Robert W. Graves

William B. Joyner Memorial Lectures | 2019 Recipient

The Earthquake Engineering Research Institute (EERI) and the Seismological Society of America (SSA) are pleased to announce that U.S. Geological Survey research geophysicist Robert W. Graves has been named the 2019 William B. Joyner Lecturer.

Graves will deliver the Joyner Lecture at the EERI 2019 Annual Meeting to be held 5-8 March 2019 in Vancouver, Canada, and the 2019 SSA Annual Meeting to be held 23-26 April 2019.

The lectureship is jointly awarded by EERI and SSA to those who have provided outstanding earth science contributions to the theory and practice of earthquake engineering or outstanding earthquake engineering contributions to the direction and focus of earth science research—together with demonstrated skills of communication at the interface of earthquake science and earthquake engineering.

The lecture honors the distinguished career of William B. Joyner at the U.S. Geological Survey and his abiding commitment to continuing communication and education at the interface between research findings of earthquake science and the practical realities of earthquake engineering.

At the USGS Pasadena office, Graves’ main area of study is the analysis and characterization of strong ground shaking due to earthquakes. Graves’ research considers the processes of how earthquake ruptures start and propagate across the fault, how the resulting seismic waves propagate through the Earth’s crust, and how strong the ground shaking will be at a particular location. This work relies heavily on analysis and interpretation of ground motion recordings from past earthquakes, as well as high-performance computer simulation and modeling.

In his nomination for the award, Graves was commended for his work in significantly advancing ground motion simulations toward practical applications, and in working across the seismology-engineering interface to solicit feedback and to continually refine his simulation methods. Graves has become one of the key leaders in the field of 3D ground motion simulations, his colleagues noted, citing in particular his accomplishments in developing efficient modeling algorithms that allow for large-scale 3D simulations to be computed on desktop platforms.

Graves has participated in numerous Southern California Earthquake Center (SCEC) and USGS sponsored projects, including the 3D waveform modeling program and the refinement of the SCEC Community Velocity Model. Work on these projects involves the oversight and coordination of large scale simulations of earthquake ruptures as well as the computation of seismic hazard using physics-based models in the CyberShake project. Graves is one of the founding architects of the SCEC Broadband Simulation Platform, and continues to update and maintain numerous simulation codes on the Platform.

As a consulting seismologist for nearly 20 years before joining the USGS, Graves generated near-fault ground motions for various engineering projects, including the FEMA/SAC Steel Project, Caltrans bridges in Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco, and bridges in Japan, as well as providing ground motions for use in the Next Generation of Ground-Motion Attenuation Models (NGA)-West and NGA-East projects.

Graves is a member of the American Geophysical Union, EERI and SSA, where he served on the Board of Directors from 2009 to 2012.

For more information about the Joyner Lecture Award, visit the EERI website at, or the SSA website at