Tsai Receives 2012 Keiiti Aki Young Scientist Award

Victor C. Tsai received the 2012 Keiiti Aki Young Scientist Award at the 2012 AGU Fall Meeting, held 3–7 December in San Francisco, Calif. The award recognizes the scientific accomplishments of a young scientist who makes outstanding contributions to the advancement of seismology.


Tsai Victor Tsai is the well-deserved winner of the 2012 Keiiti Aki Young Scientist Award. He received his bachelor’s degree from the California Institute of Technology, then went to Harvard for graduate school, where he received his Ph.D. in 2009. He did a Mendenhall postdoc at the U.S. Geological Survey in Golden, Colo., for 2 years, then returned to Caltech as an assistant professor last year. Victor has worked on an incredible range of topics, including the 2004 and 2012 Sumatra earthquakes, glacial earthquakes and more general problems of glacier physics, microseism generation and ambient noise cross-correlation theory, river turbulence, and tsunami modeling. All of his research is elegant and theoretically rigorous. Victor has 26 papers to date, including 7 this year alone. He already has a substantial body of work, which promises an outstanding career.

PETER M. SHEARER, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla


I am honored to receive the Aki Award, but I would not be receiving this award without the benefit of many collaborations and inspirations as well as extensive mentoring and infrastructural, personal, and financial support. Although there are more individuals to thank than can be listed here, special thanks are due to Jim Rice, Hiroo Kanamori, Dave Stevenson, and Göran Ekström, who have all been irreplaceable mentors. I am also indebted to many other teachers, colleagues, and friends and to my parents, who have inspired in me a curiosity about the world, taught me the importance of hard work and persistence, supported my endeavors, and provided unimaginably rich opportunities throughout my life.

I especially appreciate this recognition by the AGU Seismology section because I would not call myself a traditional seismologist. My interests have often been on the fringes of seismology, including some topics that are not seismological and others that will likely never be more than a curiosity. Yet it is difficult to predict what will be useful many years later, and I feel fortunate to have been encouraged to follow some of my crazy ideas. While a number of these ideas have led nowhere, some of my least conventional and least cited efforts are ones that I am most proud of. Perhaps not surprisingly, I have also found a correlation between the difficulty my papers have had in peer review and how exciting I thought the results were.

All this is to say that I hope tomorrow’s young scientists will have similar opportunities and that they have the courage to explore their own interesting ideas. I hope that they will be allowed to take risks, continue to explore curiosity-driven science, and be able to think about problems that are not fashionable or challenge the current scientific consensus.

VICTOR C. TSAI, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena