GSA Medals & Awards

Subaru Outstanding Woman in Science Award

Elizabeth S. Cochran
Elizabeth S. Cochran
University of California, San Diego

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Subaru of America, Inc.
This award sponsored by
Subaru of America, Inc.

Presented to Elizabeth S. Cochran


It is a great honor to be this year's recipient of the Outstanding Woman in Science Award in memory of Doris Curtis, the 103rd President of GSA. I am very fortunate to have had the support of many genuine and enthusiastic mentors throughout my career.

I started working in the field of Earth Sciences as a senior in high school when I completed an NSF-sponsored research project with Ralph Archuleta at the University of California, Santa Barbara. At the time I certainly appreciated his enthusiasm, but I did not realize how unusual it is to find a professor willing to spend many hours per week with a high-school student putting in seismometers and teaching the basics of seismology and computer programming. It was because of Ralph's dedication that it was a straightforward decision to declare Geophysics as my undergraduate major. Ralph and all of the faculty, researchers, and students at UCSB and the Institute for Crustal Studies (ICS) continued to encourage and inspire me throughout my undergraduate years and today.

It was an easy transition to graduate school at the University of California, Los Angeles, where I worked with another outstanding advisor: John Vidale. I first met John during a large seismic deployment where he insisted that he preferred to be told where to carry batteries to power the seismometers rather than program them. I didn't think I would find another advisor willing to take advice from an undergraduate, making my decision to attend UCLA an easy one. During graduate school I pursued several avenues of research and learned the benefits of pursuing answers to questions using a diversity of approaches. Breakthroughs can be made simply by taking a slightly different approach than the norm or using multiple datasets to examine the same phenomena. Scientific research is moving in the direction of collaboration, rather than individual accomplishment and it is an especially important lesson to learn in the earth sciences. Our field of research lends itself to collaboration, as it is difficult to see the complete picture by looking at only one piece of the puzzle. Therefore, my advisor encouraged me to take advantage of the varied faculty at UCLA to discuss my research and pursue additional projects that I found interesting. I am thankful for all of the faculty at UCLA and now at UCSD who took the time to answer my questions or chat about the latest news in the field, in particular I would like to acknowledge John Vidale, Gilles Peltzer, Peter Shearer, and Emily Brodsky. And of course, I don't think any graduate student can survive without their fellow students, so I would like to thank the many friends that I made as an undergraduate at UCSB and a graduate student at UCLA.

I am delighted to receive this award from the GSA, a society that encourages contributions to the geosciences that benefit the greater society and includes a diversity of members to foster collaborative research. I am honored and grateful, thank you.