Becoming a geologist was not the original aspiration for Mian Liu, Professor of Geological Sciences. The Chinese government assigned him to the discipline when he was 17 years old, a course of study he later followed at Nanjing University. His initial lack of interest in geology had much to do with the way the subject was taught. “The focus was not on understanding the processes; we were forced to memorize lots of facts,” he explains. Instead, Liu’s earliest interest was in physics, which “just seemed more intuitive.” He began sitting in on a variety of lectures and found that he preferred learning about geophysics, the physics of the Earth, eventually earning a Ph.D. in that area from the University of Arizona.
Liu is a part of a collaborative pilot study with colleagues at MU and partners in China, trying to understand why intraplate earthquakes happen so frequently in northern China. Their research involves installing seismometers to image the Earth’s structure, using GPS to monitor crustal motion, and conducting computer simulations in order to understand how earthquakes occur.