Zhan Receives 2016 Keiiti Aki Young Scientist Award

Zhongwen Zhan will receive the 2016 Keiiti Aki Young Scientist Award at the 2016 American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting, to be held 12–16 December in San Francisco, Calif. The award recognizes the scientific accomplishments of a young scientist who makes outstanding contributions to the advancement of seismology.


Dr. Zhongwen Zhan received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in the Special Class for the Gifted Young from the University of Science and Technology of China in Hefei, and his Ph.D. from the California Institute of Technology in 2013. As a graduate student, he received several outstanding student presentation awards from the AGU. After a 2-year postdoctoral appointment at the University of California, San Diego, he joined the Caltech Faculty in 2015.

Zhongwen has published an exceptional number of papers on a wide range of topics in both source and structural seismology. He has developed detailed images of rupture complexity for deep focus earthquakes and in doing so uncovered clear evidence for supershear rupture propagation based on the difference in pulse-width for downgoing versus surface-reflected phases. He has constrained the sharpness of seismic wavespeed anomalies in subduction zones and demonstrated that tomographic images greatly underpredict the strength of those anomalies. He is one of the first to demonstrate the existence of reflected body-wave arrivals in observations of the ambient seismic field using array beam-forming of ambient-field measurements to discern reflections off both the Moho and the core. While his research portfolio is already broad, he is working to broaden it further through studies of intermediate-depth earthquakes and the seismological signature of cryospheric processes.

Zhongwen Zhan is a creative and exceptionally productive scientist who is making significant contributions to a wide range of seismological problems. He is a worthy choice for the Aki award, which recognizes the significance of his early-career accomplishments, and anticipates further outstanding contributions in the future.

—Gregory C. Beroza, Stanford University, Stanford, Calif.


I am very honored to receive the Aki award of this year. I am deeply indebted to many mentors, collaborators, and friends. I thank Sidao Ni and Don Helmberger for bringing me to the field of seismology and teaching me the art of reading seismograms. I have benefited greatly from inspiring collaborations with Hiroo Kanamori, Mark Simons, Rob Clayton, Peter Shearer, and Victor Tsai over the years. I am also grateful for the very supportive environment at Caltech allowing me to pursue new research directions.

As a seismologist, I enjoy reading the wiggles. Nowadays, numerous seismograms can be accessed easily, thanks to the unselfish seismology community and progresses in technology. Meanwhile, the explosion of data also poses new challenges and opportunities to the old art of seismogram reading. I would like to thank all the pioneers, inside or outside the field of seismology, for developing new ways of analyzing large amounts of seismic waveforms. I hope more young seismologists can continue to read seismograms, invent new methods, and bring the art of seismogram reading to a new level.

—Zhongwen Zhan, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena