Susan Kieffer received her B.S. in physics and mathematics from Allegheny College, a M.S. in Geological Sciences and Ph.D. in Planetary Sciences from the California Institute of Technology. Her research interests are mineral thermodynamics and geological fluid dynamics, especially the study of high-speed catastrophic events such as meteorite impacts, volcanic eruptions, and river floods. She combines field, laboratory and theoretical techniques. In recognition of her work, Kieffer received a Sloan Fellowship, the Mineralogical Society of America Award for a young scientist, Caltech’s Distinguished Alumnus Award, and an Honorary Doctor of Science Award from Allegheny College. She was only the second American and the first woman to be awarded the Spendiarov Award from the Academy of Sciences of the USSR. From the Geological Society of America, she has received the Day Medal for the application of physics and chemistry to geology, and the Penrose Medal for contributions to pure geology. She is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the National Academy of Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, and a recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship. She is a professor emeritus of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and currently resides in the Pacific Northwest.

Research Interests

Erosional processes during the propagation of pyroclastic density currents during explosive volcanic eruptions. Dynamics of eruption of Old Faithful Geyser.

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Primary Section

Section 15: Geology

Secondary Section

Section 63: Environmental Sciences and Ecology