Wayne D. Pennington

Wayne D. Pennington


Dean, College of Engineering

Professor of Geophysical Engineering, Geological and Mining Engineering and Sciences

  • PhD, Geophysics and Geology, University of Wisconsin
  • MS, Geophysics and Geology, Cornell University
  • AB, Geology and Geophysics, Princeton University


A geophysicist, Pennington’s research is centered on the response of Earth materials to changes in physical conditions, such as stress, saturation, and temperature. The applications of this work are found in induced seismicity, deep earthquakes, as well as oil and gas exploration and development.

He has worked in both academia and in industry and has conducted fieldwork at sites around the world. In the 1970s, he studied tectonic earthquakes in Latin America and Pakistan. In the 1980s, at the University of Texas at Austin, he studied the relationship of earthquakes to oil and gas production. Following that, he worked at the research laboratory for Marathon Oil Company, studying techniques to improve the identification of, and production from, oil and gas reservoirs. Since 1994, he has been at Michigan Tech, teaching and conducting research into geophysical observations of oil and gas production.

Pennington was named a 2009-10 Jefferson Science Fellow by the US Department of State. The Jefferson Science Fellowship was established to create opportunities for substantial engagement of tenured scientists and engineers from US academic institutions. He served a one-year assignment working full-time as a Senior Engineering Advisor with a group at USAID, the Agency for International Development, helping to improve methods of infrastructure development for increased capacity building, particularly in post-disaster and post-conflict settings in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Pennington is President-elect of the American Geological Institute. He has also served as the first vice president for the Society of Exploration Geophysicists, published over thirty papers, and coauthored a book (with his students).

He received his degrees from Princeton University (1972), Cornell University (1976), and University of Wisconsin-Madison (1979).

Research Interests

  • Properties of rocks under varying conditions of saturation, stress, and heterogeneity
  • Oil and gas exploration and development
  • Seismic petrophysics -- relating rock properties to seismic observations, particularly in oil and gas development
  • Earthquake seismology, particularly induced seismicity, and humanitarian aspects of large earthquakes
  • Administrator of the SPOT Lab (seismic petrophysics: observation and theory)