Charles F. Richter Early-Career Award

Charles Richter with seismometer he kept in his living room, 1963. Image courtesy of Caltech Archives.

Established in 2005, the Charles F. Richter Early-Career Award is part of SSA’s longstanding commitment to supporting the next generation of seismologists. The award honors outstanding contributions to the goals of the Society by a member early in her or his career and provides recipients with a $3,000 cash award from the William B. Joyner Memorial Fund.

Award Criteria

The Richter Award honors outstanding contributions to the goals of the Society by a member early in their career and is given no more than once a year.

Read about past recipients here.

Award Eligibility

Nominees must satisfy the following criteria: 1) they must be regular or honorary members of the Society in good standing and 2) their most recent academic degree must have been awarded no more than six years prior to 18 April of the year in which they receive the award. (Family or medical leave, if provided by the candidate’s institution and taken by the nominee during this six-year period, can extend the six-year period.) No individual who is a member, member-elect or officer of the Board of Directors at the time of the nomination deadline shall be eligible for nomination.

Nomination Procedure

The chief nominator must be an SSA member who is eligible to submit a nomination. Any member of SSA may nominate a candidate for this award, with the exception of members of the Richter subcommittee, SSA Board of Directors and SSA Award Encouragement Committee.

The nomination package should contain: 1) a letter of nomination no more than two pages long that establishes the nominee’s eligibility and summarizes the nominee’s significant accomplishments, 2) a curriculum vitae including bibliography, 3) two to four supporting letters no more than two pages long, including at least two letters from individuals who are not currently employed at the nominee’s current institution nor the institution from which the nominee received their most recent degree. Any unsuccessful nomination may be considered again in the following year’s award cycle without resubmission of the nomination package if the nominee still meets eligibility requirements and their reconsideration is requested by a nominator before 30 September of that year. To be reconsidered in subsequent years (beyond the year immediately following the original nomination), a new nomination package must be submitted. The Executive Director will contact nominators via email prior to 30 September to confirm willingness for reconsideration of a package for a second year.

Awardee Selection

The Richter Subcommittee will seek one qualified recipient for the award to recommend to the Board. If the subcommittee feels there is no qualified recipient, they will recommend that no award be conferred that year. If the subcommittee cannot decide between two

nominees, the subcommittee may forward two names to the Board for vote. After making its selection, the Subcommittee should write a letter to the Board containing: 1) a list of all nominees, 2) the proposed recipient, 3) some text briefly explaining the nominee’s characteristics that justify the subcommittee’s decision 4) optionally, if deemed necessary, some text listing in general terms, without naming names, the reason the proposed recipient was preferable to the other candidates and 5) a brief description of the selection process. The subcommittee will provide this letter to the HC Chair who will forward the letter and nomination package for the proposed recipient to the Executive Director. The Board will vote up or down on the proposed recipient.

The HC does not review the Subcommittee decisions, except in the case that two nominations are forwarded for vote. The HC may review the procedures and/or act in an advisory capacity to the Subcommittee. The HC, the SSA Board and staff should keep names of nominees and nomination materials private.

Subcommittee Membership

Six persons, including the chair, serve on this subcommittee. All subcommittee members must be SSA members. One member of the subcommittee, preferably the chair, should also be a member of the HC. Subcommittee membership may include no more than two past Richter Award recipients and would ideally include a mix of mid to late career members. No person eligible for the Richter Award may sit on the subcommittee. Normal term of service is two years, with the chair serving for two years.

Deadline and More Details

Nominations for all SSA awards should be sent to the SSA Secretary by 30 September. Electronic submissions should be e-mailed in .TXT, .PDF or .DOC files to awards@seismosoc.org.

For more information, see the SSA Honors Program guide. Questions may be directed to the Chair of the Honors Committee, Heather DeShon (hdeshon@smu.edu). Please list Richter Award – Question as the subject line.

2021 Charles F. Richter Early-Career Award

Seyed Mousavi
“I am thoroughly honored and humbled to receive this award,” said Seved Mostafa Musavi

Seyed Mostafa Mousavi, a research scientist at Google and an adjunct professor at Stanford University, has conducted pioneering works in the emerging field of machine learning applications in seismology. He has developed algorithms to solve multiple challenging seismological research problems, including earthquake source depth classification, earthquake signal detection, location determination, magnitude estimation, event discrimination, and seismic wave arrival time picking.

In addition to his impressive body of work, Mousavi is also known for developing multiple approaches to “denoising,” or separating earthquake signal from “noise” in a seismogram. His techniques have been used on seismic data from seafloor cables, for improving nuclear test-ban treaty monitoring and for monitoring earthquakes in dense urban environments, among other applications.

“Clearly this is the future of empirical network seismology and Dr. Mousavi is at its leading edge.”–University of Memphis Professor Charles Langston