Congratulations to Karin Sigloch who has been promoted to a Professorship by the University of Oxford. The process which recognises distinction, calls on referees with international standing in the field and scrutiny by a committee formed from across all of the Mathematical, Physical and Life Sciences Division departments, together with senior external representatives.
Karin obtained a master’s degree in engineering in 2002, jointly from the University of Karlsruhe and the ENSIEG of Grenoble, France. Research for her M.Eng. Thesis project took her to the Bell Labs in New Jersey, and she stayed in the United States to obtain a Ph.D. from Princeton University, moving into the field of geoscience. After graduation in 2008, Karin took a position as assistant professor in geophysics at the University of Munich (LMU), which she held until moving to Oxford in 2013.
Now a Professor of Geophysics, Karin’s current research focusses on the structure of the earth’s interior from crust to core. The purpose is to understand its heat and material flows, which move slowly on a human timescale, but very vigorously on geological time scales. At the surface, these geodynamic processes manifest themselves in the motions of tectonic plates, the constant creation and destruction of crust, corresponding volcanism, and the long-term cycling of minerals and chemical elements. Together with heat input from the sun, they ultimately create a habitable planet.
The primary tool for her research is seismic tomography, an imaging technique that computes three-dimensional maps of the earth’s interior, mapping out anomalously hot, cold, or dense regions that drive convective overturns of the mantle. The approach is similar to biomedical imaging methods such as x-ray tomography, except that seismologists work with naturally occurring earthquakes as signal sources, and a global network of seismometers as receivers. After much computing and signal processing, the data are interpreted, to create 3-D maps of the planet’s interior, in terms of geodynamic convection, and to make links to large-scale surface processes such as mountain building or volcanism. Karin’s also does field experiments that contribute to global data acquisition networks of the seismological community, including novel recordings on the ocean-bottom.