John R. Elliott, winner of the 2020 John Wahr Early Career Award
John R. Elliott

In his research, John Elliott focuses on using interferometric synthetic aperture radar (InSAR) and other geodetic methods for advancing knowledge of earthquake cycle deformation and tectonics. His papers range from studying tiny ground displacements associated with stress buildup between large earthquakes to mapping and modeling meter-scale ground ruptures in major seismic events. What sets John’s studies apart is his insightful integration of geodetic results with good knowledge of local geology and tectonics, resulting in papers that are more complete and go further than usual. Some of these studies are well known in the community for this reason, such as his papers on the Christchurch, Gorkha, and Van earthquakes. In addition to his outstanding contributions to the field, he also addresses societally important questions in his work related to hazard and risk.

John possesses excellent communication skills, and like many others, I always look forward to his inspiring presentations at conferences. They are packed with interesting information, and still he uniquely manages to clearly explain complex topics, hypothesis testing, alternative ideas, and in-depth implications of the results. He is clearly passionate about his work and keeps his audiences easily engaged with his humor, enthusiasm, and high-octane presentation style. His interest in geodesy, earthquakes, and tectonics also translates into private discussions and meetings, and surely into the classroom as well.

John has been very active in the geodetic community, both in England and beyond, working tirelessly in committees, at conferences, and as a lecturer at workshops. When I was associate editor for the Journal of Geophysical Research, John was my favorite reviewer. He finished his reviews early, was exceptionally thorough and detailed, yet fair, and provided excellent comments and constructive suggestions for improvement.

Given his many achievements and contributions to our community, I am glad that the AGU Geodesy section has recognized John with the 2020 John Wahr Early Career Award.

—Sigurjón Jónsson, King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, Thuwal, Saudi Arabia


I am very grateful to have been selected for the John Wahr Early Career Award and for the kind words and time Sjonni has made in providing his citation. I also thank the Geodesy section award panel for their support and recognition in choosing my nomination. I appreciate that this is often a difficult decision, and I know there are many suitable candidates in the field for this award, so I am humbled to have been chosen this year.

The pursuit of scientific inquiry and its endeavors are increasingly collaborative and team based. My research has been possible only through the skill and strength of the many collaborators I have worked with across the world. I therefore thank the many excellent partners I have had the pleasure to collaborate with and learn from in the past 15 years, as well as my research group more recently.

Being able to succeed in science requires the trinity of aptitude, hard work, and luck, with the greatest of these, I feel, being luck. And by luck, this often means opportunity. I have been fortunate to have been given great opportunities to pursue my lines of research. In particular, I must thank the mentors, supervisors, and advisers who enabled me to develop as a scientist and who provided those key opportunities. These favorable circumstances have enabled me to stay within science, despite almost taking a different fork in the road on at least three occasions. My greatest thanks go to Susanna Ebmeier for her support over more than a decade with advice, acting as a sounding board and providing ideas.

—John R. Elliott, University of Leeds, Leeds, U.K.


(2021), Elliott receives 2020 John Wahr Early Career Award, Eos, 102, Published on 07 July 2021.

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