Tanya Atwater
NSF Award Recognition: NSF 2002 Distinguished Teaching Scholars

Research Contributions: Dr. Atwater conducts research in marine geophysics and geology. Her pioneering work in the plate tectonic evolution of western North America continues to be widely cited. Her research on spreading systems led to the discovery that most of the ocean’s crust was formed within a few kilometers of the spreading centers. Dr. Atwater is a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union and the Geological Society of America, and was co-winner of the Newcomb Cleveland Prize of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. She is a member of the National Academy of Sciences.

Educational Contributions: Dr. Atwater’s animated teaching film, Continental Drift and Plate Tectonics, received the highest recommendation from the Journal of Geological Education and has been used in classrooms from fifth grade through upper-level university classes. She also has developed techniques for creating visualization packages that facilitate the understanding of complex 3-D geology.

Director's Award Project: In response to widespread interest in creating geological animations, Dr. Atwater has established an Educational Multimedia Visualization Center. At the Center visiting faculty from diverse regions have access to the technical expertise and resources needed to produce high-quality computer animations representing a region’s geology. Once created, these visually-stimulating and information-rich tools are used by faculty and students in college and high school-level courses. The Center also serves as a repository and distribution site so that teaching tools may be shared across regions and institutions.

from NSF Event, 2002 Program