Robert S. Brookings Distinguished Professor in Earth and Planetary Sciences
Douglas Wiens is the Robert S. Brookings Distinguished University Professor in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences. Doug’s research specialization is imaging the earth’s interior and studying unusual earthquakes and icequakes using seismic waves. Doug led several research cruises to the Western Pacific that deployed seismographs to the ocean bottom to image how magma is produced beneath volcanic island chains and spreading centers, as well as to study variations in temperature deep in the earth. Doug traveled to Antarctica eight times to deploy seismographs, and his projects were the first to record data unattended for an entire year, despite the winter darkness and temperatures down to -100°F. The structure beneath Antarctica controls how the land responds to changes in the weight of the ice sheet. This is important both for studying past and present changes in ice mass as well as modeling the possible collapse of the ice sheet in response to future climate change. He has taught a variety of courses over the years, with a favorite being Exploration and Environmental Geophysics, in which students collect and analyze geophysical data at field sites in the St Louis region.
Doug obtained his BA from Wheaton College (Illinois) in 1980, a PhD from Northwestern University in 1985, and has served on the faculty at Washington University since. He has supervised 15 PhD theses, served on many national science committees, and since then has served as chair of the Washington University Department of Earth & Planetary Sciences from 2008-2013. Doug was elected a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union in 2007, and received the Robert L. and Bettie P. Cody Award in Ocean Sciences from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in 2014, in recognition for his work with ocean bottom seismographs and the structure of the earth beneath the seafloor. He has also served as a visiting fellow at the Australian National University and a visiting faculty member at the Earthquake Research Institute of the University of Tokyo.
Doug is married to his college sweetheart Debra Wiens, who teaches history and government at Clayton High School, and they attend the Gathering Church in Clayton. They have two children, Andrew, age 26, and Julia, age 25.