Department of Earth, Environmental & Planetary Sciences

Karen M. Fischer

Louis and Elizabeth Scherck Distinguished Professor of Geological Sciences
GeoChem Building
Room 158
Research Interests Geophysics, Tectonics Volcanology and Petrology
Pronouns she/her


I am a seismologist who studies the structure and dynamics of the Earth's interior. Our group focuses on understanding the lithosphere and asthenosphere, how these layers are created and evolve over time, and their roles in plate tectonics and mantle convection. We analyze and model large datasets of seismic waveform data to measure the structure of the crust and mantle, including the signatures of present-day and ancient plate boundaries, mantle flow, and mantle melting processes. Our work involves field-based seismometer experiments and the development of new methods to resolve Earth structure with seismic waves. I am a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union, a recipient of the Reid Medal (Seismological Society of America) and the Jardetzky Medal (Columbia University), and was a Gutenberg Lecturer (American Geophysical Union). I am grateful to Brown for the Royce Family Professorship in Teaching Excellence, the Karen T. Romer Award for Undergraduate Advising and Mentoring, and the Meenakshi Narain Excellence in Research Mentoring Award. I earned my B.S. from Yale University and my Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and I was a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University.