Laurent Demanet is New Director of ERL

Helen Hill for EAPS News
Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Laurent Demanet has been named the Director of MIT's Earth Resources Laboratory (ERL) effective April 1, 2018.

Demanet succeeds Bradford Hager, Cecil and Ida Green Professor of Earth Sciences, who has led the lab since 2012 and now moves on to refocus on his own research.

“ERL is MIT’s home for geophysical research driven by technological questions,” says Demanet. ”The laboratory likely finds itself at the doorstep of an information revolution: new methods of data processing, inference, and learning will change the nature of the research enterprise itself. As director, I hope to encourage ERL to build on its extraordinary legacy and become a constructive actor of that change, in every aspect from scientific and technological, to societal and environmental.”

Demanet is an Associate Professor of Applied Mathematics and holds the Class of 1954 Career Development Chair. Previously, Demanet was ”Szego assistant professor" (a postdoctoral position) in the Department of Mathematics at Stanford. He obtained his PhD in 2006 under Emmanuel Candes, in Applied and Computational Mathematics at Caltech, and holds undergraduate degrees in mathematical engineering and theoretical physics from the Universite de Louvain, Belgium.

A long-time member of ERL, Demanet's research interests include geophysical imaging, inverse problems, scientific computing, and wave propagation. His Imaging and Computing Group studies inverse problems related to wave scattering and high-frequency data, including many questions motivated by real-life challenges in seismic and radar imaging. The group‘s specific research directions include fast algorithms for wave propagation, applied harmonic analysis, nonlinear signal processing, convex relaxations in optimization, and more recently machine learning for geophysics.

Bradford Hager is stepping down as Director of ERL in order to focus on his geomechanics research, particularly on induced seismicity, and on co-directing MITEI’s new Low Carbon Energy Center for Carbon Capture, Utilization, and Storage. During his 6-year term as ERL Director, Hager in particularly proud of the expansion of broad interdepartmental collaborations in geomechanics, including the acquisition of a novel large-volume experimental apparatus to investigate micro-earthquakes in the laboratory using modern seismological techniques, that has overseen.

“I am impressed by Brad Hager’s talent to bring about far-reaching collaborations that look improbable to the rest of us. Under his leadership and vision, ERL has become a powerhouse for integrated geomechanics research ranging from the microscale to the reservoir scale,” says Demanet.