College of Fellows Distinguished Lecture Series Speaker

Lee Slater headshot

Lee Slater
Rutgers University
United States of America
Primary Affiliation: Near-Surface Geophysics

I will offer a perspective on the evolution of NSG as a driver of interdisciplinary science over the last two decades, documenting successes and failures in a quest to establish relationships between geophysical observations and hydrogeological and biogeochemical properties and processes. Focusing on electrical geophysical techniques, I will draw upon examples where the unique qualities of NSG datasets advanced understanding of fluid flow and transport and biogeochemical transformations occurring across multiple scales within the Critical Zone. I will also highlight how NSG exemplifies solution-based science, by touching on environmental, geotechnical and archaeological examples of integration of science into practice. I will reflect on the frustrating potential pitfalls of near surface geophysics, most notably that (1) geophysical observations only provide proxies of the subsurface properties and processes of interest, and (2) inversion of geophysical datasets to produce images of the subsurface requires skill (and honesty) that, if lacking, can result in gross misinterpretation of the subsurface. However, the outlook for NSG as an essential interdisciplinary field of the earth sciences is overwhelmingly positive, as I will highlight with new opportunities for research and professional development of a diverse geoscience workforce.

Distinguished Professor and Henry Rutgers Professor in Geophysics at Rutgers University Newark. I nternationally recognized expert in near surface geophysics, hydrogeophysicsand biogeophysics. Published +160 papers in peer-reviewed international journals of hydrogeology and geophysics (ISI H index of 40). Former Chair of the AGU Near Surface Geophysics Focus Group, former Chair of the AGU Hydrogeophysics Committee and long-term Associate Editor of Water Resources Research (WRR). Graduated fifteen PhD students, twelve of whom continue research careers in near surface geophysics/hydrogeophysics. Elected fellow of the American Geophysical Union (AGU) in 2018.