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Reid Cooper

Geological Sciences
Phone: +1 401 863 2160

The overarching theme of the research pursued by my group is solid-state mechanical and chemical kinetics in both crystalline and amorphous planetary materials. Important in this introduction is to note that the work is highly interdisciplinary, with multiple interactions in geophysics and petrology within the department and in materials science and solid mechanics beyond the department.


I graduated with a B.S. in civil engineering from George Washington University in 1977 and completed my Ph.D. in materials science and engineering at Cornell University in 1983. My doctoral work involved the application of mechanical-properties theory and experiment to problems in geophysics and tectonics; in this context I pursued, too, formal education in Earth science. Upon completion of my doctorate, I was a Senior Research Scientist for Corning Glass Works, studying the physics and chemistry of glass-ceramics, of refractory ceramic composites and of silicate melts, garnering a number of patents. Prior to joining the faculty in Geological Sciences at Brown in 2003, I spent 17 years as a professor in materials science and engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Within that time, I also enjoyed sabbatical appointments in geological sciences at Caltech and in the materials research division at Los Alamos National Laboratory.


The overall theme of the research pursued in my group is the dynamic responses, that is, the mechanical and chemical kinetics, of both crystalline and amorphous planetary materials. In our case, mechanical properties are contemplated from the perspective of chemical thermodynamics, with deviatoric stress being an additional potential in the Gibbs energy and elasticity, fracture, flow, attenuation/anelasticity, etc., being kinetic responses to dissipate the added mechanical potential. In reactions, including mechanical ones, kinetic paths produce morphologies (textures) that, in general, are metastable structures — even in nature, even at geological rates. As a consequence, one must proceed judiciously: application of equilibrium thermodynamics is not always correct. Current projects include (a) the microphysics behind the attenuation of seismic waves (applied to understanding the structure of Earth's mantle as well as to the energy-dissipation capabilities of the shells of the icy satellites of the outer solar system), (b) redox and cooling dynamics in basaltic liquids and glasses as they affect thermal- and chemical-remanent magnetism, and (c) the role of grain- and heterophase-boundary sliding in affecting and effecting metamorphic layering. Please see the research pages for descriptions of the projects and lists of relevant references.


Fellow, American Geophysical Union (2005)

Fellow, Mineralogical Society of America (1996)

H.I. Romnes Faculty Research Fellowship, UW-Madison 1994-1999

Presidential Young Investigator Award, National Science Foundation 1987-1992

Polygon Engineering Council Outstanding Instructor Award, UW- Madison 1987, 1993, 1994, 1997, 2002

University of Wisconsin Regents Undergraduate Teaching Award 1992

Tau Beta Pi (National Engineering Honor Society) National Fellowship 1977-78


American Geophysical Union (Fellow)

Mineralogical Society of America (Fellow)

American Ceramic Society

American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Associate Editor, Journal of Geophysical Research, 2006-present


GEOL 0160 F: First Year Seminar: Patterns in Nature, in Society

GEOL 0230: Geochemistry: Earth & Planetary Materials & their Processes

GEOL 1960 J: Reactions & Rheology: Chemical & Mechanical Kinetics in Mineral Systems

GEOL 2410: Kinetics of Geochemical Processes

GEOL 2460: Phase Equilibria

Current Graduate Students:
Jamie Beaulieu
Hillary O'Brien

Funded Research

Effects of Deformation-Induced Microstructure, Texture and the Spatial Distribution of Phases on the Steady-State Rheology and Atenuation Response(s) of Mantle Minerals; National Science Foundation: Division of Earth Sciences program in Geophysics; R.F. Cooper, Principal Investigator.

Viscoelastic and Plastic Rheologies of Eutectic Water-Ice/Salt-Hydrate Aggregates with Application to Tectonic Processes on Europa NASA Science Mission Directorate, Program in Planetary Geology and Geophysics; R.F. Cooper, Principal Investigator.

Origin of Magnetite and Magnetic Remanence in Submarine Basaltic Glass and Implications for Glass Paleointensities (Collaborative Research); National Science Foundation: Division of Earth Sciences program in Geophysics; R.F. Cooper and J.S. Gee (Scripps Oceanographic Institute, San Diego, CA), Co-Principal Investigators.

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Curriculum Vitae

Download Reid Cooper's Curriculum Vitae in PDF Format