Campus Life

USU Geologist Receives International, Early Career Research Honor

USU geologist Alexis Ault, assistant professor in the Department of Geology, is a recipient of the inaugural Charles and Nancy Naeser Prize in Thermochronology. Photo by Wyatt Traughber.

Utah State University geologist Alexis Ault is one of two inaugural recipients of the Charles and Nancy Naeser Prize in Thermochronology awarded by the International Standing Committee for Thermochronology. The newly established honor is awarded annually to early career scientists, who have made outstanding and innovative contributions to the field. 

Ault, an assistant professor in USU’s Department of Geology, will be formally recognized, and deliver a talk, at the committee’s annual meeting Sept. 16-21, 2018, in Quedlinburg, Germany.

“I was nominated for this award by my doctoral and postdoctoral advisors,” says Ault, who joined USU’s faculty in 2014. “This nomination, alone, for an award of this caliber is extremely meaningful to me.”

This is not Ault’s first high-profile award since beginning her faculty career. She is a 2017 recipient of a prestigious Faculty Early Career Development ‘CAREER’ Award from the National Science Foundation. In addition, Ault is the USU College of Science’s 2018 Faculty Researcher of the Year.

Thermochronology, Ault explains, is the study of the thermal evolution of rocks. 

“Heat imparts a signature, almost like a fingerprint, on a rock’s surface,” says Ault, who is studying Utah’s Wasatch Fault. “Our current research focuses on developing a new approach to documenting heat on fault surfaces from earthquakes to reconstruct the Wasatch Front’s fault history and to better understand the modern earthquake hazards.”

She’s quick to point out the contributions of her students and colleagues in pushing her research forward.

“My award talk in Germany will recognize the synergy between students and faculty,” Ault says. “I strive to emulate my mentors in my current advising efforts with my own students. Their hard work is advancing my NSF-funded research.”

Related Links
Alexis Ault, 2018 College of Science Faculty Researcher of the Year 
“Finding Fault: USU Geologist Alexis Ault Receives Prestigious NSF CAREER Grant,” Utah State Today 
Ault Lab at USU 
USU Department of Geology 
USU College of Science 

Contact: Alexis Ault, 757-784-6452,
Writer: Mary-Ann Muffoletto, 435-797-3517,

USU geologist Alexis Ault, right, assists undergrad researchers in her lab. She lists mentoring of the next generation of earth scientist as a key component of her research efforts.


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