Graduate Advising

Projects with current Ph.D. students:

Edward Brooks

Assessment of seismic hazard maps

My research involves assessing the performance of earthquake hazard maps. Engineers and city planners use these maps to make decisions for hazard mitigation, but frequently the maps used prove ineffective, and there is no agreed upon metric for defining map success. My work focuses on quantifying the performance of hazard maps, so objective comparisons can be drawn between maps. Ultimately, this work can be used to ask the question of how good must a map be to be successful?

Research website


Leah Salditch

Earthquake clustering

I study large earthquake temporal clusters from a probabilistic perspective. This includes simulating paleo-earthquake records that exhibit temporal clusters to understand the broad characteristics and behavior of faults in different tectonic regimes. My research proposes an alternative to the traditional earthquake cycle model that allows a fault’s past to influence its future likelihood of experiencing an earthquake. Additionally, my research looks at qualitative intensity distributions from large historical earthquakes in California, which can facilitate a better understanding of how well current probabilistic seismic hazard assessments reflect the observed record of earthquake intensities and damage.


Reece Elling

Midcontinent Rift

I’m interested broadly in plate tectonics and structural geology, and my research involves studying North America’s Midcontinent Rift (MCR) and how it can provide insight into the continental rifting process in general. It appears that the MCR contains many features found in other rifts as well as passive continental margins, and studying their structure as well as geophysical properties such as gravity and magnetics sheds light on their possible evolutionary paths. I’ve also been involved in working on paleo-plate tectonic reconstructions and paleomagnetics of the Precambrian, and plan to further study apparent polar wander and how changes in direction might be linked to tectonic activity such as rifting.


Jamie Neely

Seismic hazards

My research focuses on earthquakes, including both seismic hazards and what they tell us about long-term geologic processes. My previous research has included seismicity studies of lithosphere tearing and subsequent transform fault development along the Australia-Pacific subduction zone. Using Coulomb Failure Stress, b-value, and earthquake rupture property analyses, I examined the transform plate boundary development process. Currently, I am studying the seismic hazard posed by earthquakes along the eastern continental margin of North America by examining what the possible maximum earthquake magnitude might be.


I have had the good fortune to work with many outstanding graduate students. I have been a thesis advisor to:

Douglas Wiens; (Ph.D. 1985), now Brookings Distinguished Professor , Washington University in St. Louis; Fellow, American Geophysical Union

Joe Engeln; (Ph.D. 1985), now Assistant Director for Science, Missouri Department of Natural Resources

Paul Stoddard; (Ph.D. 1989), now Associate Professor, Northern Illinois University

Gary Acton*; (Ph.D. 1990), now Assistant Professor, Sam Houston State University (Texas); Fellow, Geological Society of America

George Helffrich; (Ph.D. 1990), now Professor, Tokyo Institute of Technology Earth-Life Science Institute; Fellow, American Geophysical Union

               Tom Shoberg+; (Ph.D. 1993), now Research Geophysicist, U.S. Geological Survey

John Weber*+; (Ph.D. 1995), now Professor, Grand Valley State University (Michigan); Fellow, Geological Society of America

John Delaughter+; (Ph.D. 1998), now geophysicist, Devon Oil

Lisa Leffler+*, (Ph.D. 1999), now Earth Science teacher, Fairhope Alabama

Andy Newman+; (Ph.D. 2000), now Professor, Georgia Institute of Technology

Fred Marton; (Ph.D. 2001), now Associate Professor, Bergen Community College (New Jersey)

Eryn Klosko; (Ph.D. 2002), now Department Chair and Professor, Westchester Community College (New York)

Alberto Lopez; (Ph.D. 2006), now Assistant Professor, University of Puerto Rico

Kimberly Schramm; (Ph.D. 2007), now seismologist, Sandia National Laboratory

Carl Ebeling+; (Ph.D. 2012), now research geophysicist, UC San Diego

Laura Swafford+; (Ph.D. 2013), now geophysicist, Chevron

Miguel Merino+; (Ph.D. 2014), now geophysicist, Chevron

George Helffrich celebrating his election as Fellow of the American Geophysical Union

I have also worked with:

Paul Lundgren; (Ph.D. 1988), now research scientist and group supervisor,  Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology

Charles DeMets*; (Ph.D. 1988), now Wegener Professor of Geophysics, University of Wisconsin-Madison;  Fellow, American Geophysical Union

Don Argus; (Ph.D. 1990), now Principal Scientist, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology; Fellow, Geological Society of America

John Brodholt; (Ph.D. 1992), now Professor, University College, London

Phil Richardson+;  (Ph.D. 1998), now Geophysical Coordinator for Europe, Chevron

Emily Wolin; (Ph.D. 2015), now Research Geophysicist, U.S. Geological Survey

*Students whose joint paper with me won an AGU Outstanding Student Paper Award

+Awarded the department`s Horace Scott Award for Outstanding Graduate Research and Potential