Early Career Award
Information on the award
The Keiiti Aki Early Career Award is presented annually to an outstanding early career seismologist in recognition of their scientific accomplishments in the field of seismology. The award, which was established in 2008, honors the life and work of Keiiti Aki, a Japanese seismologist who developed a way to measure the strength of earthquakes. Successful nominees must have received their Ph.D. or highest equivalent terminal degree within six years of when the award year begins.
AGU is proud to recognize our section honorees. Recipients of the Keiiti Aki Early Career Award will receive the following benefits with the honor:
2Recognition in Eos
3Recognition at the AGU Fall Meeting during the award presentation year
- The nominee is required to be an active AGU member.
- The nominee must be primarily affiliated with the Seismology section.
- The nominee must have been awarded their Ph.D. or highest terminal degree in the six-year period preceding the beginning of the award presentation year.
- AGU Honors Program Career Stage Eligibility Requirement Allowance Policy: Exceptions to this eligibility requirement can be considered based on family or medical leave circumstances, nominees whose work conditions have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, or for other extenuating circumstances. All requests will be reviewed. Nominations can be submitted prior to the 1 April deadline. For questions contact [email protected].
- The following individuals are not eligible to be candidates for the award during their terms of service:
- AGU President;
- AGU President-elect;
- Council Leadership Team members;
- Honors and Recognition Committee members;
- Aki Award Committee members;
- All full-time AGU staff; and
- AGU Fellows.
- Nominators are required to hold an active AGU membership.
- The following individuals are not eligible to be nominators for the award during their terms of service:
- AGU President;
- AGU President-elect;
- Council Leadership Team members;
- Honors and Recognition Committee members;
- Aki Award Committee members; and
- All full-time AGU staff
- Individuals who write letters of support for the nominee are not required to be active AGU members.
- The following individuals are not eligible to be supporters for the award during their terms of service:
- AGU President;
- AGU President-elect;
- Council Leadership Team members;
- Honors and Recognition Committee members;
- Aki Award Committee members; and
- All full-time AGU staff
Relationships to a Nominee
The following relationships need to be identified and communicated to the Award Committee but will not disqualify individuals from participating in the nomination or committee review process. These apply to committee members, nominators, and supporters:
- Current dean, departmental chair, supervisor, supervisee, laboratory director, an individual with whom one has a current business or financial relationship (e.g., business partner, employer, employee)
- Research collaborator or co-author within the last three years
- An individual working at the same institution or having accepted a position at the same institution
Individuals with the following relationships are disqualified from participating in the award nomination process as a nominator or supporter:
- Family member, spouse, or partner.
Your nomination package must contain all of the following files, which should be no more than two pages in length per document. Watch our tutorial on successfully submitting a nomination package or read our guide on how to submit a successful nomination.
- A nomination letter that states how the nominee meets the selection criteria. It should include details about the nominee’s significant contributions to the field of seismology. Nominator’s signature, name, title, institution, and contact information are required and letterhead is preferred.
- A curriculum vitae for the nominee.
- At least one but no more than three copies of the nominee’s published or preprint manuscripts, which illustrate the nominee’s quality of work.
- At least one but no more than three letters of support. Supporter’s signature, name, title, institution, and contact information are required and letterhead is preferred. We encourage letters from individuals not currently or recently associated with the candidate’s institution of graduate education or employment.
Zachary E. Ross
Zachary E. Ross received the 2019 Keiiti Aki Early Career Award at AGU’s Fall Meeting 2019, held 9–13 December in San Francisco, Calif. The award recognizes “scientific accomplishments in the field of seismology.”
Zachary Ross received his B.S. in physics at the University of California, Davis; his M.S. in civil engineering at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo; and his Ph.D. at the University of Southern California. He then joined the California Institute of Technology Seismological Laboratory, first as a postdoc and now as a faculty member. Zach has emerged as an outstanding early-career seismologist who is taking earthquake science in important new directions. He is an exceptionally worthy recipient of the 2019 Keiiti Aki Early Career Award from the Seismology section of AGU.
The volume of seismological data is growing rapidly, fueled by the now standard practice of retaining continuous data and by the development and deployment of relatively inexpensive sensors. That growth is likely to accelerate for the foreseeable future—perhaps dramatically with the advent of fiber-optic seismology. Seismology needs new approaches to extract as much information as possible from these massive data volumes. Zach is playing a key role in developing those approaches and has made exceptional contributions to seismology in the process.
