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Richard Aster joins CSU Jan. 1 as the new head of Department of Geosciences

October 17, 2013

American geophysicist Richard Aster has been selected as the new head of the Department of Geosciences in CSU's Warner College of Natural Resources.

Rick Aster in Antarctica.He will begin his new role Jan. 1, and is coming to the university from the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology.

Aster will lead the Department in strengthening, diversifying, and expanding its academic and research programs – building the Department’s reputation for educating leading geoscience professionals and producing scientific contributions. He will also emphasize engagement of the Department’s many distinguished alumni and connecting them with opportunities to strengthen geosciences programs. Aster will succeed Interim Department Head John Ridley who will continue to serve as professor and Malcolm McCallum Chair of Economic Geology in the department.

'Extraordinarily impressed'

“I am extraordinarily impressed with the dedication and quality of the CSU Geosciences faculty, and with the many exciting opportunities that exist for advancing Geosciences here,” said Aster.

Aster has served as a professor of geophysics in New Mexico Tech’s Department of Earth and Environmental Science for the past 13 years, where he also served as Department Chair. He is also the founder and has for 15 years been the principal investigator for New Mexico Tech’s NSF- and DOE-supported PASSCAL Instrument Center, which supports diverse seismological studies around the world in association with the Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology (IRIS).  While at New Mexico Tech, Aster was a recipient of both the institute’s Faculty Award and Distinguished Research Award.

Aster is currently on the board of directors for the 107-year-old Seismological Society of America, where he served as president from 2009-2011.  He is a member of American Geophysical Union, the Geological Society of America, and a number of other Earth science societies and organizations.

'Outstanding record'

“Dr. Aster brings an outstanding record of academic and research excellence and shares our College’s vigorous passion for the natural world. He is an enthusiastic advocate for collaboration and innovation, who will be a wonderful leader for our excellent Department of Geosciences,” said Joyce Berry, dean of Warner College of Natural Resources.

Aster's research interests include seismic imaging, volcano seismology, microearthquake studies, novel uses of seismic background noise, seismic instrumentation, crustal and mantle seismology, and cryoseismology. He received the NSF Antarctic Service Medal for fieldwork and has participated in eight field excursions to Antarctica, including trips to Marie Byrd Land, Erebus Volcano, and the South Pole. Aster Glacier in the Ellsworth Mountains of Antarctica is named in his honor.  

Published works

As an author, Aster’s published works include the internationally used textbook and reference volume Parameter Estimation and Inverse Problems, as well as more than 100 articles in peer-reviewed journals. Most recently, he co-authored “A rootless rockies—Support and lithospheric structure of the Colorado Rocky Mountains inferred from CREST and TA seismic data.”The paper outlines Aster and his co-authors’ use of seismic tomography to reveal the mantle support mechanisms underpinning Colorado’s highest terrain. His first CSU-attributed work “Multiple fluvial processes detected by riverside seismic and infrasound monitoring of a controlled flood in the Grand Canyon,” recently published in Geophysical Research Letters, describes how seismology can aid in identifying and characterizing processes occurring during river floods.

Aster earned his doctorate in earth sciences from Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego in 1991; his master’s in geophysics from University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1986 and his bachelor’s in electrical and computer engineering with additional major completed in physics at University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1983.