Andrea Donnellan

Andrea Donnellan is manager of JPL’s Instrument Systems Implementation and Concepts Section. Still an active researcher Donnellan collects and analyzes geodetic data to model deformation of mechanical Earth processes and study cascading geohazards. She has applied Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar (InSAR/UAVSAR), Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS), and stereophotogrammetry or Structure from Motion (SfM) from small uninhabited aerial vehicles (sUAS) to studying the underlying dynamics of earthquake fault systems, plate boundaries, landslides, and wildfire/debris flows cascades. Donnellan leads JPL’s Near-Surface Airborne Instruments Laboratory (N-SAIL). She is PI of QUAKES-I developing an airborne imaging suite of visible and SWIR cameras for stereophotogrammetry and improving UAVSAR capability to study and respond to natural disasters. Donnellan is on the NISAR Science Team. In 2021-2021 she led NASA’s Surface Topography and Vegetation Incubation Study, which released its study report in June 2021. Donnellan is Principal Investigator of NASA's GeoGateway project of which the predecessor project QuakeSim won NASA’s Software of the Year Award in 2012. She was 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 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. Donnellan has been Deputy Manager of JPL's Science Division and Area Co-Lead for Natural Disasters in NASA's Applied Sciences Program. She taught Introduction to Geodetic Imaging as a lecturer at California State Polytechnic University - Pomona. Donnellan 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)

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.

Professional Experience: 
  • Jet Propulsion Laboratory (1993–present)
    • Manager Instrument Systems Implementation and Concepts Section (2021–present)
    • Principal Research Scientist (2008–2021)
    • 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 – 2021)
  • California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, Geologic Sciences Lecturer (2018)
  • American Geophysical Union 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)

Selected Awards: 
  • Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science (2020)

  • 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.
Andrea Donnellan
4800 Oak Grove Drive
Pasadena, CA 91109