Gao named Missouri S&T’s chair of geosciences, geological and petroleum engineering

Posted by
On March 21, 2024

Dr. Stephen S. Gao, Curators’ Distinguished Teaching Professor of geosciences and geological and petroleum engineering (GGPE) at Missouri S&T, will take the reins as permanent chair of his department on Monday, April 1. Since August 2023, he has served as the interim chair. 

Dr. Steve Gao. Photo by Sam O’Keefe/Missouri S&T.

“I have been privileged to work closely with Dr. Steve Gao for several years, and I am confident he will do an excellent job as chair of GGPE,” says Dr. David Borrok, vice provost and dean of S&T’s College of Engineering and Computing. “He has clearly proven on countless occasions that he is not only an exceptional researcher, but an effective and reliable leader as well.” 
Gao, who has been a member of the Missouri S&T faculty since 2006, says he looks forward to making the GGPE programs even stronger. 
From 2022 to 2023, Gao served as interim chair of computer science before becoming interim chair of his home department. He is also director of S&T’s High Performance Computing Research Center.    
Gao specializes in geophysics and focuses on analyzing the temporal and spatial distribution of earthquakes and their effects on human-made structures. His research team uses computationally intensive imaging techniques to explore the earth’s subsurface for resource discovery and to gain insights into the earth’s evolution and behavior, and the team’s latest work incorporated artificial intelligence as well. Projects can cover a range from tens of meters to several thousands of kilometers deep.  
He has won multiple awards at S&T for being an outstanding faculty member, including the faculty excellence, teaching, research, and service awards. In 2018, he won Missouri’s Governor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching
He has authored over 130 peer-reviewed publications in journals including Nature and Science, with many featuring his graduate students as lead authors. He has participated in over 250 conference presentations and has been involved in approximately 40 research projects funded by the National Science Foundation, the American Chemical Society and the petroleum industry. 
These projects support research in Africa, Asia, Central America and across North America.  
At Missouri S&T, he has guided 19 Ph.D. students to graduation as their primary advisor and 14 Ph.D. students as the co-advisor. 
Before joining Missouri S&T, Gao served as a faculty member at Kansas State University, a visiting assistant professor at Arizona State University and a postdoctoral research associate at the Carnegie Institution for Science in Washington, D.C. 
Gao earned a Ph.D. and master’s degree in geophysics and space physics from the University of California, Los Angeles, where he also served as a postdoctoral researcher. His bachelor’s degree in marine geology and geophysics is from Ocean University of China, College of Marine Geosciences, in Qingdao.  
He is a member of the American Geophysical Union, Seismological Society of America, Geological Society of America (GSA), and the Society of Exploration Geophysicists. In 2012, he was elected a fellow of GSA. 

For more information about Missouri S&T’s GGPE programs, visit

About Missouri S&T

Missouri University of Science and Technology (Missouri S&T) is a STEM-focused research university of over 7,000 students located in Rolla, Missouri. Part of the four-campus University of Missouri System, Missouri S&T offers over 100 degrees in 40 areas of study and is among the nation’s top public universities for salary impact, according to the Wall Street Journal. For more information about Missouri S&T, visit  

Share this page

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *