Michael Wysession

Michael Wysession


Professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences

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Wysession is a professor of Earth and planetary sciences and executive director of the university’s Center for Teaching and Learning. An established leader in seismology, Wysession has made major research contributions in visualizing seismic wave propagation and mapping the structure of Earth’s deep mantle.

His more than 100 published papers include the structure of the U.S. Mid-Continent Rift, the tectonics and structure of African plates, intraplate earthquakes and using seismic waves to identify military explosions. He is internationally known for his efforts in increasing science literacy, as Chair of the National Science Foundation’s Earth Science Literacy Initiative, Chair for Earth and Space Science for the writing of the K-12 “Next Generation Science Standards,” coauthor of more than 30 science textbooks from kindergarten to graduate school, author of video lecture courses with the Teaching Company’s Great Courses series (How the Earth Works, The World’s Greatest Geologic Wonders, National Geographic’s Polar Explorations, and The Science of Energy) and presenter of more than 300 public lectures on geologic hazards, natural resources and human impacts on the geosphere and biosphere.

In the media

Stories

The first 100 Biden/Harris days

The first 100 Biden/Harris days

Faculty experts from across Washington University in St. Louis draw upon their research, their instruction, their experience and their thought leadership to proffer insight and ideas for the new administration, the new beginning.
Biden energy plan is aggressive, but much can be done

Biden energy plan is aggressive, but much can be done

Geophysicist Michael Wysession, professor of earth and planetary sciences in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis, teaches a popular undergraduate course called “Energy and the Environment.” He breaks down President-elect Joe Biden’s 9-point Energy Plan, point-by-point.
Teaching high school chemistry with real-world examples

Teaching high school chemistry with real-world examples

Michael Wysession, professor in earth and planetary sciences, and Bryn Lutes, a lecturer in chemistry, both in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis, believe that high school students will learn chemistry better when they crunch actual climate data, rather than memorize the periodic table by rote. They helped write a national chemistry curriculum that is loaded with real-world examples — like ocean acidification — and is already being rolled out by school districts in Los Angeles and other parts of California.
WashU Experts on the Climate Assessment

WashU Experts on the Climate Assessment

Washington University in St. Louis experts from all corners of academia long have been studying climate change in the context of their own fields. Here is a sampling of their perspectives on the National Climate Assessment released Nov. 23.
Nero fiddled. We play golf.

Nero fiddled. We play golf.

The photograph quickly went viral. A group of golfers in southern Washington State calmly putts before a raging forest fire. First posted Sept. 6, the image has taken social media by storm and become the subject of news articles and countless memes. But the point is this: In the western United States, forest fires have become so routine that people barely notice them anymore.

Wysession receives award for geosciences education

Michael Wysession, professor of earth and planetary sciences in Arts & Sciences, has been recognized for his exceptional leadership in geosciences education by the Seismological Society of America with the 2016 Frank Press Public Service Award.

Early responses coming in on Next Generation Science Standards

The Next Generation Science Standards have been out for a month now. How are they being received? Michael Wysession, who helped lead the effort to define the national standards, says there haven’t been any major surprises, in part because there is strong economic motivation to bring American students up to the level of the scientifically literate students they will be compete with in the international job marker.

National science standards to the rescue

WUSTL geophysicist Michael Wysession is leading a team of scholars who are helping the nation’s top science agencies develop national standards for K-12 science education. The core disciplines covered by the new standards include engineering and Earth and planetary sciences, which have never before been a standard part of the K-12 curriculum. Wysession currently co-leads the team writing the Earth and planetary standards, and a key focus of his mission is ensuring that students gain a solid grasp of the Anthropocene, loosely defined as the period in Earth’s history during which human activities have had a significant impact on Earth systems.

Two Washington University in St. Louis geologists comment on the Japanese earthquake

In the weeks following the earthquake, two geologists at Washington University in St. Louis — Doug Wiens, PhD, professor and chair of earth and planetary sciences in Arts & Sciences, and Michael Wysession, PhD, associate professor of earth and planetary sciences — were frequently interviewed by journalists seeking to understand a catastrophe that seemed at times beyond understanding. What did the two scientists think about the quake? What was expected and what surprised them?

What everyone should know about Earth sciences summarized in free NSF-funded e-booklet

If you’re clueless about petrology, paleobiology and plate tectonics, the National Science Foundation and the Earth Science Literacy Initiative (ESLI) have just released a free pamphlet offering a concise primer on what all Americans should know about the Earth sciences. “The Earth Science Literacy framework document of ‘Big Ideas’ and supporting concepts was a community effort representing the current state-of-the-art research in Earth sciences,” said Michael E. Wysession, Ph.D., chair of ESLI and associate professor of earth and planetary sciences in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis.

Earthquake in Illinois could portend an emerging threat

Two seismologists at Washington University in St. Louis think the New Madrid Fault may have seen its day and the Wabash Fault is the new kid on the block. “I think everyone’s interested in the Wabash Valley Fault because a lot of the attention has been on the New Madrid Fault, but the Wabash Valley Fault could be the more dangerous one, at least for St. Louis and Illinois,” said Doug Wiens, professor of earth and planetary sciences in Arts & Sciences. “The strongest earthquakes in the last few years have come from the Wabash Valley Fault, which needs more investigation.”

Earth’s orbit creates more than a leap year

The Earth’s orbital behaviors are responsible for more than just presenting us with a leap year every four years. According to Michael E. Wysession, Ph.D., associate professor of earth and planetary sciences in Arts & Sciences, parameters such as planetary gravitational attractions, the Earth’s elliptical orbit around the sun and the degree of tilt of our planet’s axis with respect to its path around the sun, have implications for climate change and the advent of ice ages.

Earth’s orbit creates more than a leap year

Image courtesy of NASAThe Earth’s orbital behaviors are responsible for more than just presenting us with a leap year every four years. According to Michael E. Wysession, Ph.D., associate professor of earth and planetary sciences in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis, parameters such as planetary gravitational attractions, the Earth’s elliptical orbit around the sun and the degree of tilt of our planet’s axis with respect to its path around the sun, have implications for climate change and the advent of ice ages.

Professor’s video series explains all of Earth’s facets

Image courtesy of NASA”How the Earth Works” is a boxed set of 48 30-minute video lectures developed and delivered by WUSTL’s Michael E. Wysession. The lectures explore every aspect of the Earth and are designed to appeal to the curious lay public.Videos have been the bailiwick of rock stars at least since the days of Bob Dylan. But now they’re spilling over into a new arena — academia. Michael E. Wysession, Ph.D., associate professor of earth and planetary sciences in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis, has 48 lectures on planet Earth coming out in a video format in February. It’s a sort of brainiac’s boxed set. Each 30-minute lecture focuses on an aspect of the Earth, from its origins and composition to its climate, orbit, pollution and relationship to human history.

3-D seismic model of vast water reservoir revealed

Eric ChouA slice through the earth, showing the attenuation anomalies within the mantle.A seismologist at Washington University in St. Louis has made the first 3-D model of seismic wave damping — diminishing — deep in the Earth’s mantle and has revealed the existence of an underground water reservoir at least the volume of the Arctic Ocean. The research, which analyzed 80,000 shear waves from more than 600,000 seismograms, provides the first evidence for water existing in the Earth’s deep mantle.

Researchers find ways heat-loving microbes release energy

Jan Amend sampling shallow marine vent fluids in 2005 at Ambitle Island, Papua, New Guinea.Curiosity about the microbial world drove Jan Amend, Ph.D., associate professor of earth and planetary sciences in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis, to Vulcano Island, Italy, a shallow hydrothermal Shangri-la near Sicily. There, Amend and his collaborators managed to examine the environment in depth, design a gene probe, and discover new life-which could have some big implications for the origin and presence of life on Earth. More…