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Martin Chapman awarded Jesuit Seismological Association Award for earthquake research

February 18, 2016

Man stands outside of a bomb shelter from the Cold War era.
Martin Chapman, a research associate professor with the Virginia Tech Department of Geosciences, stands outside a former Cold War-era bomb shelter that has served as a seismological testing site since the early 1960s. It is one of the longest running test sites of its kind in the nation.

Martin Chapman of the Virginia Tech Department of Geosciences, part of the College of Science, is the recipient of the 2015 Jesuit Seismological Association Award for Contributions to Observational Seismology.

Director of the Virginia Tech Seismological Observatory, Martin recently was honored by the Eastern Section of the Seismological Society of America for his “significant contributions to our knowledge of intra-plate earthquakes in the central and eastern United States and the associated seismic hazard.”

The award reflects the legacy of early 20th century Jesuit seismologists who were responsible for operating many seismological observatories around the world, performing much pioneering research into earthquakes.

The association said Martin “excels in many different research areas involving observational seismology and is well grounded in theory and in the statistical analysis of seismic data. Martin has made significant contributions to our knowledge of the crustal structure associated with several intra-plate seismic zones, earthquake ground motions and seismic hazard.” Martin has served as president of the Eastern Section of the Seismological Society of America and as editor for the Eastern Section Pages of Seismological Research Letters since 1998.

He earned his bachelor’s degree, a master’s degree, and a Ph.D., all from Virginia Tech, all in geophysics.

In his acceptance speech, Chapman said he was inspired to attend Virginia Tech and study geophysics after experiencing a minor earthquake as a youth in 1969. As a student, Chapman was mentored by then Virginia Tech professor Gilbert Bollinger from first-year classes to beyond his doctorate degree.

Bollinger was the first recipient of the Jesuit Seismological Association Award in 1994.

“I have had the privilege to work with outstanding students and research associates,” Chapman said as he accepted the honor. “Our work has usually been near the interface between earthquake seismology and earthquake engineering. Mating theory and observation advances understanding, and I hope that I have been able to make some useful contributions to our science.”

Dedicated to its motto, Ut Prosim (That I May Serve), Virginia Tech takes a hands-on, engaging approach to education, preparing scholars to be leaders in their fields and communities. As the commonwealth’s most comprehensive university and its leading research institution, Virginia Tech offers 240 undergraduate and graduate degree programs to more than 31,000 students and manages a research portfolio of $513 million. The university fulfills its land-grant mission of transforming knowledge to practice through technological leadership and by fueling economic growth and job creation locally, regionally, and across Virginia.

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