Anant Hariharan: 'Conducting seismology research gives my life character'

Mon, 04/16/2018

Anant Hariharan

Physics & Science of Earth Systems

Bangalore, India

What is your main extracurricular activity--why is it important to you?

Conducting seismology research gives my life character — simply looking at seismic data or the resulting images of the deep Earth we can generate is thrilling, and the exhilaration that is gained from a new insight or the successful implementation of a new technique to recover a new parameter describing Earth structure is unparalleled for me. Through my projects in this field, I've learned the skills I consider most valuable to me and that I'm most proud of.

What, if any, research projects did you participate in at Cornell?

At Cornell, I've worked with records from expeditions to Greenland in the early 1900s to better constrain the extent of early glacial evolution. I've also been involved in studies of high-pressure mineral physics, using quantum mechanical simulations to constrain the behavior of hydrated minerals in geologically active regions of the Earth. (This work resulted in two publications, one of which was in the journal Nature.) Most importantly, I've spent three years analyzing seismic data, first from Oklahoma, where unusually high local seismicity has been recorded recently, and then from Ethiopia, where I've been the main analyst for a project aiming to better understand how rifts develop by rigorously constraining how deformation in the Main Ethiopian Rift penetrates into the surroundings. I'm currently preparing multiple papers on the latter endeavor, as well as a paper on a separate project, which is part of my work for the seismology group at the University of Maryland. There, I've developed a new technique that allows seismologists to reconcile global and regional images of the Earth, and am currently applying this to North America.

Who or what influenced your Cornell education the most? How or why?

The professors and graduate students I’ve met through classes and research work have continually influenced the way I think and have challenged me to become a sharper and scientifically more rigorous researcher, unafraid to challenge a view when it’s put forth. In particular, my research advisor, Katie Keranen, has completely fueled my interest in seismology by giving me access to incredible data and letting me run wild with my analyses, allowing me to pursue new avenues of inquiry while always directing me in the right direction and keeping me reminded of the big picture and goals we have in mind.