Thorsten Becker

Professor of Earth Sciences

Contact Information
Phone: (213) 740-8365
Office: ZHS 269

Curriculum Vitae
Faculty Profile on Departmental Website
Personal Website


  • M.S. Physics, J. W. Goethe University, Frankfurt am Main, 1997
  • Ph.D. Geophysics, Harvard University, 2002

  • Postdoctoral Training

    • Cecil H. and Ida M. Green Post-doctoral scholar, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego, 2002-2004  

    Academic Appointment, Affiliation, and Employment History

    Tenure Track Appointments
    • Professor of Earth Sciences, University of Southern California, 2012-  
    • Associate Professor of Earth Sciences, University of Southern California, 2009-2012  
    • Assistant Professor of Earth Sciences, University of Southern California, 2004-2009  
    Visiting and Temporary Appointments
    • Visiting Professor, Universita di Roma TRE, 2012  
    • Visiting Associate Professor, University of Tokyo, Fall 2010   
    • Visiting Fellow, Princeton University, Spring 2008   

    Description of Research

    Summary Statement of Research Interests
    As a geophysicist, my main research interests are in geodynamics and seismology with focus on the interactions between mantle convection, surface geology, and Earth evolution. My group integrates a broad range of geological, geophysical, and geochemical data into quantitative models of plate tectonics, from grain-scale deformation to plate-scale flow. Recent research projects include work on seismic anisotropy, mantle heat transport and the mechanics of plate tectonics, subduction dynamics, and fault system mechanics.

    Honors and Awards

    • Fellow (or Equivalent) of National Society in Discipline, American Geophysical Union, 2015-  
    • Astor Visiting Lectureship, Oxford University, Spring 2014   
    • Alexander von Humbolt Fellowship Recipient, Friedrich Wilhelm Bessel Research Award, Fall 2013   
    • NIH/NSF Career Development Award, NSF Geophysics, 2007-2012  
    • Kavli Fellow, National Academy of Sciences, 2007-2009  
    • Editors' Citation for Excellence in Refereeing for Tectonics, 2007-2008   
    • C. F. Gauss lecturer, German Geophysical Society, European Geosciences Meeting, 2007-2008   
    • Cecil H. and Ida M. Green Scholarship, 2002-2004  
    • Certificate of Excellence in Teaching, Derek Bok Center, Harvard University, 2001  
    • Haereus prize for Physics students in the state of Hesse, 1997-1998   
    • Siedler Award, Best M.Sc. Thesis in Physics, Frankfurt University, 1997  

    Service to the Profession

    Editorships and Editorial Boards
    • Senior editor, Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems, 2009-  
    • Editor, Geophysical Journal International, 2004-2009  

  • Zumberge Hall of Science (ZHS)
  • Los Angeles, CA 90089-0740
  • Phone: (213) 740-6106
  • Email: