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Andrea Donnellan

Photo of Andrea Donnellan


4800 Oak Grove Drive
M/S 183-501

Pasadena, CA 91109

Curriculum Vitae:

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Member of:

Science Division

GeoGateway Principal Investigator


Andrea Donnellan is a principal research scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. She is Principal Investigator of NASA's GeoGateway project, editor of the American Geophysical Union's Earth and Space Science Journal, Vice Chair of the UNAVCO board, and was President of the American Geophysical Union's Nonlinear Geophysics Section. Donnellan studies earthquakes and crustal deformation by integrating geodetic imaging data and computational infrastructure with modeling and analysis tools. Her current research focus is on analysis and modeling of geodetic observations in California using UAVSAR, GPS, and Structure from Motion. Donnellan produced one of the first papers to interpret GPS data in terms of crustal deformation and fault processes. She demonstrated that GPS measurement of surface deformation could be used to infer geometry and rate of slip on buried faults. More recently she used geodetic imaging data to show a broad pattern of crustal deformation in a region surrounding the 2014 M5.1 La Habra earthquake that was much larger than expected. Several shallow structures were responsible for producing the observed deformation. She also showed that postseismic motion north of the 2010 M7.2 El Mayor - Cucapah Earthquake could be explained by afterslip on the main fault rupture and that postseismic UAVSAR observations could fit using fault friction laws. In 2012 QuakeSim (now GeoGateway) won NASA's Software of the Year Award. Donnellan has been Deputy Manager of the JPL's Science Division, InSAR Pre-Project Scientist for studying natural hazards, ice sheets, and ecosystems, and NASA's Applied Sciences Program Area Co-Lead for Natural Disasters. She teaches Introduction to Geodetic Imaging as a lecturer at California State Polytechnic University - Pomona. From 1998-2015 she was Adjunct Assistant Professor of Research in Earth Sciences at the University of Southern California and she was a Visiting Associate at Caltech's Seismological Laboratory from 1995-1996. She has conducted field studies in California, in Antarctica, on the Altiplano of Bolivia, in Mongolia, and on Variegated Glacier in Alaska. She has been a geophysicist at JPL since 1993. Donnellan has degrees in Geology (BS Ohio State University, 1986), Geophysics (MS and PhD Caltech 1988 and 1991), and Computer Science (MS University of Southern California, 2003). She held a National Research Council postdoctoral fellowship at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center from 1991-1993. Donnellan has received the Presidential Early Career Award, the MUSES of the California Science Center Woman of the Year Award, Women in Aerospace Award for Outstanding Achievement, JPL's Lew Allen award, several NASA Space Act Awards, the Antarctic Service Medal, and has been a finalist in the astronaut selection process three times. Donnellan has a glacier in Antarctica named after her for her work on that continent.


  • Ph.D., Geophysics, California Institute of Technology (1991)
  • M.S., Computer Science, University of Southern California (2003)
  • M.S., Geophysics, California Institute of Technology (1988)
  • B.S., Geology, Ohio State University, with honors and distinction in geology (1986)

Professional Experience

  • Jet Propulsion Laboratory (1993–present)
    • Principal Research Scientist (2008–present)
    • NASA HQ Program Area Co-Lead for Natural Disasters (2009–2010)
    • InSAR Pre-Project Scientist (2005–2008)
    • Deputy Manager, Science Division (2002–2006)
    • Deputy Manager, Exploration Systems Autonomy Section (2001–2002)
    • Supervisor, Data Understanding Systems Group (1999–2001)
    • Satellite Geodesy and Geodynamics Systems Group (1993–1999)
  • Editor AGU Earth and Space Science Journal (2014­ – present)
  • Nonlinear Geophysics Focus Group President/President-Elect (2015–2016/2013–2014)
  • Assistant Adjunct Research Professor, Department of Earth Sciences, University of Southern California (1999-2015)
  • Visiting Associate, Seismological Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, (1995-1996)
  • National Research Council Resident Research Associate, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (1991-1993)

Research Interests

  • Natural hazard assessment using GPS and InSAR space technologies, and numerical modeling.
  • Pattern analysis of geodetic and seismic time series to understand the underlying dynamics of complex earthquake fault systems.
  • Numerical modeling to estimate the rheology of the crust, and fault characteristics and interactions using viscoelastic finite element and analytic elastic models.
  • Collection and interpretation of GPS data with incorporation of InSAR data to study plate tectonics crustal deformation, and the earthquake cycle.

