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Skills for the future

Ethan Jean looking into a microscope
High school student Ethan Jean is pictured conducting personal research for an Intel ISEF science competition in Pittsburgh in 2017. He assessed water pollution by analyzing water chemistry and macroinvertebrates. (Photo credit: Peter Li)

Ethan Jean

Cookeville High School, '19
Stanford Earth Young Investigators

“It’s really cool to learn new programming languages and the application of them in the field of geophysics, skills that are going to be useful for the future,” said Ethan Jean, a rising senior at Cookeville High School who worked with Shanna Chu, a PhD student in the Earthquake Seismology Group at Stanford Earth. As part of the 2018 Stanford Earth Young Investigators summer program, Jean assisted on a project by combining statistics, computer science and geophysical concepts to develop a better way to predict rare earthquakes based on data from Japanese seismometers. He is excited to be involved in the project because he finds that “environmental science is more applicable than other fields to solve current societal problems.”

While earthquake prediction methods continue to increase in accuracy and predictive power, researchers still have a hard time predicting particularly deep and rare earthquakes, including many of the earthquakes near Japan. It is especially difficult to predict these earthquakes because scientists cannot pinpoint their cause. With the inclusion of more preexisting seismometer data and more sophisticated types of analyses, Chu and Jean hope that they can build a better method for predicting these rare quakes. Jean is passionate about looking for new and exciting ways to “use science to help improve the world,” he said.

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