Jian Lin was born and raised in China’s southern coastal city of Fuzhou, not far from the quake-prone island of Taiwan. When he was small, his father explained to him that the dangling light in their house went into a wild swing because of a major quake in Taiwan. The mid-1970s was an unusually apprehensive era when the whole nation of China felt as if quakes could occur anywhere at any time. Lin became a voluntary “earthquake watcher” in school. He kept a diary of water level changes in an abandoned well and the gentle tilting of the ground, phoning in readings to a local seismological center. He studied physics and seismology at the University of Science and Technology of China, conducted Ph.D. research at Brown University in Providence, RI, and pursued earthquake geophysics at the U.S. Geological Survey in Menlo Park, California. At WHOI, he has investigated mid-ocean ridges, hotspots, and underwater volcanoes, while continuing his work on quakes. The Institute for Scientific Information recently recognized Lin as among the most cited authors on earthquake research in the past decade. His paper with Geoffrey King (Institut de Physique du Globe) and Ross Stein (USGS) was the most cited earthquake research article in the past decade.
(Photo by Andre Smit, University of Capetown)