Zach took the powerful technique of template matching to a new level, matching digital earthquake waveforms from all known earthquakes against all available continuous seismic data in Southern California. To do this required a deep dive into graphics processing units (GPU) supercomputing and substantial adaptation of data storage and earthquake location algorithms. Through such efforts, Zach uncovered over a factor of 10 more earthquakes than appear in the SCSN catalog, and locally up to 50 times more—all of this in an already very well studied area. His paper will stand as a landmark contribution to earthquake seismology and is certain to be emulated by others around the world. The sort of data-intensive computing this contribution represents is an important part of seismology’s future. Speaking of which, Zach is among a handful of young scientists who are rapidly forging new pathways in observational seismology through the methods of machine learning.
In his short career, Zach has already made important contributions in diverse areas including fault zone imaging, earthquake triggering, the dynamics of earthquake sequences, and the study of foreshocks. The Aki Award properly recognizes the significance of these accomplishments, but also anticipates further outstanding contributions in the future.
—Gregory C. Beroza, Department of Geophysics, Stanford University, Stanford, Calif.
It is quite an honor to receive the Keiiti Aki Early Career Award from AGU. My career would not be what it is today without the many wonderful mentors and collaborators I have had the good fortune of working with. In particular, I would like to acknowledge Yehuda Ben-Zion, who among many things, taught me to embrace the complexity of earthquakes and faults. I am grateful to Jean-Philippe Avouac, Egill Hauksson, Greg Beroza, Hiroo Kanamori, Peter Shearer, Elizabeth Cochran, Daniel Trugman, and the many others who have contributed to my growth as a scientist. I also thank my family and friends for their support over the years.
Earthquake science is entering a remarkable period. Today we are acquiring vast amounts of high-quality data, yet we lack the capability to analyze more than a tiny fraction of them simultaneously. Seismologists routinely face barriers to addressing important science questions because basic seismic data processing, such as building a seismicity catalog from scratch, is an astonishingly difficult task. The trajectory of my own research program was heavily influenced by my frustration arising from these limitations. Our data sets are inherently high dimensional, and their richness is far from being fully understood. I am convinced that being able to better navigate and find structure in these data sets is the key to a better understanding of earthquakes and faults.
—Zachary E. Ross, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena
Lingling Ye will receive the 2018 Keiiti Aki Young Scientist Award at AGU’s Fall Meeting 2018, to be held 10–14 December in Washington, D. C. The award recognizes “scientific accomplishments in the field of seismology.”
Lingling Ye earned her bachelor’s degree in geophysics at the University of Science and Technology of China and her M.S. degree in geophysics from the Institute of Geology and Geophysics, Chinese Academy of Sciences. In 2015, she received her Ph.D. at the University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC), having received the UCSC Aaron C. Waters Award for the most outstanding Ph.D. proposal. She was a Director’s Postdoctoral Fellow at the California Institute of Technology Seismological Laboratory from 2015 to 2018. She is currently a visiting researcher at the Earthquake Research Institute of the University of Tokyo and a professor at Sun Yat-sen University, where she is a recipient of a Junior Thousand Talents Plan of China award.
Dr. Ye’s primary research areas are earthquake seismology and seismotectonics. All 37 of her peer-viewed publications, including 18 first-authored papers, have appeared since 2011. Her Ph.D. research addressed a diverse range of earthquake processes for large shallow and deep-focus earthquakes, including finite fault slip model inversions of seismic and geodetic data, stress transfer around faults, source parameter scaling, strong ground shaking hazards, and quantification of tectonic processes. A unifying theme of her work has been the energy release of large earthquakes, quantified by seismic waves and placed into the context of tectonic plate motions driving the earthquake deformation. She applies state-of-the-art analysis tools while innovatively developing new procedures for exploiting the rapidly expanding data sets available to geophysicists for quantifying earthquake processes. Her recent directions of research include new efforts in site response characterization, analysis of rupture initiation, and quantification of volcanic earthquake processes.
Early-career researchers seldom approach the level and breadth of creative accomplishments attained by Dr. Lingling Ye, and thus it is very fitting for AGU to recognize her contributions and future potential by her selection for the 2018 Keiiti Aki Young Scientist Award.
—Thorne Lay, University of California, Santa Cruz
I am truly honored to receive the Aki Award and to be placed in such outstanding ranks as those of the past awardees. I would not be receiving this award without many supportive and generous mentors, collaborators, and friends over the years, of whom I can only name a few here. Special thanks are due Thorne Lay and Hiroo Kanamori, not only for their incredible patience and excellent supervision for a student but also for infecting me with their passion for science and their love for seismology. I would also like to thank Keith Koper, Luis Rivera, Emily Brodsky, Nadia Lapusta, Jean-Philippe Avouac, Tom Heaton, Victor Tsai, and Kenji Satake for their inspiring collaborations and generous support of my research. I am also grateful for the supportive environments at University of California, Santa Cruz, the Seismo Lab at Caltech, and Sun Yat-sen University.
I feel fortunate to be an observational seismologist with extensive observations available to understand the fundamental physics of natural phenomena like earthquakes and volcanoes, thanks to the unselfish and open-minded seismology community and advances in observation techniques. It is the beauty of doing research to disentangle complicated observations with simple theory. As a personal belief, without definitive observational (seismological) evidence, geophysics leads nowhere. With the explosion of high-quality data, I look forward to continuing to work toward more understanding of our dynamic Earth.
—Lingling Ye, Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou, China
Lucia Gualtieri will receive the 2017 Keiiti Aki Young Scientist Award at the 2017 American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting, to be held 11–15 December in New Orleans, La. The award recognizes “scientific accomplishments of young scientists in the field of seismology.”
Lucia Gualtieri earned her B.Sc. and M.Sc. cum laude in physics from the University of Bologna (Italy) and a double Ph.D. degree from the Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris (France) and University of Bologna (Italy) in 2014. As a graduate student, she was the recipient of a Marie Curie Fellowship in the framework of the EU Initial Training Network QUEST (Quantitative Estimation of Earth’s Seismic Sources and Structure). Since 2015, she has worked at Lamont–Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University, where she holds a postdoctoral research fellowship in the Earth, environmental, and ocean sciences.
Lucia works on a variety of topics, such as seismic tomography, ambient seismic noise, and seismic signals due to mass-wasting events. Lucia’s research encompasses theory, computational simulation, and data analysis and makes use of different geophysical data sets (notably, seismic and oceanographic data sets). During her Ph.D., she did some original work on the understanding of the generation mechanism of ambient seismic noise, contributing to showing how ocean wave models can be used deterministically to predict the time–space varying spectrum of seismic ambient noise. She has obtained novel results that clarified theoretical fundamental issues about the generation mechanisms of seismic ambient noise and the coupling between the oceans and the solid Earth. As a postdoctoral fellow, she expanded her research interests and started working in another interdisciplinary field, the characterization and modeling of seismic signals generated by mass-wasting events.
Lucia is an excellent young scientist who has made significant contributions to the understanding of the time–space varying spectrum of seismic ambient noise. She is a worthy choice for the Keiiti Aki Young Scientist Award, which recognizes the significance of her early-career accomplishments and anticipates further outstanding contributions in the future.
—Eléonore Stutzmann, Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris, Paris, France
I am humbled to receive the 2017 Keiiti Aki Young Scientist Award, and I thank the section for this recognition. I have always been impressed by the breadth of Keiiti Aki’s pioneering work and inspired by his skill in combining observations and theory. It goes without saying that it is an incredible honor to receive this award bearing his name. It is also a great privilege to be put in the company of the previous recipients of the award.
I am truly grateful to my family, friends, and colleagues who have contributed to my personal and scientific growth so far. In particular, I would like to thank my Ph.D. advisor, Eléonore Stutzmann, for her constant guidance and for motivating me to pursue exciting research, and my Ph.D. co-advisor, Andrea Morelli, for providing me with my very first look at seismology and with continuous support throughout the years. I would also like to thank Göran Ekström, my postdoctoral advisor, for giving me freedom to develop my own ideas and for helping me to grow as a scientist. I was very fortunate to be a Ph.D. student within the framework of the EU Initial Training Network QUEST, which gave me the opportunity to establish several international connections and meet many colleagues around the world. I am grateful to all of them.
I consider myself privileged to have had the opportunity to work in different countries and institutes, and to have been often challenged to get out of my personal and scientific comfort zone. The research I have been doing often overcomes the boundaries of traditional seismology and brings me into contact with people in diverse fields. I believe that interdisciplinary research involving seismology and other fields in geophysics will have the potential to substantially advance our knowledge of the Earth moving forward.
—Lucia Gualtieri, Princeton University, Princeton, N.J.
