UW News

May 3, 2007

Atwater named to National Academy of Sciences

Brian Atwater, an affiliate professor of Earth and space sciences and a geologist with the U.S. Geological Survey, this week was elected as a member of the National Academy of Sciences.

He is among 72 new members and 18 foreign associates from 12 countries elected to the National Academy on Tuesday in recognition of distinguished and continuing achievements in original research.

Atwater studies historically recent earthquakes and tsunamis and their inherent hazards. He is widely noted for work that uncovered evidence of a giant earthquake off the coast of Washington. Subsequent work with scientists from Japan found evidence in that country of a destructive tsunami wave with no known source, and that led to a determination that the wave was generated by the earthquake off Washington’s coast on Jan. 26, 1700. That earthquake has since been estimated at magnitude 9.0, which would place it on a par with the three or four most powerful earthquakes recorded in the last century.

Atwater received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Stanford University and a doctorate from the University of Delaware in 1980. He joined the UW faculty in 1986.

The National Academy, with a total active membership of 2,025, is a private organization of scientists and engineers dedicated to furthering the use of science for general welfare. It was established by Congress in 1863 to advise the federal government, upon request, on any matter involving science or technology.