Seismologist Emily Brodsky awarded Nemmers Prize in Earth Sciences

Emily Brodsky
Emily Brodsky (photo by Carolyn Lagattuta)

Emily Brodsky, professor of Earth and planetary sciences at UC Santa Cruz, has received the 2022 Nemmers Prize in Earth Sciences, awarded by Northwestern University for achievement and work of lasting significance in the field of Earth sciences.

The prize recognizes Brodsky for her “fundamental, transdisciplinary contributions to understanding the physics of earthquake networks at all scales.” In addition to an award of $200,000, she will interact with Northwestern faculty and students through lectures, conferences, or seminars.

As an earthquake physicist, Brodsky studies the mechanics underlying earthquakes, addressing questions about the processes that trigger earthquakes and the constraining forces and processes that occur inside a fault zone during slip. These studies require expertise in a variety of geoscience disciplines, including seismology, hydrogeology, structural geology, and rock mechanics.

After the devastating 2011 Tohoku earthquake off the coast of Japan, Brodsky helped organize and lead a major international expedition to study the fault. Her recent work includes important findings about earthquakes induced by human activities in which fluids are injected deep underground (e.g., hydraulic fracturing, wastewater disposal, and geothermal wells). She is currently chair of SZ4D, a coordinated research initiative to investigate the processes that underlie subduction zone hazards.

Brodsky earned her A.B. from Harvard University in 1995 and Ph.D. in geophysics from the California Institute of Technology in 2001. A fellow of the American Geophysical Union (AGU) and the Geological Society of America (GSA), she has received many awards and honors for her work, including the 2008 James Macelwane Medal from the AGU, the 2019 Woollard Award from the GSA, and the 2021 Price Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society. Brodsky has served on the boards of directors of the Southern California Earthquake Center (SCEC) and the Incorporated Research Institutes for Seismology (IRIS). She has published over 130 peer-reviewed articles and has presented over 150 invited lectures in 30 states and 13 countries, and her work has been widely featured in the media.

Northwestern University awards the Nemmers Prizes biennially in the areas of Earth sciences, economics, and mathematics. The Nemmers Prizes are named for the family of Erwin Nemmers, a former faculty member in Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management from 1957 to 1986.