Alexis K. Ault

Assistant Professor

Utah State University

fault rock thermochronology, geochronology,

and continental tectonics


A transformative advance in Earth science is the development of thermochronology to quantify the thermal evolution of rocks through time as they move through the subsurface of the Earth. These analytical tools are also now a cornerstone of geoscience investigations to understand plate tectonics, how and why mountains are built, and landscape evolution. My research pushes the boundaries of low-temperature thermochronology, specifically (U-Th)/He dating, to resolve the timing of cryptic thermal signatures of fundamental Earth processes. I integrate these methods with field, geologic, and geochemical data to decode the thermal fingerprint and mineralogical record of earthquakes in exhumed fault systems, groundwater movement in faults and fractures, and the long-term erosion history of ancient cratons to understand how plate tectonics operates in the cores of continents.

Utah State University

Department of Geology

4505 Old Main Hill

Logan, UT 84322


education and professional experience

Assistant Professor (2014-present)

Utah State University, Department of Geology

NSF Postdoctoral Fellow (2012-2014)

University of Arizona, Department of Geosciences

Ph.D. (2007-2012)

University of Colorado at Boulder, Department of Geological Sciences

M.Sc. (2004-2007)

University of New Mexico, Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences

B.A. (1999-2003)

Wellesley College, Departments of Geology and Political Science


4/2018: Alexis is awarded the Charles and Nancy Naesar Prize - an Early Career Award bestowed by the International Standing Committee on Thermochronology.

4/2018: Alexis is awarded USU Researcher of the Year for the College of Science. Learn more here and here!

4/2018: Former and future FOTTTS team member Jordan Jensen is awarded a NSF Graduate Research Fellowship and will be returning to USU for his PhD with Alexis! Congratulations JLJ!

4/2018: FOTTTS team member Leah Houser is awarded RMAG and GSA grants! Rob McDermott is awarded the USU COS Claude Zobell Award! Congratulations!

10/2017: Members of the FOTTTS team work with middle school students at the Promontory School for Expeditionary Learning in the classroom, field, and USU SEM laboratory as part of Alexis’ NSF CAREER education program. Learn more about fieldwork in the Wasatch fault zone here!

9/2017: Alexis, Gabriele, and Rob present at the Geological Society of America meeting in Seattle.

9/2017: Welcome Dr. Gabriele Calzolari to the FOTTTS team! Gabriele is a new postdoctoral fellow joining the group.

8/2017: Leah Houser joins the FOTTTS team as a MSc student working with Alexis on granite (silica-rich) fault mirrors in the Wasatch fault damage zone. Welcome Leah!

5/2017: Alexis is awarded a NSF CAREER grant. Learn more about Alexis’ 5-year grant here, here, and here!