I attended Cambridge University as an undergraduate; took my PhD at Cornell University within the Consortium for Continental Reflection profiling (COCORP) then returned to Cambridge to work with the British Institutions Reflection Profiling Syndicate (BIRPS), latterly as a Royal Society Research Fellow. In 1990 I joined Stanford University, where I continue research into crustal structure and evolution.
I study the growth, tectonic evolution, and deformation of the continents (see my Google Scholar profile). My research group undertakes field experiments in exemplary areas such as, currently, the Tibet plateau (formed by collision between Indian and Asia - we're working on the northern, Kunlun, and the southern, Himalayan, boundaries of the Plateau); the actively extending Basin-&-Range province of western North America (we are working on the Ruby Range Metamorphic Core Complex in Nevada, and the leaky transform beneath the Salton Trough in southernmost California); and in recent years the Ethiopian rift valley (where the African continent is being pulled apart) and the Mariana island chain (where new crust is forming beneath active volcanoes). We create controlled seismic sources—explosions—to drive sound waves into the Earth, and from our recordings of reflected waves at distant receivers, we form images of the deep structure and measure the physical properties of the continents. We also use the transmitted sound waves from distant earthquakes, the temporal fluctuations of natural electrical fields in the Earth, and small spatial variations of Earth's gravitational and magnetic fields for the same purposes. We maintain an ultra-low frequency electromagnetic (ULFEM) network of stations on the San Andreas fault system in the San Francisco Bay Area in an attempt to learn whether or not ULFEM earthquake precursors exist.
I direct the geophysics undergraduate program, which we have recently re-invigorated with the development of a new course sequence. I co-lead the School of Earth Sciences Undergraduate Research Program that now involves 25 undergraduates each summer, drawn from across the university to all four Departments of the School of Earth Sciences. Over the last decade I have personally mentored 14 undergraduates (7 women) in research projects that have led to 4 undergraduate-authored peer-reviewed publications. I am recipient of the 2008 Allan V. Cox Medal for fostering undergraduate research. I teach graduate classes in seismic reflection methodology (3-quarter sequence), an upper-level undergraduate class in global tectonics and a complementary multi-day tectonics field trip to view large-scale structure of the western USA. I include undergraduates in my research teams in our field experiments, both in the western USA and internationally, and invite applications from Stanford students. My former graduate students are now professors in universities in the USA and abroad, research scientists at the U.S. Geological Survey, and exploration geophysicists in a range of oil companies and their service industries.
I am an Advisor to SINOPROBE, China's national program to explore the deep structure of their lithosphere. I was an NSF-MARGINS Distinguished Lecturer, 2008-2010, and served on the 2008 NSF-MARGINS planning committee for the "Second Decade of MARGINS". Convenor, 25th Himalaya-Karakoram-Tibet Workshop, (2010); NSF Workshop, "Future directions for NSF-sponsored geoscience research in the Himalaya/Tibet" (2010); Earthscope Workshop, "3D seismic reflection at the SAFOD site" (2005); U.S.-Africa Workshop, "Anatomy of Continental Rifts", Addis Ababa (2004); NSF-IFREE-MARGINS workshop, "Izu-Bonin-Mariana Subduction Factory" (2002); "The George Thompson Symposium: The Lithosphere of Western North America and its Geophysical Characterization", Stanford University (2001). Member, NSF EAR Continental Dynamics Review Panel (1998-2004).