Seth Stein

  • William Deering Professor, Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Weinberg College of Arts & Sciences

Seth Stein is Deering Professor of Geological Sciences at Northwestern. He graduated from MIT in 1975 (B.S) and Caltech (Ph.D) in 1978. His research interests are in plate tectonics, earthquake seismology, earthquake hazards, and space geodesy.

His current research focuses on the evolution of North America’s midcontinent rift and on earthquake hazard mitigation science and policy, including the fact that commonly used earthquake hazard mapping methods often fail to predict what happens in large destructive earthquakes.

He has been awarded the James B. Macelwane Medal of the American Geophysical Union, the George Woollard Award of the Geological Society of America, the Stephan Mueller Medal of the European Geosciences Union, the Price Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society, and a Humboldt Foundation Research Award. He has been elected a foreign member of the Academy of Europe, a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union and Geological Society of America, and named to the Institute for Scientific Information Highly Cited Researchers list.

He was one of the organizers of EarthScope, a national initiative to dramatically advance our knowledge of the structure and evolution of North America, served as Director of the UNAVCO consortium of universities using GPS for earth science, and been Visiting Senior Scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. He is the author of a new book “Playing against nature: integrating science and economics to mitigate natural hazards in an uncertain world,” a general audience book about earthquakes in the central U.S., a coauthor of a widely used seismology textbook, has edited four other books, and was editor of the Journal of Geophysical Research. He started Northwestern’s Environmental Science program, and authored more than 150 scientific publications. He is active in the geophysical community’s public education programs and works extensively with news media and museums, including helping design the Field Museum’s “Nature Unleashed” touring exhibit that has been seen by more than a million people. He also completed a national tour as an Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology/Seismological Society of America Distinguished Lecturer, speaking on “Giant earthquakes: why, where, when, and what we can do.”