Nicola Tisato Promoted to Associate Professor

Associate Professor Nicola Tisato
Associate Professor Nicola Tisato

Nicola Tisato, who joined the Jackson School of Geosciences in 2016 as an assistant professor, was promoted to associate professor in February.

Danny Stockli, the chair of the school’s Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, noted that in these eight years, Tisato has become a leader in the field of digital rock physics.

“We are very happy for Nicola, who is also a wonderful and enthusiastic department citizen,” Stockli said.

Tisato calls himself a “rock squeezer” — he uses pressure and temperature to understand the physics of rocks including their frictional properties, how seismic waves pass through them, and how fractures inside them open and close. He created the Rock Deformation Laboratory at the Jackson School to do just that and, along with his students, has devised several specialized instruments for experiments. One device, for example, allows rocks to remain under pressure during a CT scan.

The path to tenure is long, constant, and trying. Over the course of these years, it would have been easy, Tisato said, to lose his focus on what matters most: teaching, research, and the development of his lab.

“For me the priority was always to build this space, here,” Tisato said, gesturing to the Rock Deformation Lab. “Make it functional for the entire community, and do excellent science.”

Tisato enjoys teaching computational methods for geosciences, geodata, and geophysics in general — subjects that rely on technology to investigate nature. To witness students progressing in these subjects is one of the things Tisato said he enjoys most about his job.

“I love to see people going from being in the lab, not knowing much about it, to then going out and saying, ‘I’ve learned something.’ It’s really rewarding when someone tells me that. It makes me feel like I did my job,” he said.

Now that he is an associate professor, Tisato said he is going to keep doing what he’s been working on for the last 15 years: excellent, high-quality research. With tenure achieved, Tisato said he can now work under a little less stress, but he doesn’t want to settle. He already has plans on what he would like to work on next: conducting research on CO₂ storage and earthquake mechanics.