Paul G Richards

Paul Richards has taught at Columbia University since 1971, where he has conducted research on the theory of seismic wave propagation, the physics of earthquakes, the interior structure of the Earth, and the application of seismological methods to explosion and earthquake monitoring. He is a co-author of the advanced text “Quantitative Seismology” (available in Russian, Chinese, Japanese as well as English), and co-discoverer of evidence for super-rotation of the Earth’s inner core.  He has been emeritus Professor of Natural Sciences since 2008, and is currently Special Research Scientist at Columbia where he continues to conduct research on methods to improve the monitoring of earthquakes and explosions.

He has held Guggenheim and MacArthur Fellowships, chaired Columbia’s Department of Geological Sciences from 1979 to 1983, served terms as a visiting scholar at the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency in 1984 and 1993, was elected (1992) to membership in the Council on Foreign Relations, participated for the United States delegation in Geneva in CTBT negotiations, is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He received the Seismological Society of America’s 2009 medal for outstanding contributions in seismology.

See this for a list of publications, and this for other general information.


  • 1965 B.A. in Mathematics (Peterhouse, University of Cambridge) 
  • 1966 M.S. in Geology (California Institute of Technology)
  • 1970 Ph. D. in Geophysics (California Institute of Technology)

Honors & Awards

  • Sloan Foundation Fellow (1973 to 1977) 
  • James B. Macelwane Award (1977, American Geophysical Union) 
  • Fellow of the American Geophysical Union (1977) Guggenheim Foundation Fellow (1977 to 1978) 
  • MacArthur Foundation Fellow (1981 to 1986) 
  • Member, Council on Foreign Relations (since 1992) 
  • Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (1993) 
  • Phi Beta Kappa Visiting Scholar in 2000-2001 
  • Harold Jeffreys Lecturer, Royal Astronomical Society (March 1999) 
  • Leo Szilard Lectureship (2006, American Physical Society, for work on nuclear explosion monitoring) 
  • Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (2008) 
  • Harry Fielding Reid Medalist of the Seismological Society of America for 2009 (awarded in 2010) 

See this list