Earth and Planetary Sciences Department

      Earth and Marine Sciences Building

      University of California, Santa Cruz

      1156 High Street

      Santa Cruz, CA 95064

      (831) 459-3164, FAX (831) 459-3074,




B.S. (Geomechanics), with Highest Distinction, University of Rochester, New York, 1978

M.S. (Geophysics) California Institute of Technology, 1980

Ph.D. (Geophysics) California Institute of Technology, 1983

Thesis Title: Analysis of Upper and Lower Mantle Structure Using Shear Waves


Professional Employment


Distinguished Professor, Earth and Planetary Sciences Department, UCSC, 2000-present

Professor, Earth and Planetary Sciences Department, UCSC, 1989-2000

Director, Center for Studies of Imaging and Dynamics of the Earth, 2007-present

Associate Dean for Academic Personnel in Mathematics, Physical and Biological Sciences Division 4/2003-6/2005

Founding Director, Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics, UCSC, 1/2000-8/2005

Chairman, Earth Science Department, University of California, Santa Cruz, 1994-2000

Director, Institute of Tectonics, University of California, Santa Cruz, 1990-1994

Associate Director, Institute of Tectonics, University of California, Santa Cruz, 1995-2000

Chair, Advisory Committee, Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics, 1997-2000

Associate Director, Institute for Geophysics and Planetary Physics (UCSC), 1994-2000

Associate Professor, University of Michigan, 1988-1989

Director, Seismographic Station, Ann Arbor, Michigan, 1987-1989

Assistant Professor, University of Michigan, 1984-1988

Postdoctoral Research Associate, California Institute of Technology, 1983

Consultant, Woodward Clyde Consultants, Pasadena, 1981-1984

Consultant, Rockwell International Science Center, 1982-1983


Academic Honors


Harry Fielding Reid Medal, Seismological Society of America, 2014

Elected Member, National Academy of Sciences, 2014

Alumni Achievement Award, Earth and Environmental Sciences Department, University of Rochester, 2013

Gutenberg Lecturer of Seismology Section, Fall Meeting American Geophysical Union, 2011

Elected Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science, 2009

Elected Fellow, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 2008

Most Cited Paper 2004-2007 Award, Physics of the Earth and Planetary Interiors, 2007

Contributor to issue of Phi Kappa Phi Forum issue in Natural Disasters which received 2007 APEX Awards Grand Award for Writing

ProvostŐs Lecturer, SUNY Stony Brook, 2004

Selected for Inclusion in Highly-Cited Website of top 250 Geosciences Researchers 2003

Lifetime National Associate of the National Academies of Science 2002

Promoted to Professor Above Scale and informal title of Distinguished Professor 2000

AGU EditorŐs Citation for Excellence in Refereeing, 1998

U.S. Delegation to Seismic Screening CTBT Workshop, Beijing, China, 1997

Air Force Technical Applications Center Plaque of Appreciation, 1997

Taiwan National Research Council Visiting Senior Scholar, 1997

UCSC Natural Sciences Outstanding Professor Award, 1997

Japan Society for Promotion of Science Visiting Scholar, 1992

UCSC Student Alumni Council Favorite Professor Award, 1992

Fellow, American Geophysical Union, 1991

Macelwane Medal, American Geophysical Union, 1991

Shell Faculty Fellow, University of Michigan, 1985-1988

Sigma Xi, University of Michigan, 1986

Sloan Fellow, University of Michigan, 1985-1987

NSF Presidential Young Investigator, University of Michigan, 1985-1990

Lilly Fellow, University of Michigan, 1984-1985

National Science Foundation Graduate Fellowship, 1978-1981

Gutenberg Fellow, California Institute of Technology, 1978-1979

Tau Beta Pi, University of Rochester, 1978

Phi Beta Kappa, University of Rochester, 1978

Wilson Fellow, University of Rochester, 1974-1978


Professional Service


National Proposal Review Panels


DOE/Air Force Research Laboratory External Reviewer, 2003, 2005, 2006

Defense Threat Reduction Agency Review Panel, 1999

Nuclear Treaty Program Office Review Panel, 1998

National Science Foundation CSEDI Panel, 1996

Phillips Laboratory (DOE/AFTAC) Review Panel, 1994

National Science Foundation Panel on Recompetition 2011-2012

National Science Foundation Geophysics Panel 1990-1993

National Science Foundation Continental Dynamics Panel 1993

Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR) 1993

DARPA Proposal Review Panel 1991

Air Force Geophysics Laboratory (AFGL/DARPA) Review Panel, 1988-1992 (Chairman)

United States Geological Survey (USGS) Review Panel 1988-1991

National Research Council, Associateship Program Panel 1987-1989


National/International Committees


AFTAC Air Force Technical Application Center Seismic Review Panel, 2003-present

AFTAC Air Force Technical Application Center Seismic Review Panel, 1987-1997

AGU JGR Solid Earth Editor Search Committee 2008-2009

AGU Waldo Smith Medal Selection Committee 2005-2007

AGU Union Session Co-Organizer (Tohoku Earthquake) 2011 Fall Meeting

AGU Union Session Co-Organizer (Post-Perovskite) 2005 Joint Meeting

AGU Union Session Co-Organizer (Post-Perovskite) 2004 Fall Meeting

AGU Fellows Selection Committee, 2003-2004

AGU Lehmann Medal Selection Committee, 1998-2000

AGU Mineral and Rock Physics Committee, 1996-1998

AGU Secretary, U.S. Committee for Studies of the Earth's Deep Interior (SEDI) 1988-1990

AGU Chairman, U.S. Committee for Studies of the Earth's Deep Interior (SEDI) 1990-1992

AGU Seismology Session Chairman, Spring Meeting, 1987-1988

Caltech Visiting Committee for Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences, 1999-2007

Caltech Chair, Tectonic Center Review Committee, 2003

COMPRES Advisory Committee, 2011-2014

Earthscope Facility Executive Committee/Management Team, 1/1/2005-12/31/2007

IASPEI Second Vice President, 2011-2012

IASPEI Executive Committee, 2007-2011

IASPEI Co-Chair, Commission on Earth Structure and Geodynamics, 2003-2007

IASPEI Commission on Physical Properties of Materials of the Earth's Interior 1991-1995

IFREE External Review Committee, 2006

IRIS Co-Chair, GSN Quality Panel, 2010-2011

IRIS Chair, Planning Committee 1/1/2010-12/31/2010

IRIS, Editor, Science Plan for Seismology, 2008-2009

IRIS Member, Earthscope Facility Executive Committee, 1/1/2005-12/31/2007

IRIS Chair, Board of Directors, 1/1/2005-12/31/2007

IRIS Member, Planning Committee 1/1/2005-12/31/2010

IRIS Chair, GSN Standing Committee, 1/1/2003-12/31/2004

IRIS Member, Coordinating Committee, 2003-2005

IRIS Chair, GSN Design Goal Subcommittee, 2001-2002

IRIS USArray Planning Committee, 2001

IRIS Member of GSN Standing Committee 1999-2001

IRIS Member of Executive Committee, 1989-1990

IRIS Secretary of Standing Committee for the GSN 1985-1987

IRIS Member of Board of Directors 1984-2004

LLNL, External Review Committee, Earth Sciences, 2010

LLNL, External Review Committee, Physical and Life Sciences Directorate, standing, 2013

NAS/NRC Chairman, Panel on New Research Opportunities in Earth Sciences, 2009-2011

NAS/NRC Chairman, Committee on Seismology, 1998-2001

NAS/NRC Chairman, Panel on CTBT Research Program, 1996-1997

NAS/NRC Chairman, Panel Reviewing Air Force Seismology Research Programs, 1995-1996

NAS/NRC Chairman, Panel on Seismic Monitoring of Nuclear Testing Treaties, 1994-1995

NAS/NRC Member Committee on Seismology, 1992-1998

NAS/NRC Committee on Solid Earth Science, Editorial Staff for the Report

      "Solid Earth Sciences and Society", National Academy Press, 1993.

NSF Coordinating Committee for U.S. National SEDI Committee 1991-1993

NSF Organizing Committee for Active Tectonics Initiative 1993-1994

NSF EAR Committee of Visitors 1998

NSF Panel on Recompetion 2011-2012

SSA Secretary, Eastern Seismological Society of America, 1988-1989

UC Berkeley External Review of Earth Sciences, 2009

UC Search Committee for UC Riverside IGPP Director, 1999-2000

UC Member of Researchers for Earthquake Science California Universities (RESCU)

USGS Advisory Committee for National Seismic Network 1988-1992


Editorial Appointments


Associate Editor, Geophysical Research Letters, 1988-1990

Editor for Seismology, Eos, American Geophysical Union, 1989-1991

Advisory Editorial Board, Physics of the Earth and Planetary Interiors, 1986-present

Guest Editor, Geophysical Research Letters, Special issue on Geophysics of the Core and       Core-Mantle Boundary, 1986

Associate Editor, Journal of Geophysical Research, 1990-1992

Associate Editor, International Handbook of Earthquake and Engineering Seismology, 2002

Guest Co-Editor, Phys. Earth Planet. Inter., 2010 Special issue on Transport Properties in the Lower Mantle

Guest Chief-Editor, Bull. Seism. Soc. Amer., 2011-2013 Special issue on Tohoku earthquake.


Professional Organizations


Society of Exploration Geophysicists, 1978-2010

Seismological Society of America, 1978-present

American Geophysical Union, 1978-present (Fellow - 1991)

American Association of Professional Geologists, 1979-1986

Royal Astronomical Society, 1979-present (Fellow - 1984)

American Association for the Advancement of Science, 1981-present (Fellow - 2009)

New York Academy of Science, 1991-1993

American Academy of Arts and Sciences 2008-present (Fellow - 2008)


Principal Research Interests


Seismology, structure of the interior of the Earth, earthquake and explosion source physics, tectonics, wave propagation, mantle dynamics, earthquake forecasting and hazard mitigation.



Thorne Lay is author or co-author of 405 research publications including 1 textbook, 1 monograph, 1 disciplinary book, 1 edited monograph, 280 publications in refereed books and professional journals, and 120 technical reports, book reviews, news items and conference proceedings. In addition, he is author or co-author on 377+ published abstracts for meeting presentations, and he was content consultant for a book on the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami.