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Geophysics researcher honored with Charles F. Richter Early Career Award

Mousavi, a research scientist at Google and adjunct professor at Stanford, has conducted pioneering works in the emerging field of machine learning applications in seismology. 

BY Seismological Society of America
ClockJune 01, 2021

Seyed Mostafa Mousavi has been honored with the Seismological Society of America's (SSA) 2021 Charles F. Richter Early Career Award for his innovative work developing machine-learning-based methodologies for earthquake signal processing. 

Seyed Mostafa Mousavi
Seyed Mostafa Mousavi

Mousavi, a research scientist at Google and an adjunct professor at Stanford University, will receive the Richter Award at the 2022 SSA Annual Meeting.

Mousavi has conducted pioneering works in the emerging field of machine learning applications in seismology. He has developed algorithms to solve multiple challenging seismological research problems, including earthquake source depth classification, earthquake signal detection, location determination, magnitude estimation, event discrimination, and seismic wave arrival time picking.

His colleagues especially noted his 2020 publication of Earthquake Transformer, an advanced deep-learning model for simultaneous earthquake detection and phase picking, including its open-source software package, which has already been downloaded by researchers in more than 50 countries.

Mousavi is also known for developing multiple approaches to "denoising," or separating earthquake signal from "noise" in a seismogram. His techniques have been used on seismic data from seafloor cables, for improving nuclear test-ban treaty monitoring and for monitoring earthquakes in dense urban environments, among other applications.

Richter, the award's namesake "would smile and be amazed, if he were here, at the level at which Dr. Mousavi has taken raw network data and turned it into detailed maps of thousands of earthquake locations that delimit starkly obvious fault planes," said Charles Langston, who nominated Mousavi for the award. 

"Clearly this is the future of empirical network seismology and Dr. Mousavi is at its leading edge," Langston added.

Mousavi has published 20 peer-reviewed papers as the first or single author in various journals and on a wide range of topics that include seismic hazard and risk assessment, crustal and upper mantle attenuation estimation, and statistical analyses of spatio-temporal patterns of seismicity, in addition to the works mentioned above. 

"I am thoroughly honored and humbled to receive this award and to join past recipients who I have long admired and respected. I also thank the award committee and those who nominated me," said Mousavi.

Mousavi received his 2006 B.Sc. in civil engineering and a 2010 M.Sc. in risk engineering from the University of Tehran, and his Ph.D. in geophysics in 2017 from the University of Memphis. He was a postdoc at Stanford University from 2017 to 2019.

The Charles F. Richter Early Career Award honors outstanding contributions to the goals of the SSA by a member early in her or his career. Nominees must have been awarded their most recent academic degree no more than six years prior to 18 April of the year that she or he is selected for the award.

This story was adapted from a press release originally published by the Seismological Society of America.

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