IRIS/SSA Distinguished Lectureship

For more than 10 years, the Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology and the Seismological Society of America are proud to offer fascinating non-technical presentations on seismology-related topics to general audiences across the US through its IRIS/SSA Distinguished Lectureship Program. Each speaker is an expert in his/her specific research area and is skilled in effectively communicating new and exciting findings to the public. Lectures are typically presented at science museums, universities or similar settings as part of the venues’ established speaker series. Up to two IRIS/SSA Distinguished Lecturers are selected each calendar year (depending on funding) with each scientist presenting 3-6 lectures.

NOTE: In some cases, Department seminars may be scheduled in conjunction with a Public Lecture.

For more information, please contact:

Perle Dorr
IRIS Education and Outreach Program
Phone: 202.682.2220

2018 Distinguished Lecturers View the 2018 flyer

  • Dr. Katie Keranen

    Assistant Professor
    Department of Earth & Atmospheric Sciences,
    Cornell University,
    Ithaca, New York

    Induced Earthquakes: Experimenting Unintentionally

    Curriculum Vitae

    Katie Keranen is an assistant professor at Cornell University. Keranen wants to understand how the world works, and to that end, studies earthquakes, volcanoes, and plate motion to understand deformation of the earth at slow and rapid rates. Keranen has a BS from Michigan Technological University, a PhD from Stanford University, and completed postdoctoral research with the USGS Geological Survey.  Before arriving at Cornell, Keranen was an assistant professor at the University of Oklahoma, and began studying induced seismicity when her house began shaking.

    Induced earthquakes are triggered by humans, either by injecting fluid into the ground, extracting it, or impounding it behind dams. Induced earthquakes have occurred for a century, but in the past decade have become more prevalent in locations such as Oklahoma than natural earthquakes along most plate boundaries. These earthquakes create a new hazard and bring public attention, but they also create opportunities to study earthquake processes at atypical rates. Here, I discuss the sudden rise in induced seismicity, the relationship to oil and gas production including wastewater disposal and hydraulic fracturing, mitigation efforts, and new scientific advances made possible by this unintended experiment.

  • Dr. Frederik Simons

    Department of Geosciences,
    Princeton University,
    Princeton, New Jersey

    Through the Ocean to the Mantle: Under the Seas with a Fleet of Floating Seismic Robots

    Curriculum Vitae

    Frederik Simons is a geophysicist at Princeton University. Usually from the safety of his office, he analyzes data from digital global seismic networks to study the physical properties of the interior of the solid Earth, and from gravity satellite missions to weigh the ice sheets melting off its surface. To help increase seismic station coverage around the globe, he has been leaving his comfort zone by prototyping floating earthquake recorders in the oceans, and is now promoting the next big push in earth observation through the international initiative "EarthScope-Oceans". Simons joined the Princeton faculty in 2006. He is also an Associated Faculty member in the Program in Applied & Computational Mathematics and serves on the Executive Committee of the Program in Archaeology. Between 2010 and 2013, Simons was the Dusenbury University Preceptor of Geological & Geophysical Sciences. Previously, he was a Lecturer at University College London, a Princeton Council of Science & Technology Beck Fellow and a Department of Geosciences Hess Post-doctoral Fellow. Simons received a Ph.D. in Geophysics from M.I.T. and his M.Sc. in Geology from the KU Leuven in Belgium, of which he is a native. 

    In the last few decades, seismologists have mapped the Earth's interior (crust, mantle, and core) in ever increasing detail. Natural earthquakes, the sources of energy used to probe the Earth's inside via seismic computerized tomography, occur mostly on tectonic plate boundaries. Seismometers, the receivers of earthquake wave motion, are located mostly on dry land. Such fundamentally inadequate 'source-receiver' coverage leaves large volumes inside the Earth entirely unexplored. Here be dragons! Placing seismic stations on the ocean bottom is among the solutions practiced successfully today. But there are exciting alternatives. Enter MERMAID: a fully autonomous marine instrument that travels deep below the ocean surface, recording seismic activity (and marine environmental data), and then reporting it by surfacing for satellite data transmission. This presentation will discuss a century of Earth imaging, a decade of instrument design and development, and the challenging – and wet – places that our scientific journey has taken us.

