SSA Announces 2017 Award Winners

11 May 2017–SSA is pleased to announce the recipients of several of the Society’s awards for 2017. The winners of the Harry Fielding Reid Medal, the Charles F. Richer Early Career Award, the Frank Press Public Service Award, and the Distinguished Service to SSA Award are among the highest honors conferred by the Society.

George Plafker

The Reid Medal recipient is George Plafker of the U.S. Geological Survey, for his transformative work on megathrust earthquakes in subduction zones. Plafker and his colleagues did painstaking fieldwork after the magnitude 9.2 1964 Alaskan earthquake, covering hundreds of kilometers of Alaskan shoreline in small boats, helicopters, and float-equipped aircraft. His research on the 1964 quake and subsequent re-examination of the 1960 magnitude 9.5 Chilean earthquake helped to launch a new field of megathrust earthquake geology.

In his nomination for the Medal, Plafker’s colleagues noted that his thorough and imaginative research has had an impact on fields from earthquake engineering and popular writing about earthquakes and tsunamis. His work has highlighted the potential seismic risk of key regions such as the Cascadia subduction zone off the west coast of the United States and Canada, for instance.

Annemarie Baltay

The Richter Award recipient is Annemarie Baltay of the U.S. Geological Survey. Baltay’s research has focused on various methods for estimating earthquake source parameters—in particular, radiated seismic energy and stress drop—and how they control the amplitudes of strong ground motion as functions of ground-motion frequency and earthquake magnitude. In her thesis work, she analyzed data from recent great earthquakes including the 2004 magnitude 9.1 Sumatra and 2011 magnitude 9.0 Tohoku-oki events.

As part of a “new wave” of interest in earthquake source parameters, Baltay has made valuable contributions to the Next Generation of Attenuation (NGA) engineering seismology ground motion models and the Extreme Ground Motion (ExGM) project, her colleagues noted in their support for the Richter award.

Lori Dengler

The Press Award recipient is Lori Dengler of Humboldt State University. For more than 30 years, Dengler has been a tireless force in preparing coastal communities in California and around the world for tsunamis. She participated in post-event field teams studying tsunamis in 1998 in Papua New Guinea, 2004 in Indonesia, 2010 Chile and 2011 in Japan, among others, and as a result was a coordinating co-author on the UNESCO-IOC’s International Post-Tsunami Survey Field Guide. For the U.S., Dengler served as a member of the group that developed the National Tsunami Hazard Mitigation Program and authored the program’s initial Strategic Implementation Plan for Mitigation Projects as the Scientific Lead from California.

In 2015, Dengler co-authored The Extraordinary Voyage of Kamome: A Tsunami Boat Comes Home, a bilingual Japanese-English children’s book about a small fishing boat that was swept across the Pacific Ocean by the 2011 Japan tsunami and came ashore in Crescent City, California two years later. The book and a surrounding outreach project are the basis of a new school curriculum in California on earthquakes and tsunami preparedness.

Keith Knudsen

The Distinguished Service Award recipient is Keith Knudsen of the U.S. Geological Survey. In their nomination of Knudsen for the award, five past presidents of SSA commended him for his advice on multiple issues related to SSA operations as SSA Secretary from 2007 to 2016.

In particular, Knudsen was recognized from his work in reviewing and updating the SSA Bylaws and Board Policy manual; his role as chair of the Management Committee in instituting a more formal annual review of the Society’s Executive Director and in serving as a member of the 2015 Executive Director Search Committee; and his role in developing a new strategic plan for SSA in 2012.

The four awards will be presented at Seismology of the Americas, a joint meeting of the SSA and the Latin American and Caribbean Seismological Commission (LACSC), to be held 14-17 May 2018 in Miami, Florida.

Nominations for these SSA awards are solicited from SSA members to be sent to the SSA Secretary by the due date of 15 February of each year. To learn more about the nominating process, please visit the SSA Awards page.