Zhongwen Zhan will receive the 2016 Keiiti Aki Young Scientist Award at the 2016 American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting, to be held 12–16 December in San Francisco, Calif. The award recognizes the scientific accomplishments of a young scientist who makes outstanding contributions to the advancement of seismology.
Dr. Zhongwen Zhan received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in the Special Class for the Gifted Young from the University of Science and Technology of China in Hefei, and his Ph.D. from the California Institute of Technology in 2013. As a graduate student, he received several outstanding student presentation awards from the AGU. After a 2-year postdoctoral appointment at the University of California, San Diego, he joined the Caltech Faculty in 2015.
Zhongwen has published an exceptional number of papers on a wide range of topics in both source and structural seismology. He has developed detailed images of rupture complexity for deep focus earthquakes and in doing so uncovered clear evidence for supershear rupture propagation based on the difference in pulse-width for downgoing versus surface-reflected phases. He has constrained the sharpness of seismic wavespeed anomalies in subduction zones and demonstrated that tomographic images greatly underpredict the strength of those anomalies. He is one of the first to demonstrate the existence of reflected body-wave arrivals in observations of the ambient seismic field using array beam-forming of ambient-field measurements to discern reflections off both the Moho and the core. While his research portfolio is already broad, he is working to broaden it further through studies of intermediate-depth earthquakes and the seismological signature of cryospheric processes.
Zhongwen Zhan is a creative and exceptionally productive scientist who is making significant contributions to a wide range of seismological problems. He is a worthy choice for the Aki award, which recognizes the significance of his early-career accomplishments, and anticipates further outstanding contributions in the future.
—Gregory C. Beroza, Stanford University, Stanford, Calif.
I am very honored to receive the Aki award of this year. I am deeply indebted to many mentors, collaborators, and friends. I thank Sidao Ni and Don Helmberger for bringing me to the field of seismology and teaching me the art of reading seismograms. I have benefited greatly from inspiring collaborations with Hiroo Kanamori, Mark Simons, Rob Clayton, Peter Shearer, and Victor Tsai over the years. I am also grateful for the very supportive environment at Caltech allowing me to pursue new research directions.
As a seismologist, I enjoy reading the wiggles. Nowadays, numerous seismograms can be accessed easily, thanks to the unselfish seismology community and progresses in technology. Meanwhile, the explosion of data also poses new challenges and opportunities to the old art of seismogram reading. I would like to thank all the pioneers, inside or outside the field of seismology, for developing new ways of analyzing large amounts of seismic waveforms. I hope more young seismologists can continue to read seismograms, invent new methods, and bring the art of seismogram reading to a new level.
—Zhongwen Zhan, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena
Sanne Cottaar will receive the 2015 Keiiti Aki Young Scientist Award at the 2015 American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting, to be held 14–18 December in San Francisco, Calif. The award recognizes the scientific accomplishments of a young scientist who makes outstanding contributions to the advancement of seismology.
Dr. Sanne Cottaar received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees with distinction from the University of Utrecht, Netherlands, and her Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley, in 2013. As a graduate student, she was awarded the Tocher Fellowship, and as a research fellow of Pembroke College and a research associate at the University of Cambridge, she was awarded the Drapers’ Company Research Fellowship.
Sanne has worked, and published, on a wide range of topics concerning the structure and dynamics of Earth’s deep interior. She used full-waveform modeling to document a very large ultralow-velocity zone at the base of the mantle near Hawaii. She has used thermochemical convection modeling to argue for convective stability of the inner core. She has used Sdiff waves to study the strength and extent of the Perm anomaly. She has studied seismic anisotropy at the base of the mantle and identified an asymmetry of azimuthal anisotropy with respect to the edge of the African superplume. She also carried out multidisciplinary work that explored a model of a subducted slab interacting with the core-mantle boundary. More recently, she has turned her attention to constraining the structure of upper mantle discontinuities.
In addition to these topics, Sanne cocreated the publicly available BurnMan code with a group of junior scientists, which allows investigation of elastic properties for different mineral compositions under different pressures and temperature conditions deep in the Earth (Cottaar et al., Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems, 2014, doi:10.1002/2013GC005122).
Sanne Cottaar is a creative scientist who has contributed significantly to understanding the deep Earth. Her approach is primarily seismological but is well informed by information and modeling from allied disciplines. The Aki Award recognizes the significance of these accomplishments and anticipates further outstanding contributions in the future.
—Gregory C. Beroza, Stanford University, Stanford, Calif.
