Born and raised in Norway, Prof. Wessel received his Ph.D. from Columbia University in N.Y. in 1990 in Geosciences. He then came to University of Hawai‘i, Manoa, for a postdoctoral position, and applied for a faculty position in the Department of Geology and Geophysics when it became available. And here he has remained for the last 19 years. He teaches both undergraduate classes and graduate classes, the former in data analysis. They use Matlab in a 200 level class to introduce students to the massive data analysis, manipulation, and visualization required in the geosciences. His graduate course is a seminar in Advanced Plate Tectonics. He currently has two (2) graduate students, one of which (Seung-Sep Kim) has received a 2007 UH-MHPCC Engagement Grant Award to investigate finding seamounts in the satellite-derived gravity field. You can read more about his project at the Engagement Grant Page on this web site.
In addition to locating seamounts, Prof. Wessel studies plate motions and hot spot theory, including volcanism caused by deep-seated mantle plumes. While we know that the plates move over the plumes, it is not yet known whether the plumes are stationary or whether they also move. He has been using a National Science Foundation (NSF) Grant to model the plate motion. It is a massive data problem to separate the signal from the background, which he does on the Maui High Performance Computing Center (MHPCC) cluster. The data is then transferred to his office workstations for post-processing. To read more about Prof. Wessel’s work, go to http://www.soest.hawaii.edu/pwessel.