Michael Walter named Geophysical Laboratory director

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Experimental petrologist Michael Walter has been selected as the eighth director of Carnegie’s Geophysical Laboratory.

Washington, DC— Experimental petrologist Michael Walter, currently head of the School of Earth Sciences at the University of Bristol, has been selected as the eighth director of Carnegie’s Geophysical Laboratory.  He will begin his directorship on April 1, 2018.  

Walter has been at Bristol since 2004 and began a five-year term as head of school in 2013. He received his PhD in geology and Earth science from the University of Texas, Dallas, and a Bachelor of Science in the same from the University of Nebraska, Omaha. Early in his career, Walter was a postdoctoral fellow at the Geophysical Laboratory, so his new role is a homecoming.

Walter’s recent research has focused on the period early in Earth’s history, shortly after the planet accreted from the cloud of gas and dust surrounding our young Sun, when the mantle and the core first separated into distinct layers. Current topics of investigation also include the structure and properties of various compounds under the extreme pressures and temperatures found deep inside the planet, and information about the pressure, temperature, and chemical conditions of the mantle that can be gleaned from mineral impurities preserved inside diamonds.

His scientific background makes him an ideal fit to oversee the diverse scientific research conducted at Carnegie’s Geophysical Laboratory.  GL investigators explore fundamental physics and chemistry at high pressures and temperatures, materials science, astrobiology, mineralogy, geochemistry, planetary differentiation, and Solar System formation. Walter is a member of the interdisciplinary Deep Carbon Observatory program, the secretariat of which is based at the department.

“I am delighted that such an accomplished and remarkable scientist will join us to lead the Geophysical Laboratory forward.  Mike understands Carnegie’s distinctive position in the scientific community and the enormous potential of the Geophysical Laboratory’s breadth of research and capacity for interdisciplinary collaboration,” said Carnegie President Matthew Scott.

He added: “George Cody has done a spectacular job as acting director.  The members of the department and I are deeply grateful for his dedication and hard work, and will celebrate with him his return to full-time research.”

Reflecting on his new position, Walter said: “I am absolutely thrilled and humbled to take on this new challenge. It is a great privilege to be able to help shape the future of the Geophysical Laboratory and to continue its long tradition of scientific excellence. And I very much look forward to working together with all the amazingly talented people throughout Carnegie Science to achieve our lofty ambitions.”