Selected Awards

  • QuakeSim 2.0: NASA Software of the Year Award Co-Winner (2012)
  • Simplex V8: NASA Space Act Award (2012)
  • NASA Group Achievement Award for Response to the Gulf Oil Spill (2011)
  • GeoFESTv.4.8 NASA Space Act Award (2009)
  • MUSES California Science Center Foundation, Woman of the Year (2006)
  • Donnellan Glacier, Advisory Committee on Antarctic Names (2006)
  • NASA Space Act awards for QuakeSim, Simplex, and Disloc (2005)
  • Women at Work Medal of Excellence (2004)
  • Team bonus award for QuakeSim Parallel GeoFest development (2004)
  • NASA Space Act Award for GeoFESTv.4.3 finite element software (2004)
  • Women in Aerospace Award for Outstanding Achievement (2003)
  • JPL Lew Allen Award for Excellence (2000)
  • Southern California Earthquake Center Outreach Award for Education (1998)
  • Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (1996)
  • National Research Council Postdoctoral Fellowship (1991-1993)
  • Outstanding Student Paper Award, Geodesy Section, Fall AGU Meeting (1990)
  • Amoco Scholarship (1985)
  • Undergraduate Research Scholarship, Ohio State University (1985-1986)
  • Ohio State University Field Camp Scholarship (1985)
  • Outstanding Student Award, Ohio State University Field Camp (1985)
  • Antarctic Service Medal (1985)

Selected Publications

  1. Donnellan, A., G. Lyzenga, A. Ansar, C. Goulet, J. Wang, M. Pierce, 2020, Targeted High-Resolution Structure from Motion Observations over the M6.4 and M7.1 Ruptures of the Ridgecrest Earthquake Sequence, Seismological Research Letters.
  2. Donnellan, A., J.W. Parker, M.B. Heflin, G.A. Lyzenga, L. Grant Ludwig, J.B. Rundle, J. Wang, M. Pierce, 2018, Fracture Advancing Step Tectonics Observed in the Yuha Desert and Ocotillo Following the 2010 M7.2 El Mayor - Cucapah Earthquake, Earth and Space Science.
  3. Donnellan, A., J. Parker, C. Milliner, T.G. Farr, M. Glasscoe, Y. Lou, B. Hawkins, 2018, UAVSAR and Optical Analysis of the Thomas Fire Scar and Montecito Debris Flows: Case Study of Methods for Disaster Response using Remote Sensing Products, Earth and Space Science.
  4. Donnellan, A., R. Arrowsmith, V. Langenheim, 2016, Select Airborne Techniques for Mapping and Problem Solving, in Applied Geology in California (book), eds. R. Anderson and H. Ferriz, Star Publishing, California, pp 541-566.
  5. Donnellan, A., L. Grant Ludwig, J.W. Parker, J.B. Rundle, J. Wang, M. Pierce, G. Blewitt, S. Hensley, 2015, Potential for a large earthquake near Los Angeles inferred from the 2014 La Habra earthquake, Earth and Space Sci, 2, 378-385, DOI: 10.1002/2015EA000113.
  6. Donnellan, A., J. Parker, S. Hensley, M. Pierce, J. Wang, J. Rundle, 2014, UAVSAR Observations of Triggered Slip on the Imperial, Superstition Hills, and East Elmore Ranch Faults Associated with the 2010 M 7.2 El Mayor - Cucapah Earthquake, Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems, 15, doi: 10.1002/2013GC005120.
  7. Donnellan, A., and B. Luyendyk, 2004, GPS Evidence for a Coherent Plate and for Postglacial Rebound in Marie Byrd Land, West Antarctica, Global and Planetary Change, 42, 305-311.
  8. Donnellan, A. and G. A. Lyzenga, 1998, GPS Observations of Fault afterslip and upper crustal relaxation following the Northridge earthquake, J. Geophys. Res., 103, 21,285-21,297.
  9. Donnellan, A., B. H. Hager, and R. W. King, 1993, Discrepancy between geologic and geodetic deformation rates in the Ventura basin, Nature, 366, 333-336.
  10. Donnellan, A., B. H. Hager, R. W. King, and T. A. Herring, 1993, Geodetic measurement of deformation in the Ventura basin region, southern California, J. Geophys. Res., 98, 21,727-21,739.