Thorsten Becker

Thorsten  Becker
Professor, Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences
Senior Research Scientist, Institute for Geophysics, Jackson School of Geosciences
Faculty associate, Institute for Computational Engineering and Sciences

Shell Companies Foundation Distinguished Chair in Geophysics (Holder)

Office: ROC 2.116D, POB , JGB 4.220A
Mailcode: R2200

Becker's main research interests are in geodynamics and seismology, focusing on how planets' interior and surface systems have co-evolved. His team integrates field, laboratory, and numerical approaches into geodynamic and structural models, focusing on the physics of plate tectonics, from grain-scale deformation to earthquakes to plate-scale mantle flow. This work is discussed in more than 150 publications and was recognized by a Bessel Award of the Humboldt Foundation, the Evgeni Burov Medal of IUGG, the Augustus Love Medal of the European Geoscience Union, and a Fellowship of the American Geophysical Union.

Thorsten's teaching interests include Tectonic Geodynamics, Natural Hazards, Geophysics, Deep Earth Dynamics, and Numerical Modeling of Earth Systems.. He currently chairs the Standing Committee on Solid Earth Geophysics and is a member of the Board of Earth Sciences and Resources, both at the US National Academies. Other service includes a near-decade stint as Editor in Chief of Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems, and current editorial work for Advances. Becker also served on the Planning Committee of the Southern California Earthquake Center and currently leads the Megathrust Modeling Framework NSF-FRES project.

Becker holds a Diplom in Physics from Frankfurt University, a Ph.D. in Geophysics from Harvard, and was the Cecil H. and Ida M. Green Post-doctoral Scholar at Scripps, UC San Diego.

Areas of Expertise

mantle convection; plate tectonics; structural seismology; numerical modeling; earthquakes; fluid dynamics

August Love Medal - European Geoscience Union (2023)

Evgueni Burov Medal - International Lithosphere Program, IUGG (2021)

Member - Academia Europaea (2021)

Fellow - American Geophysical Union (2015)

Astor Visiting Fellowship - Oxford University (2014)

Friedrich Wilhelm Bessel Award - Humboldt Foundation (2013)

C. F. Gauss lecturer - German Geophysical Society (2008)

Kavli fellow - National Academy of Sciences (2007)

Cecil H. and Ida M. Green Scholarship - Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California at San Diego (2002)

Certificate of Excellence in Teaching - Harvard University (2001)

CAREER Award - National Science Foundation - 2007)

Member, Scientific Advisory Council, GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences (2023)

Member, Operational Planning Committee, Subduction Zones in Space and Time SZ4D (2022 - 2024)

Member, Visiting Committee, Earthquake Research Institute, University of Tokyo (2022)

Editor, Advances, American Geophysical Union (2020 - 2023)

Member, Steering Committee, Subduction Zones in Space and Time SZ4D (2020 - 2021)

Chair, Standing Committee on Solid Earth Geophysics, National Academy of Sciences (2019 - 2024)

Member, Board on Earth Sciences and Resources, National Academy of Sciences (2019 - 2024)

Member, Standing Committee on Solid Earth Geophysics, National Academy of Sciences (2015 - 2024)

Editor in Chief, Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems, American Geophysical Union (2009 - 2020)

Member, Planning Committee, Southern California Earthquake Center (2009 - 2015)

Editor in Chief, Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems, American Geophysical Union (2009 - 2017)

Please see for the current group members.


Eivind Straume, 2021 - 2023, Jackson School of Geosciences

Silvia Brizzi, 2020 - 2022, Jackson School of Geosciences

Antoniette Grima, 2020 - 2022, Jackson School of Geosciences

Robert Porritt, 2017 - 2020, Jackson School of Geosciences

Lukas Fuchs, 2016 - 2019, Jackson School of Geosciences

Matthew Weller, 2016 - 2019, Jackson School of Geosciences

Graduate Students

Simone Puel (Supervisor)
I am a Ph.D. candidate at The University of Texas at Austin - Jackson School of Geosciences and a Graduate Research Assistant at the Institute for Geophysics. My current research focuses on developing a forward and inverse modeling framework for earthquake deformation problems using adjoint-based optimization methods, such as coseismic slip distribution and heterogeneous material property estimates. The research involving...

