Stanford Earth’s Stephan Graham recognized for lifetime of distinguished research and teaching

Stanford Earth geological sciences Professor STEPHAN GRAHAM began his exploration of the stratigraphic record in southern Indiana as a boy collecting fossils. In the years since, Graham has developed seminal research in the field of sedimentation and tectonics and has mentored generations of graduate students.

Stephan Graham
Stephan Graham (Photo: Toni Bird)

On April 4, the Society of Sedimentary Geologists recognized his contributions with the Francis J. Pettijohn Medal for a lifetime of distinguished research and teaching.

Graham’s research and fieldwork locations are diverse. He has published more than 200 academic papers on topics including large-scale plate-tectonic modeling of the evolution of sedimentary basins, sedimentary constraints along the San Andreas fault system, detailed analyses of modern and ancient submarine canyons, controls on hydrocarbon occurrences, and the regional geology of Asia, especially in Tibet and Mongolia.

Following a few years working at Exxon and Chevron, Graham became a teacher and generous mentor to generations of students in his 37 years at Stanford, where he is the Welton Joseph and Maud L’Anphere Crook Professor.

In 1997, Stephan Graham, center, along with graduate students Laura Webb, left and Cari Johnson, traveled to present-day Mongolia to explore an ancient petrified forest. (Image credit: Graham Labs)
In 1997, Stephan Graham, center, along with graduate students Laura Webb, left, and Cari Johnson, traveled to present-day Mongolia to explore an ancient petrified forest. (Photo: Graham Labs)

Most of Graham’s publications are co-authored with his graduate students, who have been expertly trained through his rigorous yet supportive advising. His former graduate students and postdoctoral researchers populate positions in academia, industry and governments around the world.

One of them, research scientist Jacob Covault, ’04, PhD ’08, was honored April 4 with the Society of Sedimentary Geologists’ mid-career Dickinson Award, which is named after the late Bill Dickinson, a former Stanford Earth professor and recipient of the school’s first Alumni Award in 2015. Covault is a research scientist at the University of Texas and chairperson of the Stanford Earth Alumni Council.

Watch a video of Stephan Graham describing submarine canyons in Point Lobos State Natural Reserve near Monterey, California.