Brian Shiro currently serves as Supervisory Geophysicist at the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO). He oversees HVO's seismic and infrasound instrumentation, data processing, and data distribution from about 100 stations in the State of Hawaii. Shiro also manages HVO's formal response to significant earthquakes and volcanic activity. In addition, he serves as Advanced National Seismic System regional coordinator for the State of Hawaii.
Brian graduated from Northwestern University in 2000 with majors in Integrated Science, Physics, and Geological Sciences (now Earth & Planetary Sciences). He completed a senior honors thesis on New Madrid Seismic Zone deformation with advisor Professor Seth Stein. Shiro also worked in Professor Brad Sageman's lab to measure the carbon content of K-T Boundary rocks. Brian credits geophysics courses taught by Professors Emile Okal and Craig Bina with sparking his interest in earth science. “Taking Physics of the Earth for ISP as a sophomore inspired me to major in Geological Sciences and pursue a career in geophysics,” he says.
After NU, Brian earned a M.A. in Earth & Planetary Sciences from Washington University in St. Louis, where his research focused primarily on the seismicity and tectonics of the Tonga subduction zone with fellow EPS alumnus Doug Wiens as his advisor. As a graduate student, Brian took part in four IRIS-PASSCAL seismic field deployments in North America, Fiji, Tonga, Antarctica, and the Northern Mariana Islands. On the Mariana expedition in 2003, Brian was part of a small team to first witness and report the eruption of Anatahan Volcano.
From 2005-2016, Brian worked as a Geophysicist at the NOAA Pacific Tsunami Warning Center. The job required 24x7 monitoring of global seismicity, forecasting of tsunami threats, and issuing alerts to the Pacific, Caribbean, and Indian Ocean basins. He was awarded the NOAA Citation Award in 2012 for his service during the 2009 Samoa, 2010 Chile, and 2011 Japan tsunamis. Brian also played a key role in establishing the joint NOAA-USGS Hawaii Integrated Seismic Network and operated the USGS Honolulu Magnetic Observatory.
On the side, Brian has pursued a passion for space exploration. He has completed astronaut training programs, analog Mars missions (see Northwestern Magazine feature), earned a graduate certificate from the International Space University, and a M.S. in Space Studies from University of North Dakota. Brian has applied to NASA's astronaut program three times and made it to the "Highly Qualified" group of top applicants. Shiro is currently a Ph.D. candidate in Geology and Geophysics at the University of Hawaii at Mānoa, where his dissertation investigates how geophysical exploration techniques can be used in Mars analog environments. His main field site is the Hawaii Space Exploration Analog & Simulation facility on Mauna Loa Volcano, where he trains and remotely manages crews who explore the landscape. Brian is also a science team member for the NASA Insight mission, which will send a seismometer to Mars in 2018.
In his spare time, Brian enjoys ultra-marathon running, obstacle course racing, cycling, hiking, SCUBA, aviation, and being a dad to his two children. He serves on the local school board and is a strong advocate of science education in his local community.Back to top