Erin Heilman (Supervisor)

Ethan M Conrad (Supervisor)
My research interests include structural geology, tectonics, fault mechanics, and tectonic geomorphology. I use field observations, thermochronology and laboratory experiments to study how landscapes deform in response to tectonic and climatic forces. The field component of my research is focused on the Cenozoic evolution of the Northern Caribbean Plate Boundary. In particular, using the geology of Hispaniola as a key...

Edward Clennett (Supervisor)
I am a third year PhD candidate in the geodynamics and tectonics group at UT Austin. I am interested in plate tectonic reconstruction models, and how we can use plate driving forces to better constrain past plate motion and continental deformation. Plate motion and deformation are modelled through time using plate reconstructions. These are widely used across industry and academia...

Huiwen Sun (Supervisor)
My research interests lie primarily in the field of active tectonics with a focus on megathrust earthquakes. I seek to integrate geological observations, geodetic measurements, and seismological data into numerical models to better understand the behaviors of megathrust events.

Wanying Wang, Ph.D., 2021 (Supervisor)
Jackson School of Geosciences

Kunpeng Liao, M.S., 2018 (Supervisor)
UT Austin

Undergraduate Students

Zel Hurewitz (physics, UT Austin)

2022Spring GEO 398L 1-Tectonic Geodynamics
2022Spring GEO 350L 1-Tectonic Geodynamics
2022Spring GEO 302J Crisis Of Our Planet
2021Spring GEO 391 Tectonic Geodynamics-Wb
2021Spring GEO 371T Tectonic Geodynamics-Wb
2021Spring GEO 302J Crisis Of Our Planet
2020Fall GEO 391 Global Solid Earth Dynamics-Wb
2020Spring GEO 302J Crisis Of Our Planet
2020Spring GEO 391 Tectonic Geodynamics
2020Spring GEO 371T Tectonic Geodynamics
2019Fall GEO 391 Physics/Chem Of The Mantle
2019Spring GEO 371T Tectonic Geodynamics
2019Spring GEO 302J Crisis Of Our Planet
2018Spring GEO 394 Rsch In Geological Sciences
2018Spring GEO 302P Sustaining A Planet
2017Fall GEO 394 Rsch In Geological Sciences
2017Fall GEO 391 Geodynamics
2017Fall GEO 371T Geodynamics
2017Spring GEO 303 Introduction To Geology
2017Spring GEO 394 Rsch In Geological Sciences

Graduate Positions

Mantle and Fault System Dynamics Graduate Research
The UT Geodynamics Team is always looking for motivated graduate and undergraduate students.

The University of Texas at Austin hosts an exciting and diverse community of researchers at the Jackson School of Geoscience, which includes the UTIG and DGS units with which I am affiliated. At UT, we are colocated and collaborate with a number of others, including at the Texas Advanced Computing Center and the Oden Institute for Computational Engineering and Sciences.

We are always looking for motivated students with a keen interest and solid background in the Earth sciences, physics, engineering, or computer science. Please take a look at some of our recent publications to give you an idea of current projects, but I like to work with students who think and work independently and challenge and extend my expertise and interests.

Please consider applying for our program should you be interested in pursuing a PhD in my research group, and see the JSG pages for admission procedures. The (important) Fellowship deadline is December 1 each year. If you think this could be a match, please do reach out by email.


Undergraduate Positions

Summer intern/undergrad job Summer 2023 at TACC
The Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC) is seeking a summer intern to join the HighPerformance Computing group for the Summer 2023. The position is supported by the
Seismic COmputational Platform for Empowering Discovery (SCOPED) project funded by
NSF. The intern will primarily work on polishing and writing documents of the software tools
supported by SCOPED. The tools are written in Python and C++, so basic understanding of
these languages will be helpful. Additionally, experience with docker containers is preferred.
Review and revise existing documents of software tools and containers
Find and correct any issues in the documentation
Improve the wording and presentation of the documents
Work collaboratively with the development team to ensure accuracy and consistency
in the documents
Must be currently enrolled in a bachelor's or master's degree program at UT
Basic understanding of Python and C/C++ languages
Familiarity with docker containers is preferred
Exceptional precision and accuracy when reviewing and editing documents to ensure
they are error-free.
Excellent written and verbal communication skills
Ability to work independently and collaboratively with the development team
Background in Seismology is a plus
Required Materials
Letter of interest
To apply, please send your resume and letter to Ian Wang ( via
emails before Apr 15, 2023. We welcome applicants from all backgrounds and encourage
individuals from underrepresented groups to apply


MTMOD Megathrust modeling framework
Various summer projects and undergraduate research opportunities