It is with great gratitude and joy that I receive the 2015 Keiiti Aki Award. This has only been possible because of many supportive and generous scientists, of whom I can only name a few here. I thank Barbara Romanowicz, Arwen Deuss, and Bruce Buffett for the many inspiring years of mentoring, teaching, and supporting the development of my research style and drive. Hanneke Paulssen and Jeannot Trampert introduced me to seismology and research; thank you.
I have benefited greatly from being in many stimulating and welcoming environments, the broader communities at the University of California, Berkeley, University of Cambridge, Pembroke College, and the Cooperative Institute for Dynamic Earth Research (CIDER). I also thank their staffs, who keep these institutes up and running. With the research labs, my science siblings, I have enjoyed a lot of pleasurable time in and out of the office; by naming Vedran Lekic and Elizabeth Day, I thank you all.
I feel very fortunate to be part of the seismology and deep Earth communities. I regard so many of you as collaborators, mentors, and friends. This is also a place to recognize those countless involved in collecting and distributing seismic data, without whom my work on the deeper Earth is not possible.
I thank my parents for my initial conditions and their ever-continued support, my siblings for always challenging me, and now my “niblings” for reminding me to play. I thank my friends across continents for their continual support and welcome distraction.
It remains a privilege to continue learning, being part of a research family, and studying an amazing planet—Earth.
—Sanne Cottaar, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, U.K.
Gregory C. McLaskey received the 2014 Keiiti Aki Young Scientist Award at the 2014 American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting, held 15–19 December in San Francisco, Calif. The award recognizes the scientific accomplishments of a young scientist who makes outstanding contributions to the advancement of seismology.
Gregory C. McLaskey earned his B.S., magna cum laude, in civil engineering from Cornell University and his master’s and Ph.D. degrees from the University of California, Berkeley, the latter in 2011. In grad school he was awarded an National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship. He then spent 3 years at the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) in Menlo Park on a Mendenhall Postdoctoral Fellowship. This fall he began a faculty position at Cornell in the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering.
Greg has derived new insights on earthquake physics through a series of innovative experimental studies. Using a direct shear apparatus that he designed and built, including transducers that are calibrated with Green ‘s functions for the experimental geometry, he found that laboratory-generated earthquakes with longer recurrence intervals generate more high-frequency energy (McLaskey et al., Nature, 2012). This relationship is also seen for small natural earthquakes and suggests that fault healing time plays a role in determining earthquake spectra.
In his postdoctoral work on the large-scale rock friction apparatus at the USGS in Menlo Park, Greg found that clusters of high-frequency foreshocks can occur in a slowly slipping patch of the experimental fault if the rate of applied local shear stress is high enough, suggesting that the transition between aseismic and seismic slip is modulated by the local stress field (McLaskey and Kilgore, Journal of Geophysical Research, 2013). Another striking result is that populations of tiny seismic events (magnitudes of −6 to −7) have stress drops that are comparable to larger natural earthquakes (McLaskey et al., Pure and Applied Geophysics, 2014). This result indicates that stress drop is independent of seismic moment, a concept proposed by Keiiti Aki.
Greg is now building an experimental lab at Cornell, and his unique blend of seismology and rock friction studies has great potential to further our understanding of the physics of earthquake faulting.
—Karen M. Fischer, Brown University, Providence, R.I.
I am deeply honored to receive this year ‘s Aki award. I would like to thank my graduate advisor, Steve Glaser, for creating such a great experimental laboratory and for the freedom to “play” with seismology in that lab. It was by experimenting with different materials, sensors, and laboratory seismic sources such as ball impact and fracture that I was able to build my intuition about the way seismic waves are generated and propagated. I would also like to thank Roland Bürgmann for broadening my view of Earth science, for his encouragement, and for welcoming me in his lab meetings. Finally, I would not be where I am today without my fantastic colleagues and mentors at the earthquake science center at the USGS in Menlo Park. In particular, Nick Beeler was supportive of me from day one. Brian Kilgore: thanks for not letting anyone retire that 2-meter apparatus and for dedicating so much time to it. Dave Lockner: it has been so exciting to work with you and to write papers together. I look forward to continuing laboratory earthquake experiments that explore more closely their physics, mechanics, and scaling relationships.
—Gregory C. McLaskey, Cornell University, Ithaca, N. Y.
Brandon Schmandt received the 2013 Keiiti Aki Young Scientist Award at the 2013 AGU Fall Meeting, held 9–13 December in San Francisco, Calif. The award recognizes the scientific accomplishments of a young scientist who makes outstanding contributions to the advancement of seismology.
