements of electrical impedence of the earth.
Dr. Rust was active in a number of geoscience organizations and he served as Secretary-Treasurer 1942-1943, Vice President 1943-1944 and President 1944-1945 of the Society of Exploration Geophysicists.
During the time he was President of the Society of Exploration Geophysicists he was involved with the Federal Communications Commission and he helped establish a Petroleum Radio Service that eventually was merged with the American Petroleum Institute Central Committee on the use of Radio and Radar.
After retirement from Humble Oil & Refining Company in 1969 Will and Margaret Rust moved to Austin, and Dr. Rust became a Lecturer in the Department of Geological Sciences. As both a Lecturer and as a consultant he helped the University establish a growing geophysical program. He was made Adjunct Professor of Geological Sciences in 1972 and held this title until his death. Significant to Dr. Rust’s tenure at UT-Austin is that, at his request, he never was paid a salary.
Will Rust was a leader in the development of the undergraduate geophysics option in the Department of Geological Sciences and in the initiation of a visible graduate program in geophysics. The undergraduate geophysics curriculum emphasized fundamentals in physics, chemistry, mathematics and geology with exposure to the blending of these disciplines in exploration geophysics and whole earth geophysics. He promoted a close liaison with industry and introduced the popular course in geophysical interpretation in which the leading exploration geophysicists from industry were invited to provide a diverse and current view of the science and technology of applied geophysics.
Will Rust died in Austin, Texas, Thursday, September 24, 1987 at the age of 80.