Award honors SMU volcano expert for scientifically distinguished efforts to advance science and its applications.

Vulcanologist James E. Quick, SMU’s associate vice president for research and dean of Graduate Studies, has been named a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Dr James QuickAAAS is the world’s largest general scientific society and publisher of the journal Science. Quick is the fourth professor at Southern Methodist University recognized with the prestigious honor.

An expert in volcano hazards, Quick is being honored for his distinguished contributions to geologic science and volcano risk assessment, particularly for the study of magmatic systems, and for service to governments in assessing geologic risk.

Quick is a professor in SMU’s Roy M. Huffington Department of Earth Sciences.

SMU President R. Gerald Turner said SMU is honored and gratified that the scientists of AAAS have chosen to recognize the research achievements and public service of Dean Quick.

“SMU is an educational institution that prides itself on shaping world changers. It has been strengthened in that goal through Dean Quick’s dedicated vision and achievements as a researcher, an academic leader and a servant to the global community,” Turner said. “We congratulate Dean Quick on this well-deserved recognition from this distinguished organization.”

AAAS Fellows are elected by their peers for distinguished efforts to advance science
Election as a Fellow is an honor bestowed by AAAS members upon their peers. This year AAAS named 388 members as Fellows for their scientifically or socially distinguished efforts to advance science or its applications.

SMU faculty inducted previously as AAAS Fellows are environmental biochemistry scholar Paul W. Ludden, SMU provost and vice president for academic affairs and a professor in the Department of Biological Sciences, who was named a Fellow in 2003; anthropologist David J. Meltzer, Henderson-Morrison Professor of Prehistory in the Department of Anthropology and an expert in the early peoples of North America, who was named a Fellow in 1998; and North American and Middle Eastern stratigraphic and geomorphologic expert James E. Brooks, provost emeritus and professor emeritus in the Huffington Department of Earth Sciences, who was named a Fellow in 1966.

Quick led international team that discovered fossil supervolcano in Italy
Quick joined SMU in 2007. In 2009 he led the international scientific team that discovered a 280-million-year-old fossil supervolcano in the Italian Alps. The supervolcano’s magmatic plumbing system was exposed to an unprecedented depth of 25 kilometers, giving scientists new understanding into the phenomenon of explosive supervolcanos. Italian geologists in 2010 awarded Quick the Capellini Medal to recognize the discovery. In 2013 an area encompassing the supervolcano won designation as the Sesia-Val Grande Geopark by the UNESCO Global Network of National Geoparks. Quick also was named an honorary citizen of the city of Borgosesia, Italy, in recognition of the significance of the discovery to the Sesia Valley.

Quick also leads a team of SMU scientists working with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) to monitor volcanoes in the Northern Mariana Islands. The project uses infrasound and conventional seismic monitoring to “listen” for signs that a volcano is about to erupt. The goal is to strengthen monitoring of lava and ash hazards in the Marianas, a U.S. commonwealth near Guam, the primary base for forward deployment of U.S. military forces in the Western Pacific.

Quick’s longtime career with USGS included leading Volcano Hazards Program
Prior to SMU, Quick served a distinguished 25-year scientific career with the USGS, including as program coordinator for the Volcano Hazards Program.

At the USGS Quick performed fundamental research on volcanic processes and was in charge of monitoring the nation’s 169 volcanoes to provide critical early warning of eruptions. Threats from active volcanoes range from the dramatic destruction of life and property to eruption of volcanic-ash clouds that threaten jet aircraft in flight. The budget for this research group was approximately $26 million a year.

Quick’s research has taken him to more than 35 countries, working with the federal government, elected officials and academic institutions. He has published widely in numerous scientific journals during the last 30 years and maintains an active research agenda on magmatic processes.

Quick earned his Ph.D. in geology from the California Institute of Technology; his M.Sc. in petrology from the University of Minnesota; and his B.Sc. in geology from the University of California, Los Angeles.

New AAAS Fellows will be presented an official certificate and a gold and blue rosette pin, representing science and engineering respectively, on Feb. 15 during the 2014 AAAS Annual Meeting in Chicago. — Margaret Allen, AAAS

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