External Professor

John is Distinguished Professor of Physics and Geology at the University of California, Davis.  He is a past Director of the California Institute for Hazard Research of the University of California, and currently serves as Executive Director Emeritus of the APEC Cooperation for Earthquake Simulation (ACES), a consortium of 6 APEC economies whose goal is to understand the entire earthquake cycle by means of rigorous models and numerical simulations. For over thirty years, his research has focused on using statistical physics to understand the physics of earthquakes and other driven threshold systems.  He has a particular interest in the development of methods for earthquake forecasting based on studies of chaos and complexity in driven nonlinear systems, as well as on the use of realistic, large scale numerical simulations.  

More recently, he has developed an interest in viewing crashes in economic and financial systems as a kind of “Econoquake” that might be understood by analogy to earthquakes and other first order (nucleation) phase transitions.  Braving the unthinkable, he has also dipped his toes into the real world, and co-founded a startup company in the area of global earthquake forecasting, general hazard analysis, and risk management for the global public (www.openhazards.com).  That company, Open Hazards inc., also develops computational methods for algorithmic trading, forecasting and investing, that uses techniques similar to those developed in the earthquake area to forecast movements in the financial markets.

John has served the scientific community through membership on numerous boards and committees, including serving as a Member (1990 - 1997) and Chair (1994-1996) of the scientific Advisory Council to the Southern California Earthquake Center. He is a Distinguished Visiting Scientist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, CA (1995-present).  He is an External Professor at the Santa Fe Institute, where he co-organizes a yearly conference on financial forecasting and risk (held this year at Morgan Stanley, NY on October 5, 2011).  He is a senior advisor to the Association of Pacific Rim Universities (www.apru.org), a consortium of the 45 leading universities around the Pacific Rim, and participates regularly in the activities of the APRU Multihazards Hub at Tohoku University in Sendai, Japan.  He is a Fellow of both the American Physical Society (2005) and the American Geophysical Union (2008).   In 2012, the QuakeSim team, of which John is a founding member, won the NASA Software of the Year Award, one of NASA's two highest honors.  John received his B.S.E from Princeton University (Magna Cum Laude, Phi Beta Kappa, Tau Beta Pi), and his M.S. and Ph.D. from the University of California at Los Angeles.