Douglas Wiens, Ph.D. 1985 in Geophysics
Professor and Chair, Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences
Washington University in St Louis
Doug Wiens, a world leader in seismology, has made great advances studying earthquakes, volcanoes, and the evolution of the lithosphere. He has conducted field research on land and at sea around the world including Africa, the Pacific, South America, and Antarctica. He currently leads the seismology component of the National Science Foundation's international effort to map and analyze an unknown part of Antarctica, the Gamburtsev Subglacial Mountains, by deploying seismometers on the ice.
These mountains were the locus of the first continental ice sheet when the earth started to cool 30 million years ago, but cannot be directly studied because they are below mile-thick ice. The project seeks to understand the origin of these enigmatic mountains to provide crucial new inputs into ice sheet and climate models.
In addition to scientific accomplishments, Wiens has served the global geophysical community in a range of important organizational roles including senior leadership in the International Polar Year program. He led the development of the Washington University seismology/tectonics group into a program of international stature. In addition to being a superb scientist, he ranks as an excellent teacher and an effective and supportive advisor for both graduate students and postdocs. In 2007 he was elected a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union, a special tribute for exceptional scientific contributions in the earth and space sciences, an honor conferred upon not more than 0.1% of the Union's 50,000 members in any year.