2018 Lecture Series Schedule

Date Speaker Topic Venue
January 30, 2018 6:30PM Dr. Frederik Simons Through the Ocean to the Mantle: Under the Seas with a Fleet of Floating Seismic Robots Houston Museum of Natural Science
February 28, 2018 6:30PM Dr. Katie Keranen Induced Earthquakes: Experimenting Unintentionally Houston Museum of Natural Science
April 17, 2018 7:00PM Dr. Frederik Simons Through the Ocean to the Mantle: Under the Seas with a Fleet of Floating Seismic Robots Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, Empirical Theater
October 04, 2018 7:00PM Dr. Katie Keranen Induced Earthquakes: Experimenting Unintentionally OMSI Science Pub, McMenamins Mission Theater
November 30, 2018 7:00PM Dr. Frederik Simons Through the Ocean to the Mantle: Under the Seas with a Fleet of Floating Seismic Robots Southwestern Oregon Community College

Distinguished Lectureship Archive 2003 - 2017

Year Speaker Topic
2017 Dr. John Vidale A Tale of Three Pacific Northwest Temblors: One Big, One Deep and One Direct Hit
2017 Dr. Stephen McNutt Shaking and Baking: Using Seismology to Study Volcanoes
2016 Dr. Justin Rubinstein Yes, Humans Really Are Causing Earthquakes
2016 Dr. Caroline Beghein From Plate Tectonics to Deep Earth Dynamics: A Seismological Journey Inside the Earth
2015 Dr. Thorne Lay A Global Surge of Great Earthquakes and What We are Learning From Them
2015 Dr. Doug Wiens Fire and Ice: Volcanoes, Earth Structure, and the Evolution of the Antarctic Ice Sheet
2014 Dr. Meredith Nettles Glacial Earthquakes: Using Seismic and GPS Observations to Map Changes in Glaciers and Ice Sheets Worldwide
2014 Dr. Jean-Paul Ampuero Earth's Cocktail Party: Deciphering the Physics of Earthquakes With Networks of Seismic Arrays
2013 Dr. Lara Wagner Imaging the Ancient Margin: How the Southeastern United States Was Built (And Why You Should Care)
2013 Dr. Gavin Hayes Mitigating Disasters: Earthquake Response in the 21st Century
2012 Dr. Miaki Ishii Dissecting Giant Earthquakes: Things We Didn't Know
2012 Dr. Gregory Beroza The Tortoise and the Hare: Slow vs Fast Earthquakes
2011 Dr. Wayne D. Pennington Preparing for the Future: Scientific and Humanitarian Lessons from the Haiti and Japan earthquakes
2011 Dr. Beatrice Magnani The New Madrid Earthquakes Two Hundred Years Later: What Have We Learned About Earthquakes at the Center of Tectonic Plates?
2010 Dr. Brian Stump Forensic Seismology and Nucler Testing: The Detective Work of Seismologists
2010 Dr. Stephen Malone Predicting Earthquakes and Volcanic Eruptions: What Can and Can't Now Be Done
2009 Dr. Aaron A. Velasco Can a Large Earthquake in Another Country Cause One in Your Backyard?
2009 Dr. Richard C. Aster Taking Earth's Pulse and Temperature Using Seismology: Roaring Oceans and Singing Icebergs
2008 Dr. Cliff Frohlich Deep Earthquakes and the Secret of Seismology
2008 Dr. Uri ten Brink Peace and Science in the Middle East
2007 Dr. Anne Sheehan Seeing Beneath Mt. Everest: Probing a Breeding Ground of Destructive Earthquakes
2007 Dr. Brian Atwater The Orphan Tsunami of 1700 - A Trans-Pacific Detective Story
2006 Dr. Mary Lou Zoback The 1906 Earthquake - Lessons Learned, Lessons Forgotten, and Future Directions
2006 Dr. Ed Garnero Vibrations From the Deep: Deciphering the Birth and Death of the Earth's Surface
2006 Dr. Seth Stein Giant Earthquakes: Why, Where, When, and What We Can Do
2005 Dr. Michael Wysession Earthquakes, Tsunamis, and a Modern Journey to the Center of the Earth
2005 Dr. Susan Hough The Very Long Reach of Very Large Earthquakes
2004 Dr. David E. James Revealing the Mysteries of the Earth's Deep Interior: Plates, Plumes, and the Birth of Modern Seismology
2004  David Wald Rapid Earthquake Information: Citizen Science and New Tools for Emergency Response
2003 Dr. Roger Bilham Death and Construction: Earthquakes on an Urban Planet
2003 Dr. Walter Mooney The Discovery of the Earth: The Quest to Understand the Interior of our Planet