David Stevenson is Appointed the First Van Osdol Professor
A native of New Zealand, Stevenson earned his bachelor's and master's degrees at Victoria University in Wellington, New Zealand, and his doctorate in theoretical physics at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. He joined the Caltech faculty in 1980 as associate professor and was named professor in 1984. Stevenson served as chair of the Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences from 1989 to 1994.
A fellow of the American Geophysical Union since 1986, and a fellow of the Royal Society of London since 1993, Stevenson was awarded the AGU's Whipple Award in 1994 for his outstanding contributions to understanding fundamental aspects of the formation and evolution of planets, especially planetary interiors. He also received the Urey Prize from the American Astronomical Society's Division of Planetary Science in 1984.
Stevenson's research concerns the origin, evolution, and structure of all planets including the earth. He explores areas such as convective processes in the mantle and core, and complexities of two-phase flow, kinetics, and differentiation. The professorship was established by George Van Osdol, who received his BS in electrical engineering from Caltech in 1934. He returned to Caltech during World War II as a participant in the Naval Reserve program. Van Osdol, who retired from Pacific Bell in 1977, has been active in the Caltech Alumni Fund and in the Friends of Beckman Auditorium.
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