Committee Membership Information

Study Title:

New Research Opportunities in the Earth Sciences at the National Science Foundation

Study Director:


Dr. Thorne Lay - (Chair)
University of California, Santa Cruz

Thorne Lay is Distinguished Professor of Earth & Planetary Sciences at the University of California, Santa Cruz where he was Founding Director of the Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics and is currently Director of the Center for the Study of Imaging and Dynamics of the Earth (CSIDE). His primary research interests involve analysis of seismic waves to interrogate the deep structure of the Earth's interior and to study the physics of earthquake faulting. This involves imaging structures associated with internal dynamics of the mantle, particularly the core-mantle boundary region and the vicinity of subducting lithosphere. Earthquake-related investigations include waveform modeling of body and surface waves to determine the nature of faulting and to develop seismic models for the entire rupture process. He also studies nuclear explosion sources to provide improved means for monitoring low-threshold test ban treaties. Dr. Lay has over 230 peer-reviewed publications, received the Macelwane Medal from the American Geophysical Union in 1991, and is a Lifetime National Associate of the National Academies of Science. He is also past Chair of the Board of Directors of Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology (IRIS) and previously held a faculty position at the University of Michigan from 1984-1988. Dr. Lay received a B.S. from the University of Rochester in 1978 and an M.S and Ph.D. from the California Institute of Technology in 1980 and 1983.


Dr. Michael L. Bender
Princeton University

Michael L. Bender is a Professor of Geosciences at Princeton University, where he has been since 1997. His research focuses on glacial-interglacial climate change and the global carbon cycle. This involves measuring gas properties in ice cores to date critical climate changes of the ice ages. His carbon cycle research involves studies characterizing the fertility of ecosystems at the global scale, at the scale of ocean basins, and at regional to local scales within the oceans. Dr. Bender is a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union and recipient of the Patterson Medal of the Geochemical Society. He has served on numerous editorial boards and committees including Chair of the NOAA CO2 Observations Advisory Group (1999-2001) and the NSF Ice Core Working Group (1990-1997). Prior to joining Princeton, he was a Professor of Oceanography at the University of Rhode Island (1972-1997). Dr. Bender received a B.S. in chemistry from the Carnegie Institute of Technology in 1965 and a Ph.D. in geology from Columbia University in 1970.


Dr. Michael Manga
University of California, Berkeley

Michael Manga is a Professor in the Department of Earth and Planetary Science at the University of California, Berkeley, where he has been since 2001. His research focuses on processes involving fluids, including problems in physical volcanology, geodynamics, and hydrogeology using combinations of theoretical, numerical and experimental approaches. His research integrates lab and field observations (both of active processes and recorded in the geologic record) with theoretical and model results and typically involves new contributions in applied fluid mechanics. He is author of over 130 peer-reviewed articles and the recipient of the Macelwane Medal from the American Geophysical Union in 2002, the Donath Medal from the Geological Society of America in 2003, and a MacArthur Fellowship in 2005. He has served on numerous editorial boards (Reviews of Geophysics, Journal of Geophysical Research, Geology). He was an Assistant Professor at the University of Oregon from 1996-2001. Dr. Manga received a B.S. from McGill University in 1990 and an S.M. and Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1992 and 1994.


Dr. Isabel P. Montanez
University of California, Davis

Isabel P. Monta�ez is a Professor in the Department of Geology at the University of California, Davis. Dr. Monta�ez is a field geologist and geochemist whose research focuses on the sedimentary archive of paleoatmospheric composition and paleoclimatic conditions, in particular in reconstructing records of greenhouse gas-climate linkages during periods of major climate transitions. Her past work has involved study of marine and terrestrial successions of Cambrian through Pleistocene age. Dr Monta�ez is a Fellow of the Geological Society of America and received her Ph.D. in geology from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.


Dr. Kenneth A. Farley
California Institute of Technology

Kenneth A. Farley is Chair of the Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences and W. M. Keck Foundation Professor of Geochemistry at the California Institute of Technology, where he has been since 1993. His research is focused on the use of noble gas concentrations and isotopic ratios and addresses problems in a range of Earth science disciplines. Current interests include (1) the development and application of techniques for assessing the cooling history of rocks from the ingrowth and diffusion of radiogenic Helium-4, (2) improved analytical techniques for the measurement of cosmogenic noble gases and experimental investigation of the processes by which these isotopes are produced, and (3) identifying major events in the recent history of the solar system using extraterrestrial Helium-3 in seafloor sediments. He was the Director of the CalTech Tectonic Observatory and was the recipient of the Macelwane Medal from the American Geophysical Union in 1999 and the National Academy of Science Award for Initiatives in Research in 2000. Dr. Farley received a B.S. in chemistry from Yale University in 1986 and a Ph.D. in earth science from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography of the University of California, San Diego in 1991.


Dr. Patricia L. Wiberg
University of Virginia

Patricia L. Wiberg is Professor and Chair of the Department of Environmental Sciences at the University of Virginia, where she has been since 1990. Her research focuses on sediment transport dynamics on the continental shelf and tidal salt marshes and in lagoons and the effects of climate change on coastal systems. This includes the post-depositional alteration and preservation of sedimentary strata, the transport of sediment-associated contaminants, and the evolution of lagoon bottom habitat. Dr. Wiberg has served as Associate Editor for the Journal of Sedimentary Research and Journal of Geophysical Research ? Earth Surface, served on the MARGINS steering committee, and is Chair of the NSF Community Surface Dynamics Modeling System Executive Committee. She also chaired the AGU Information Technology Committee. Dr. Wiberg received a B.A. in mathematics from Brown University, and an M.S. and Ph.D. in oceanography from the University of Washington.


Dr. Suzanne Carbotte
Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University

Suzanne Carbotte is a Heezen Senior Scientist at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University, where she has been since 1993. Her research focuses on the formation of oceanic crust at the global mid-ocean ridge using a variety of marine geophysical techniques. Current work involves the application of seismic methods to study the alteration of the crust that occurs as a result of fluid-rock interactions on the Juan de Fuca plate and the origin of the segmentation of mid-ocean ridges. Nearer to shore, Dr. Carbotte applies marine geophysical techniques to study sedimentary processes and characterize benthic habitats in the estuarine setting including the linkages between rising sea-level and climate fluctuations with the changing faunal populations documented in the river sediments. She has served on numerous national committees including the NSF funded Ridge 2000 steering committee (2002-2007) and ORION Cyberinfrastructure Committee (2005-2007). Dr. Carbotte received a B.S. in geology and physics from the University of Toronto in 1982, an M.Sc. in geophysics at Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario in 1986, and a Ph.D. in marine geophysics from the University of California, Santa Barbara in 1992.


Dr. Peter L. Olson
Johns Hopkins University

Peter L. Olson is Professor of Geophysical Fluid Dynamics in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences at Johns Hopkins University, where he has been since 1977. Dr. Olson combines theory, numerical models, and laboratory fluid dynamics models to interpret global geophysical data pertaining to the Earth?s deep interior in order to better understand how the mantle and the core interact to produce plate tectonics, deep mantle plumes, and the geomagnetic field. Dr. Olson has served on numerous national and international committees including the Computational Infrastructure for Geodynamics Executive Committee and the U.S. National Committee on Studies of Earth's Deep Interior. Dr. Olson is a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union, an Honorary Fellow of the European Union of Geosciences, and a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences. Dr. Olson received a B.A. in geology from the University of Colorado, Boulder in 1972 and an M.A. and Ph.D. in geophysics from the University of California, Berkeley in 1974 and 1977.


Dr. Timothy Lyons
University of California, Riverside

Timothy Lyons is a Professor of Biogeochemistry in the Department of Earth Sciences at the University of California, Riverside, where he has been since 2005. His research interests are in marine geochemistry, biogeochemical cycles through time, earth history and paleoclimate, and astrobiology linked by career-long interest in anoxic marine environments. Recent research focuses on the development of geochemical proxies in modern settings and the pursuit of big questions about the ancient ocean and atmosphere. Dr. Lyons is a fellow of the Geological Society of America and the AAAS and recipient of an NSF CAREER Award. He has been a visiting Scholar at the Royal Netherlands Institute of Sea Research, the University of Queensland, the University of Tasmania (Comet Fellow), and the Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology (Hanse Fellow), and the first Agassiz Lecturer at Harvard University. Dr. Lyons has served on numerous steering and organizing committees, including service to the Goldschmidt Conference of the Geochemical Society and the IODP and funding panels spanning four programs within NSF, two within NASA, and one within the American Chemical Society. Dr. Lyons has served in seven editorial positions, including a long-standing affiliation with Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, and serves on an AGU editorial advisory board. He is active within the NASA Astrobiology Institute, the Agouron Institute, and the Southern California geobiology community. Dr. Lyons received a B.S. in geological engineering from the Colorado School of Mines, a M.S. in geology from the University of Arizona, and a Ph.D. in geology/geochemistry from Yale University.


