IRIS/SSA Distinguished Lectureship

For more than 15 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

2019 Distinguished Lecturers View the 2019 flyer

  • Dr. Susan Hough

    Research Geophysicist
    U.S. Geologic Survey Pasadena,
    Pasadena, California

    What Past Earthquakes Tell Us About Future Earthquake Hazard: Facts & Fake Facts

    Curriculum Vitae

    Susan Hough graduated from the University of California, Berkeley with a degree in geophysics in 1982 and received a PhD in Earth sciences from the University of California, San Diego in 1988. Since 1992 she has worked as a research geophysicist at the US Geological Survey in Pasadena. Her research interests include earthquake ground motions, induced earthquakes, historical earthquakes, and seismic hazard. She led deployments of portable seismometers following a number of damaging earthquakes, including the 1989 Loma Prieta, California, and 2010 Haiti earthquakes. She has co-authored over 120 articles, and was elected Fellow of the American Geophysical Union in 2009. She is now serving as President-Elect of the Seismological Society of America. In addition to technical articles, she has a long-standing interest in science communication, having authored five books on earthquake science for a non-specialist audience as well as numerous popular articles. She has further led USAID-supported capacity development projects in a number of countries including Nepal, Haiti, and Myanmar.

    View Video

    Seismologists spend their lives working to understand earthquakes, including earthquakes caused by human activities, so that we can understand and mitigate the hazard they pose. Fortunately for us all, large earthquakes do not strike frequently in any one place. Many of the most important past earthquakes occurred before the invention of modern seismometers. To understand these events, scientists draw on sleuthing skills to explore all available sources of data. In this talk, I describe some of the ingenious work that has been done to understand past earthquakes, and the lessons they can teach us about present-day earthquake hazard. I also discuss evidence that, while earthquakes induced by wastewater injection appeared to be a new phenomenon, there is evidence that humans caused earthquakes in a number of places, including Oklahoma and Texas, as far back as the early 20th century.

  • Dr. Arthur Rodgers

    Atmospheric, Earth & Energy Division,
    Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory,
    Livermore, California

    Forecasting Ground Shaking from Earthquakes Using Supercomputers

    Curriculum Vitae

    Arthur Rodgers joined Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) as a seismologist in 1997. He has worked on high-performance computing and computational seismology since 2004. This worked involved modeling of seismic waves from earthquakes and explosions. Dr. Rodgers has worked with teams on modeling earthquakes in the San Francisco Bay Area, as well as educational outreach with the California Academy of Sciences (2012), LLNL’s Science on Saturday (2015) and the American Museum of Natural History (2018). He obtained a B.S. in Physics from Northeastern University and a Ph.D. from the University of Colorado in 1993. He was a postdoctoral scholar at New Mexico State University (1994) and the University of California Santa Cruz (1994-1996). In 2010, he was a Fulbright Scholar to Grenoble France. He is currently a Visiting Researcher at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the University of California Berkeley Seismology Laboratory.

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    Computer simulations of earthquakes can be performed to understand the expected level and character of shaking for possible future events. Advances in numerical methods and the ever growing power of parallel processing supercomputers enable ever more realistic modeling of earthquake shaking, including geology and topography. I’ll describe how computer simulations are enabled by world-class supercomputers and how these simulations are generating ever more realistic motions for hazard and risk studies. This lecture will describe supercomputer modeling of earthquake ground motions with a focus on large Hayward Fault ruptures. The last major earthquake on the Hayward Fault, with magnitude 6.5-7.0, occurred on October 21, 1868. This earthquake caused significant damage to structures for the few thousands of people living in the “East Bay” at that time. Geologic evidence strongly suggests major earthquakes on the Hayward Fault occur about every 140-160 years. It has been 150 years since the 1868 event, but today approximately 2.5 million people live near the Hayward Fault. Therefore, simulations like the one on the Hayward Fault can help inform policy makers and the general public about seismic hazard and risk.

2019 Lecture Series Schedule

Date Speaker Topic Venue
February 07, 2019 7:00PM Dr. Arthur Rodgers Forecasting Ground Shaking from Earthquakes Using Supercomputers OMSI Science Pub, McMenamins Mission Theater
July 16, 2019 7:00PM Dr. Susan Hough What Past Earthquakes Tell Us About Future Earthquake Hazard: Facts & Fake Facts Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, Empirical Theater
October 17, 2019 7:30PM Dr. Arthur Rodgers Forecasting Ground Shaking from Earthquakes Using Supercomputers Exploratorium
October 17, 2019 8:30PM Dr. Susan Hough What Past Earthquakes Tell Us About Future Earthquake Hazard: Facts & Fake Facts Exploratorium
October 18, 2019 7:00PM Dr. Susan Hough What Past Earthquakes Tell Us About Future Earthquake Hazard: Facts & Fake Facts Southwestern Oregon Community College
November 08, 2019 7:00PM Dr. Arthur Rodgers Forecasting Ground Shaking from Earthquakes Using Supercomputers Southwestern Oregon Community College
November 12, 2019 6:30PM Dr. Susan Hough What Past Earthquakes Tell Us About Future Earthquake Hazard: Facts & Fake Facts American Museum of Natural History
July 21, 2020 7:00PM Dr. Ross S. Stein How the Gold Rush and the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake Enabled Us to Divine our Seismic Future OMSI Science Pub, McMenamins Kennedy School Theater

Distinguished Lectureship Archive 2003 - 2018

Year Speaker Topic
2018 Dr. Katie Keranen Induced Earthquakes: Experimenting Unintentionally
2018 Dr. Frederik Simons Through the Ocean to the Mantle: Under the Seas with a Fleet of Floating Seismic Robots
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