First Paul Andrew Spudich Travel Grantee Completes Scientific Journey

SSA’s newest grant program sends early-career member to Osaka, Japan

Chunyang Ji, a postdoctoral scholar at North Carolina State University whose research focuses on the modeling and assessment of high-frequency ground motions, is the first SSA member to participate in a seismological meeting with the aid of a Paul Andrew Spudich Travel Grant. “It’s an honor to be one of the very first recipients of the Paul Andrew Spudich Grant. This award has encouraged me to continue pursuing a career in the fields of seismology and earthquake engineering,” Ji says. “This experience has shown me that SSA is such a supportive community. One day I hope to pass the support I have received to others.”

Ji, one of two members to receive the inaugural awards in March, applied her $2,000 grant toward travel to the 8th International Conference on Earthquake Geotechnical Engineering (8ICEGE) in Osaka, Japan in May. The early-career scientist was excited to visit the seismically active country, a longtime source of earthquake data used in her research. At 8ICEGE she presented her paper, “Current Limitations of Near-Surface Attenuation Modeling at High Frequencies,” to a diverse audience, including earthquake and geotechnical engineers, geologists and seismologists.

“One of the most memorable parts of the meeting was the opportunity to interact with giants in geotechnical earthquake engineering,” she says. “I had the chance to say hi and take a picture with the legend, Professor Kenji Ishihara. Moreover, I met many talented female researchers and professors who are inspiring role models.”

Keynote speakers Jorge Macedo and Ross W. Boulanger kicked off the conference, and its outstanding technical program on a wide range of earthquake source physics and ground motion prediction topics introduced Ji to new methods, tools and technologies to study earthquakes from different angles. “I am building my identity as an independent researcher,” she says. “Learning about the latest research projects will allow me to develop new ideas and inform my ongoing projects with the latest advances in the field.”

Welcoming applicants each February, the Paul Andrew Spudich Travel Grant program assists members who are just starting their careers in seismology. “This grant provides valuable opportunities for young students and early-career researchers to interact with colleagues and support one another,” Ji says, adding that she would “like to express my sincere appreciation for the donors’ generosity” that made her travel possible.

The awards are supported by SSA’s Paul Andrew Spudich Fund. Established in 2023 through an anonymous gift and aided by additional donations, the fund honors the life and accomplishments of Paul Andrew Spudich (1950-2019), a pioneering seismologist and beloved member of the SSA community. Grants are offered exclusively to early-career and student members whose research focuses on earthquake source physics or ground motion prediction, areas Spudich made important contributions to during his distinguished career with the U.S. Geological Survey.

“Paul Spudich’s legacy in seismology is characterized by groundbreaking research, dedication to public safety and a spirit of adventure that inspired colleagues and continues to inspire future generations in the field,” says Ilma del Carmen Juarez-Garfias, a doctoral student at Victoria University of Wellington who received a $2,300 Paul Andrew Spudich Travel Grant in March. The award will support her participation in the 7th edition of the school on Passive Imaging & Monitoring in Wave Physics: From Seismology to Ultrasound in Corsica, France in June.

Protecting the pipeline of seismologists remains a top priority at SSA. The newest addition to its grant program helps members like Ji and Juarez-Garfias overcome the financial obstacles that can stand in the way of their participation in scientific conferences. These experiences couldn’t be more important as they help members make progress on their research, explore new possibilities for their future careers and contribute to the SSA mission of advancing seismology worldwide.

“I want to extend my heartfelt thanks to the generous donors who supported this grant,” Juarez-Garfias says. “Their investment in young scientists like myself demonstrates a commitment to advancing scientific knowledge and fostering interdisciplinary collaboration.”

For more information, visit The Paul Andrew Spudich Travel Grant page.