Public Release: 

MIT M. Nafi Toksoz honored by seismologists

Seismological Society of America

The Seismological Society of America (SSA) will honor MIT's M. Nafi Toksoz on April 12 for his exceptional contributions to the field, including his investment of time in those around him. His work has defined seismology and its practice over the last 40 years.

"His work and those who have worked with him touch all aspects of seismology," says Michael Fehler, Ph.D., president of SSA and researcher at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

The Harry Fielding Reid Medal of the Seismological Society of America was established by its Board of Directors to award outstanding contributions in seismology and earthquake engineering. SSA is a professional membership organization founded in 1906. The first medal was awarded in 1975, and no more than one seismologist is honored each year.

Born and raised in Turkey, Nafi Toksoz received his B.S. degree from the Colorado School of Mines and his Ph.D. in Geophysics from California Institute of Technology. He is a Professor of Geophysics at the Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences of Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is the founder of the Earth Resources Laboratory at MIT and is currently the Director of the George R. Wallace, Jr., Geophysical Observatory.

His contributions stretch the breadth of seismology. His accomplishments are in both theoretical and experimental seismology, always with the goal of both understanding the earthquake mechanism and revealing the structure of the Earth and Moon. His work has focused on nuclear explosion monitoring, plate tectonics and subduction zone tectonics, lunar seismology and tectonics, seismic exploration, strong motion, and seismic hazard studies. He has pursued these major areas of study by developing innovative observational and interpretive techniques.

Dr. Toksoz has greatly influenced earth science research in Turkey where he has worked on nearly every aspect of earthquake and seismic hazard science. He has studied the largest earthquakes there, investigating crustal structure, estimating seismic hazard, and leading many seismic experiments

Perhaps his most lasting accomplishment rests with the more than 100 postdoctoral students whom he has mentored and who now work throughout the world. Dr. Toksoz promotes a research environment at MIT that is rich in diversity of research topics and the active interchange of ideas.

"Few professors have participated in the professional development of as many young scientists as Nafi. He has a strong devotion to science and a sincere interest in those around him succeeding," says Fehler.


SSA will honor Dr. Toksoz at its upcoming annual international convention in Hawaii. SSA is a scientific society devoted to the advancement of earthquake science. Founded in 1906 in San Francisco, the Society now has members throughout the world representing a variety of technical interests: seismologists and other geophysicists, geologists, engineers, insurers, and policy-makers in preparedness and safety.

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