Share this:
05/07/2012 07:00:00

Caltech's Kanamori Named Foreign Associate of National Academy of Sciences

PASADENA, Calif.—Hiroo Kanamori, the John E. and Hazel S. Smits Professor of Geophysics, Emeritus, at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), has been elected one of 21 new foreign associates of the National Academy of Sciences. Eighty-four new members were also announced during the 149th annual meeting of the academy in Washington, D.C. 

Foreign associates are nonvoting members of the academy who have citizenship outside the United States. Membership in the National Academy of Sciences is considered one of the most important distinctions that a scientist can achieve.

Kanamori is a leading authority on the physics of earthquakes and is known for developing a moment-magnitude scale for determining the magnitude of large earthquakes based on the amount of energy they release. He is particularly interested in the application of seismology to hazard mitigation as well as the study of tsunamis and the implementation of early-warning systems.

Kanamori earned his undergraduate and graduate degrees at the University of Tokyo (BS '59, MS '61, PhD '64) before coming to Caltech as a postdoctoral researcher in 1965. After stints at MIT and the University of Tokyo, he returned to Caltech as a full professor in 1972 and became the Smits Professor of Geophysics in 1989. He served as the director of Caltech's Seismological Laboratory from 1990 until 1998 and became the Smits Professor of Geophysics, Emeritus, in 2005.

Among other distinctions, Kanamori was made a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1987, was given the Walter H. Bucher Medal by the American Geophysical Union in 1996, was honored by the Japanese government with the Cultural Merit Award in 2006, and was selected for the Kyoto Prize by the Inamori Foundation in 2007.

Kanamori's election brings the total number of living Caltech faculty members who belong to the National Academy of Sciences to 71. Four of those, including Kanamori, are foreign associates. In addition, three current members of the Caltech Board of Trustees are academy members.

The National Academy of Sciences is dedicated to the "furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the public good," according to its mission statement. Established by a 1863 act of Congress that was signed by President Lincoln, the academy provides scientific advice to the government "whenever called upon" by any government department.

There are now 2,152 active members and 430 foreign associates of the National Academy of Sciences. 

Written by Kimm Fesenmaier