Dr. Kristine M. Larson
University of Colorado at Boulder

Kristine M. Larson is a professor of Aerospace Engineering Sciences at the University of Colorado, Boulder. Dr. Larson?s research focuses on using high-precision GPS techniques to address a range of geophysical issues that include measuring and interpreting crustal deformation as well as using geodetic techniques for measuring soil moisture variations, snow depth, and vegetation. She has studied plate boundary zone deformation in Alaska, Nepal, Tibet, Ethiopia, California, and Mexico. Dr. Larson?s research has also emphasized engineering development by pushing the temporal sampling of GPS to subdaily intervals for studies of earthquakes, volcanoes, and ice sheet dynamics. She served as editor of Geophysical Research Letters from 2002-2004. Dr. Larson received her A.B. in engineering sciences from Harvard and her Ph.D. in geophysics from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego.


Dr. Ho-kwang Mao
Carnegie Institution of Washington

Ho-kwang (Dave) Mao is a Geophysicist and Senior Staff Scientist at the Carnegie Institution of Washington, where he has been for his entire career. His research involves the development and application of ultra-high-pressure technology to physics, chemistry, materials sciences, geophysics, geochemistry, and planetary sciences. He is the recipient of numerous awards including the 2007 Inge Lehmann Medal from the American Geophysical Union and the 2005 Roebling Medal from the Mineralogical Society of America. Dr. Mao earned a B.S. in geology from the National Taiwan University in 1963 and a M.S. and Ph.D. in geology from the University of Rochester in 1966 and 1968.


Dr. Paul E. Olsen
Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University

Paul E. Olsen is the Storke Memorial Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Columbia University?s Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory, where he has been since 1984. His research focuses on the evolution of continental ecosystems, especially the pattern, causes and effects of climate change on geological time scales, mass extinctions, the effects of evolutionary innovations on biogeochemical cycles, and evolution of the Solar System as revealed by geological records. He is the author of over 170 publications and has appeared in numerous documentaries on the history of life and climate. He serves on the Board of Directors of the Drilling, Observation and Sampling of the Earths Continental Crust (DOSECC) and has served on numerous NSF panels and steering committees. He received a B.A. in geology and a Ph.D. in biology from Yale University in 1978 and 1984.


Dr. David R. Montgomery
University of Washington

David R. Montgomery is a Professor of Earth and Space Sciences at the University of Washington, where he leads the Geomorphological Research Group and is a member of the Quaternary Research Center. Dr. Montgomery?s research addresses fluvial and hillslope processes in mountain drainage basins, the evolution of mountain ranges (Cascades, Andes, and Himalaya), the analysis of digital topography, and the evolution and near-extirpation of salmon. Current research includes field projects in eastern Tibet and the Pacific Northwest of North America. Dr. Montgomery is the author of two popular books including the well-received Dirt: The Erosion of Civilizations (2008), which won the Washington State Book Award in General Nonfiction. He won a MacArthur Fellowship in 2008. Dr. Montgomery received a B.S. in geology from Stanford University in 1984 and a Ph.D. in geomorphology from the University of California, Berkeley in 1991.


Dr. Dongxiao Zhang
University of Southern California

Dongxiao Zhang is the Marshall Professor of Water Resources & Petroleum Engineering in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and the Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, where he has been since 2007. His research focuses on the stochastic uncertainty quantification for hydrology and petroleum reservoir simulations, multi-scale modeling and simulation of flow in porous media, and geological sequestration of carbon dioxide. He is a fellow of the Geological Society of America, the author of two books, and serves as Associate Editor for five journals including Water Resources Research and the Journal of Computational Geosciences. Dr. Zhang was a senior scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory (1996-2004) and held the Miller Chair at the Mewbourne School of Petroleum and Geological Engineering at the University of Oklahoma (2004-2007). He also served as a Chang Jiang (guest chair) Professor at Nanjing University and is a founding Associate Dean at the College of Engineering of Peking University in China. Dr. Zhang received a B.S. in engineering from Northeastern University, Shenyang, P. R. of China and a M.S. and Ph.D. in hydrology from the University of Arizona.