Brandon Schmandt earned his B.A. from Warren Wilson College and his Ph.D. from the University of Oregon. He was a postdoctoral scholar at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) and is now an assistant professor at the University of New Mexico.
Brandon’s research is characterized by artful integration of high-quality seismological imaging with geologic and tectonic information, and he has produced key insights into the structure and evolution of the North American continent. Brandon’s body wave tomography model for the western United States robustly synthesized data from the EarthScope Transportable Array and many other arrays. His collaborative work integrating this model with other seismic and geologic constraints has shed new light on varied processes, including the evolution of a segmented subducted Farallon slab, remnant microplates and slab windows, and lithospheric instabilities beneath the Colorado Plateau. Brandon has also produced evidence for a low-velocity layer on top of the western U.S. transition zone and the exciting observation of upwarping of the 660-kilometer discontinuity that correlates with a plume-like zone of low velocities in the mantle beneath the Yellowstone hot spot. This latter result is one of the best pieces of evidence to date for connection of a surface hot spot track with a lower mantle plume.
Brandon is continuing to innovate. Using a high-density exploration array in Long Beach, Calif., he recently resolved a sharp offset in Moho topography across the eastern edge of the California Inner Borderland, a result with significant tectonic implications. He is also pioneering in the field of fluvial seismology, studying the seismic signal of a dam release on the Colorado River as a tool for monitoring sediment transport.
To quote from his Aki Award nomination, “Brandon has already demonstrated technical innovations, keen intellectual curiosity, the drive and energy to produce at the highest levels, dedication to the new ethic of open access of data, and a gift for cross disciplinary collaboration, all with a sense of humility.”
—KAREN M. FISCHER, Department of Geological Sciences, Brown University, Providence, R.I.
I appreciate Karen’s generous words, and I am sincerely honored to receive this year’s Aki Award. I would like to acknowledge that my research has been enabled by excellent mentors and colleagues and by a unique community of scientists. I was particularly lucky to wander into Gene Humphrey’s office as a first-year graduate student with a curiosity about western U.S. tectonics and seismology. Gene always matched my energy and enthusiasm and allowed me to find my path. Later, as a postdoc, I benefited from a similarly flexible and supportive environment in the Seismo Lab at Caltech. I also feel fortunate to be part of the seismology community. It is a special community that will strive to collect a world-class data set, such as the EarthScope seismic data, and then openly put those data in the hands of any eager scientist. This unselfish and open-minded perspective is a great motivation for me, and I expect it is for many young scientists. I am excited for the future as a member of the seismology community.
—BRANDON SCHMANDT, Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque
Victor C Tsai
Victor C. Tsai received the 2012 Keiiti Aki Young Scientist Award at the 2012 AGU Fall Meeting, held 3–7 December in San Francisco, Calif. The award recognizes the scientific accomplishments of a young scientist who makes outstanding contributions to the advancement of seismology.
Victor Tsai is the well-deserved winner of the 2012 Keiiti Aki Young Scientist Award. He received his bachelor’s degree from the California Institute of Technology, then went to Harvard for graduate school, where he received his Ph.D. in 2009. He did a Mendenhall postdoc at the U.S. Geological Survey in Golden, Colo., for 2 years, then returned to Caltech as an assistant professor last year. Victor has worked on an incredible range of topics, including the 2004 and 2012 Sumatra earthquakes, glacial earthquakes and more general problems of glacier physics, microseism generation and ambient noise cross-correlation theory, river turbulence, and tsunami modeling. All of his research is elegant and theoretically rigorous. Victor has 26 papers to date, including 7 this year alone. He already has a substantial body of work, which promises an outstanding career.
—PETER M. SHEARER, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla
I am honored to receive the Aki Award, but I would not be receiving this award without the benefit of many collaborations and inspirations as well as extensive mentoring and infrastructural, personal, and financial support. Although there are more individuals to thank than can be listed here, special thanks are due to Jim Rice, Hiroo Kanamori, Dave Stevenson, and Göran Ekström, who have all been irreplaceable mentors. I am also indebted to many other teachers, colleagues, and friends and to my parents, who have inspired in me a curiosity about the world, taught me the importance of hard work and persistence, supported my endeavors, and provided unimaginably rich opportunities throughout my life.
I especially appreciate this recognition by the AGU Seismology section because I would not call myself a traditional seismologist. My interests have often been on the fringes of seismology, including some topics that are not seismological and others that will likely never be more than a curiosity. Yet it is difficult to predict what will be useful many years later, and I feel fortunate to have been encouraged to follow some of my crazy ideas. While a number of these ideas have led nowhere, some of my least conventional and least cited efforts are ones that I am most proud of. Perhaps not surprisingly, I have also found a correlation between the difficulty my papers have had in peer review and how exciting I thought the results were.
All this is to say that I hope tomorrow’s young scientists will have similar opportunities and that they have the courage to explore their own interesting ideas. I hope that they will be allowed to take risks, continue to explore curiosity-driven science, and be able to think about problems that are not fashionable or challenge the current scientific consensus.
—VICTOR C. TSAI, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena
Andreas Fichtner received the 2011 Keiiti Aki Young Scientist Award at the 2011 AGU Fall Meeting, held 5–9 December in San Francisco, Calif. The award recognizes the scientific accomplishments of a young scientist who makes outstanding contributions to the advancement of seismology.
Andreas Fichtner is the deserving winner of the 2011 Keiiti Aki Young Scientist Award. He received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Mining and Technology, in Freiberg, Germany, and then was a Fulbright student at the University of Washington, Seattle, for 1 year, before going to graduate school at Ludwig Maximilian University, in Munich, Germany, where he received his Ph.D. in 2010. During his studies he also spent time at Laboratoire de Géophysique Interne et Tectonophysique (LGIT) in Grenoble, Institut de Physique du Globe (IPG) in Paris, and Australian National University (ANU) in Canberra. Currently, Andreas is a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Earth Sciences at Utrecht University, Utrecht, Netherlands.
Andreas has worked on a range of topics, including adjoint inversion techniques, the implementation of numerical methods for seismic wave propagation, volcano seismology, and full waveform tomography applied on local to continental scales. He has already a substantial body of work, including a book on seismic modeling and inversion published by Springer last year. Andreas is on track to have a brilliant career.
—Peter Shearer, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla
I am deeply honored to receive this award named after Aki, whose pioneering work helped to initiate the field of seismic tomography that is now one of our primary sources of information on the interior of the Earth.
This award is a result of the amazing progress made in computational seismology in the course of the past 2 decades, and therefore I would like it to be understood as a community achievement. I am very grateful to my colleagues, who were always willing to share their knowledge and experience with me. In particular, I would like to thank my teachers Bernhard Forkmann, Wolfgang Sproessig, and Ken Creager, not only for patience with their querulous student but also for infecting me with their passion for science. Heiner Igel, Peter Bunge, and Brian Kennett opened to me all the opportunities a Ph.D. student can possibly think of and gave me the freedom to develop my own ideas. Also, I wish to thank Jeannot Trampert for his support and our many discussions, which I enjoy very much.
It is a true pleasure to be part of the computational seismology community!
—Andreas Fichtner, Utrecht University, Utrecht, Netherlands
German A Prieto
Germán Prieto received the 2010 Keiiti Aki Young Scientist Award at the 2010 AGU Fall Meeting, held 13–17 December in San Francisco, Calif. The award recognizes the scientific accom-plishments of a young scientist who makes outstanding contributions to the advancement of seismology.
Germán Prieto is an outstanding young seismologist of exceptional ability. Germán went to graduate school at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, San Diego, Calif., and earned his Ph.D. in 2007. He was at Stanford University, Stanford, Calif., through 2008 as the Thompson Postdoctoral Fellow and is now on the faculty at the Universidad de los Andes, in Bogotá, Colombia. Germán’s work is consistently innovative and is characterized by a powerful combination of theoretical and practical insight.
Germán’s thesis research work with Peter Shearer and Frank Vernon focused on the earthquake source, and he developed a new approach for analyzing large waveform data sets that led to source parameter estimates for an order of magnitude more earthquakes than any previous study. This work provides some of the strongest evidence extant for self-similarity in the earthquake source.
During his postdoc, Germán’s research took a different direction. He used deconvolution to recover Green’s functions from the ambient field in a way that preserves amplitude, and he predicted basin response for a moderate earthquake in Southern California based on these Green’s functions. This opens a new approach to seismic hazard analysis at long periods that will see widespread application in the future.
In 2009, Germán developed the first technique to recover anelastic structure from the ambient field, which creates new opportunities in structural seismology. It is particularly fitting that he receive this award, because in developing this method he went back to the original spatial autocorrelation formulation developed by Kei Aki himself in 1957. Most recently, Germán and Jesse Lawrence have used attenuation measurements from the ambient field as the foundation for attenuation tomography of the western United States with spectacular results.
In his short career, Germán has pioneered new techniques to address important research problems spanning an increasingly broad range of topics. We can expect great things from him in the future.
—Gregory C. Beroza, Geophysics Department, Stanford University, Stanford, Calif.
I am very honored to receive this prestigious award named after one the great seismologists of our time. It is almost inescapable that Kei Aki would have an early reference in most topics that young seismologists would dive into. For example, self-similarity was a term often used in Aki’s early papers. Use of the ambient seismic field, one of Aki’s early achievements, was first presented in 1957.
I am grateful to many people for this award: to my research advisors and mentors Peter Shearer and Frank Vernon at University of California, San Diego (UCSD) and Greg Beroza at Stanford University, as well as collaborator Jesse Lawrence. All of them gave me the opportunity to work on these very interesting research topics, sharing their insights and ideas, and providing the most exciting atmosphere to explore beyond their own expertise and to collaborate with other researchers. I would like to acknowledge nonseismologists Bob Parker (UCSD) and Dave Thomson (Queen’s University, Canada), who over the years have shared a different point of view on how to analyze seismological data; and my wife, Carolina, who has had to listen about earthquakes and noise every night.
As previous awardees David Shelly and Florent Brenguier have demonstrated, the large amount of freely available geophysical data is one of the most important assets seismologists have, but it is also important to develop fast, clever, and accurate signal processing methods in order to extract as much information as possible from these data.
I look forward to continuing to try to solve outstanding questions in seismology and geophysics, many of them likely to have been studied by Aki himself.
—Germán Prieto , Universidad de los Andes, Bogotá, Colombia
David R Shelly
David R. Shelly received the 2008 Keiiti Aki Young Scientist Award at the 2008 AGU Fall Meeting Honors Ceremony, held 17 December in San Francisco, Calif. The award recognizes the scientific accomplishments of a junior scientist who makes outstanding contributions to the advancement of seismology.
David R. Shelly has emerged as one of seismology’s young stars. He has had an impact on the field of seismology that is all out of proportion to his age due to his work on deep, nonvolcanic tremor. It is no exaggeration to state that David’s work revolutionized our understanding of this newly discovered seismic source—a remarkable accomplishment for a Ph.D. student.
During a summer spent at the University of Tokyo, David studied low-frequency earthquakes (LFEs), which were discovered by scientists in Japan. LFEs are small and occur almost exclusively during periods of tremor. He discovered that LFEs occur on the plate interface, and concluded that they represent plate-boundary slip. David subsequently demonstrated that tremor under the island of Shikoku consists of a swarm of LFEs. His work made sense out of signals that had defied interpretation. Before David’s work, tremor mechanisms focused on a coupling of fluid movement to the solid Earth, but he demonstrated that tremor in Japan, and presumably elsewhere, is generated by shear slip. His result stands as a true research breakthrough that may have more generally important implications for the earthquake process because tremor has now been discovered in diverse tectonic environments. In subsequent work, David documented rapid migration and strong tidal triggering of tremor. These, too, are important results. Most recently, he reported the discovery of a horizontal streak of tremor on the deep extension of the San Andreas Fault.
David has a knack for identifying important problems, is creative in solving them, and has a talent for extracting subtle information from immense volumes of data. He has the potential to become one of the world’s leaders in observational seismology. For all of these reasons he is a worthy recipient of the inaugural Keiiti Aki Young Scientist Award from the Seismology section of AGU.
—Gregory C. Beroza, Stanford University, Stanford, Calif.
I am extremely honored to be presented with an award named for Keiiti Aki, who profoundly influenced the field of seismology in many ways. Aki’s contributions serve as a reminder of the power of combining theory, observation, and scientific vision. I would especially like to acknowledge Greg Beroza (my Ph.D. advisor) and Satoshi Ide (collaborator and summer host at University of Tokyo), without whom the work for which I am receiving this award would not have been possible. A young scientist could not hope to have better mentors.
The explosion of available data, especially continuous seismic data, makes this an exciting time to be an observational seismologist. Many recent discoveries, such as those related to deep nonvolcanic tremor, are direct products of this investment in high-quality recording networks. I look forward to using this data in the future to work toward unlocking some of the mysteries of earthquakes and related deformation processes.
—David R. Shelly, U.S. Geological Survey, Menlo Park, Calif.