Behr Receives 2016 Jason Morgan Early Career Award

Whitney Behr will receive the 2016 Jason Morgan Early Career Award at the 2016 American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting, to be held 12–16 December in San Francisco, Calif. The award is for significant early-career contributions in Tectonophysics.


Whitney Behr has distinguished herself as a leading researcher in the field of lithospheric deformation. She is a great scientist with a keen ability to identify important problems and stands out in the breadth of her research, spanning investigations of the kinematics and mechanics of deformation in the continental lithosphere, experimental rock mechanics, and Quaternary geomorphology to constrain geologic fault slip rates. She possesses a unique combination of enthusiasm, scientific firepower, and a friendly frankness that promotes advancement in science. Her work ethic and intellect have led to novel papers on the origin of the lithosphere/asthenosphere boundary, the rheological structure of the lithospheric crust and mantle, and the role of grain size evolution on the rheological behavior of shear zones. Her research provides an excellent example of a 21st century approach to geology and geophysics; she uses a wide range of new techniques in both the field and the lab, constraining deformation processes at a broad range of spatial scales to investigate important problems related to the state of stress and deformation processes as a function of depth. Whitney’s combination of a strong background in structural geology with her excellent insights into how to apply state-of-the art analytical techniques has also led to important integrative papers on the strength and viscosity of the continental crust and lithosphere. Her scientific breadth is impressive for a scientist at her career stage. This attribute is exemplified by her contributions to our understanding of slip rates along the Southern San Andreas Fault. We all look forward to seeing the science Whitney takes on over the next 10 years. She is strongly deserving of the Morgan Award after such a fantastic start to her career.

—Greg Hirth, Brown University, Providence, R.I.


Sincerest thanks to Greg Hirth for nominating me for the Jason Morgan Award and to my additional letter writers. I am very honored to be receiving this recognition from AGU.

I owe this award to the wonderful foundation in geoscience I received as an undergraduate at Pasadena City College and Cal State Northridge, and as a Ph.D. student at University of Southern California (USC). I am especially grateful for the mentorship I received from my Ph.D. Advisor, John Platt, and my committee members Thorsten Becker, Greg Davis, Ken Hudnut, and Tom Hanks.

After graduating from USC, I spent one of the most productive years of my career as a postdoc at Brown University, where I benefited immensely from interacting with many people, but especially Greg Hirth and his research group, Terry Tullis, and Karen Fischer.

Since arriving at University of Texas at Austin in 2012, I’ve been very fortunate to connect with some exceptional faculty, postdocs, and students. I’d especially like to thank Mark Cloos for his mentorship, and for sharing his encyclopedic knowledge of a range of geoscience topics, Mark Helper for his collaborative spirit and for lending me and my students his exceptional skills in field geology, and Doug Smith for his petrological prowess and shared interest in all things microscopic.

Last but not least, I would have gotten nowhere without the support of my entire family, including my parents, my siblings, my partner Melissa, and our son Teddy.

Thank you again to AGU for this honor.

—Whitney Behr, University of Texas at Austin, Austin