Q&A About “The Really Big One”

John Vidale
Earth and Space Sciences’ professor John Vidale

John Vidale has been interested in the earth and its inner workings since he was a young boy, thanks to his mother, a geologist. His longtime love for geology, math and physics brought him to Yale and Caltech for his undergraduate and graduate studies, respectively, followed by years as a researcher and professor across California before moving to Seattle.

Now, he’s nearing a decade at the UW, where he works with the state and federal government for public hazard mitigation and serves as Washington’s resident earthquake expert, where he’s tasked, among many other things, with collaborating with others to create an earthquake preparedness plan for at-risk areas—Seattle included.

“Seeing the city take action based on our research really gives me a feeling that I’m not working on something that might one day benefit people, but that will have an immediate impact. It keeps the University more connected to the community because it’s not just ivory tower research.”

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