UW News

May 4, 2017

UW seismologist John Vidale elected to National Academy of Sciences

UW News

John E. Vidale, a University of Washington professor of Earth and space sciences, is among 84 new members and 21 foreign associates elected this week as members of the National Academy of Sciences. Academy members are recognized for their distinguished and continuing achievements in original research, according to a news release from the academy.

mug shot of John Vidale

John Vidale

Vidale completed his undergraduate degree at Yale University and earned his doctorate in seismology from the California Institute of Technology. He began his career at the University of California, Santa Cruz, then worked for the U.S. Geological Survey in Menlo Park before joining the University of California, Los Angeles, faculty from 1995 until 2006, when he joined the UW.

Vidale studies Earth’s interior, including earthquakes and volcanoes. Some of his research at the UW has looked at how volcanoes ‘scream’ before they erupt, how silent earthquakes release energy beneath Puget Sound, and performing a seismic ultrasound to map the volcanic plumbing beneath Mount St. Helens. He is director of the UW’s M9 Project, an interdisciplinary effort to prepare for a magnitude-9 earthquake.

Vidale is also active in applied work and public communication about natural hazards. Since 2006 he has directed the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network, which tracks all seismic activity in the region, and serves as Washington’s state seismologist. He also is involved in the current effort to build a West Coast earthquake early warning system, which would provide seconds to minutes of warning for the damaging effects of a large earthquake.

Vidale was previously elected as a fellow of the American Geophysical Union. Other honors include the Macelwane Medal for early-career geoscientists, a Gutenberg Lecturer from the AGU and an outstanding researcher award from the UW College of the Environment.

The newly elected scientists bring the total number of active academy members across all of science to 2,290 and the total number of foreign associates to 475. Vidale’s selection brings to 75 the total number UW faculty named to the National Academy of Sciences.