A primary contributor to the establishment and evolution of plate tectonic theory, Lynn Sykes was born on April 16, 1937 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He attended public school in Northern Virginia outside of Washington, DC. In 1960, after receiving his B.S. and M.S. in geology and geophysics at MIT, Sykes went to Columbia University, earning his Ph.D. in geology in 1965. He stayed on and made his career at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, where he is currently (2004) Higgins Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences. Firmly committed to applying basic research to the needs of society, Dr. Sykes now concentrates on earthquake forecasting and prediction, the seismic character of tectonic plate subduction, and the seismological verification of underground nuclear test-ban treaties.
Dr. Sykes has authored more than 135 scientific journal articles, about 35 of which are on the subject of nuclear-test verification. He was a member of the U.S. delegation that negotiated the Threshold Test Ban Treaty in 1974, and has also testified before the U.S. Congress six times as an expert on nuclear-test verification.
Lynn Sykes is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union (AGU), the Geological Society of America, the Geological Society of London and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He has also held both Sloan and Guggenheim Fellowships, and was honored with the AGU’s Macelwane and Bucher awards, as well as the Medal of the Seismological Society of America. In addition, the Federation of American Scientists presented Sykes its Public Service Award in 1986 for working to revive scientific and public interest in a comprehensive nuclear test ban treaty.