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Juan Carlos Afonso


After graduating with a PhD in theoretical geophysics at Carleton University in late 2006, Juan C. Afonso  undertook  postdoctoral research at the Institute of Earth Sciences Jaume Almera (CSIC, Barcelona) on the development of new methods to study the thermal and compositional structures of the lithospheric/sublithospheric upper mantle. He subsequently joined Macquarie University in 2009 as part of the recruitment program CoRE (Concentration of Research Excellence). In 2022, he moved to the Netherlands to become a full-time staff in ITC, University of Twente. 

His background is in theoretical and computational geophysics/geodynamics and his interests span many different geophysical, geochemical and geological methods and processes. His current research integrates different disciplines such as mineral physics, potential field modelling, thermodynamics, nonlinear inversion and physics of the mantle in general, to explore and improve our understanding of plate tectonics. In particular, he is interested in the development of new methodologies that will help us understand the structure and evolution of the lithosphere, the modelling of multiphase multicomponent reactive flow, the mechanical and chemical interactions between plates and the sublithospheric mantle, and their effects on small- and large-scale tectonic processes.

He has published extensively in different fields of geosciences (e.g. geochemistry, geophysics, basin analysis, geodynamics, etc), computational engineering and material sciences, with a strong focus on multi-observable (joint) geophysical modelling and inversion for lithospheric structure and evolution. He was an Adjunct Professor at the Centre for Earth Evolution and Dynamics (CEED), University of Oslo and is currently a member of the editorial board of Geophysical Journal International, a Visiting Professor at the Department of Earth and Space Sciences at SUSTech University and an Honorary Professor at the Dept. of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Macquarie University.

Dr Afonso's current research includes the development of methodologies (and associated computational tools) that formally combine geophysics, numerical modelling, petrology and geochemistry to obtain reliable and realistic models of the Earth's interior using satellite-derived and land-based data sets. For this (and related) work he has received the 2013 EGU Outstanding Young Scientist Award (Geodynamics Division), the 2017 Anton Hales Medal of the Australian Academy of Sciences and the 2019 IUGG Early Career Scientist Award, among others.

Currently, Dr. Afonso is the leader and coordinator of the following large projects:

- The EU Marie Skłodowska-Curie Doctoral Network EarthSafe: Unveiling Earth's Critical Resources for Clean Energy and a Sustainable Future (

- The passive seismic experiment PatagoniARRAY (imaging and modelling the Patagonian lithosphere)

- The NWO DeepNL Project INTEGRATION (Integrated subsurface modelling beneath Groningen and on-shore Netherlands from multi-data probabilistic inversions; link

He also enjoys very much spending quality time with his family and playing drums whenever possible...

  • 1997-2002 Lic. (M.Sci. equivalent) Earth Sci., Univ. Patagonia, (UNPSJB), Argentina (honourable mention)

  • Sept 2002- Oct 2006 Ph.D., Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada (University medal)

  • 2007-2008 Postdoctoral researcher at the Inst. Earth Sci. Jaume Almera, Barcelona, National Research Council of Spain.

  • 2009 - 2017 Lecturer/Senior Lecturer/Assoc. Professor at the Dept. of Earth Planet. Sci., Macquarie University. 

  • 2017-2021: Professor of Geophysics, Dept. Earth Planet. Sci., Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia and Adjunct Professor, CEED Centre of Excellence, Department of Geosciences, University of Oslo, Norway.

  • 2022-present: A/Prof. of Geophysics, Faculty ITC, University of Twente, the Netherlands and Hon. Prof. at Macquarie University, Australia.

  • 2022-present: Visiting Professor, Dept. Earth and Space Sciences, SUSTech, China.

Education and employment

Supervised students and postdoctoral researchers

Graduate students

  • Elyse Schinella (PhD completed 2012)

  • Chris J. Grose (PhD completed 2015, University Award)

  • Anthony Lanati (MRes completed 2015)

  • Mehdi Qashqai (PhD completed 2016)

  • Chengxin Jiang (PhD completed 2016)

  • Jun Xie (PhD completed 2016)

  • Benat Oliveira Bravo (PhD completed 2017,University Award and La Caixa Award)

  • Kai Wang (PhD completed 2017)

  • Lucas Gamertsfelder (MRes completed 2017)

  • Byron Gear (MRes completed 2017)

  • Nasir Lukman (MSci candidate, 2023)

  • Kelly Vaughn-Taylor (MRes, completed 2020)

  • Kai Wang (PhD completed 2017)

  • Farshad Salajegheh (PhD candidate and Tech. Assistant)

  • Anqi Zhang (PhD completed 2021)

  • Olga Galabert (PhD completed 2020)

  • Marti Burcet (PhD candidate)

  • Constanza Manassero (PhD completed 2019)

  • Thomas Connell (MRes, completed 2018)

  • Xiaoyu Yang (PhD completed 2023)

  • Fatimah Abdulghafur (PhD candidate) 

  • Muhammad Jawad (PhD candidate)

  • Ali Jamasb (PhD Candidate)

  • Daniel Aranguren Canal (PhD candidate)

  • Lulu Lei (PhD candidate)


  • Dr. Bin Shan (Postdoc 2013-2015, now professor at Wuhan University, China)

  • Dr. Zhen Guo (Postdoc 2014-2016, now professor at Southern University of Science and Technology, China)

  • Dr. Mehdi Qashqai (Postdoc 2017, now researcher at CSIRO)

  • Dr. Benat Oliveira Bravo (Postdoc 2017 - current),

  • Dr. Ilya Fomin (postdoc 2018 - current)

  • Dr. Walid Ben-Mansour (postdoc 2018-2020)

  • Dr. Marthe Kloecking (postdoc, DAAD-funded, 2018-2019)

  • Dr. Chongzhi Dong (CSC fellow, 2018-2019)

  • Dr. Guangliang Yang (CSC fellow, 2018-2019)

  • Dr. Maria Manassero (postdoc 2019 - 2023)

Selected honors and awards

  • 2023: Keynote speaker SEG 2023 Conference, London.

  • 2023: Keynote speaker at LMU Workshop "The ambiguity of the current understandings in geophysics".  

  • 2022: Plenary speaker at the XXI Argentinian Geological Congress and Gordon Research Conference, Barcelona.

  • 2019: Keynote Lecturer (honorary), University of La Plata, Argentina

  • 2019: IUGG Early Career Scientists Award

  • 2018: FSE Leadership in Research Award

  • 2017: Anton Hales Medal from the Australian Academy of Sciences for distinguished research in Earth Sciences

  • 2014: Elected member of theUNCOVER science working group

  • 2014: Elected member of the Solid Earth Geophysics Committee, Geol. Society Australia

  • 2013: Outstanding Young Scientist Award (European Geosciences Union, Geodynamics Division)

  • 2012: Elected member of the Technical Committee NeCTAR projectAustralia

  • 2010: Collins (honorary) Lecturer, Dept. Earth Sci., Carleton Univ., Ottawa, Canada

  • 2010: Finalist Tectonics Division EGU Outstanding Young Scientist Award

  • 2006: Carleton University Medal for outstanding graduate work at a doctoral level

  • 2006: ESF (EUROCORES grant); 2003/2004 - 2004/2005 - 2005/2006: Ontario Graduate Scholarship (OGS) for international students

  • 2004: GAC-MAC Graduate Scholarship endowed by the Geological Association of Canada and the Mineralogical Association of Canada for excellence in graduate studies

  • 2002/2003: Indira Gandhi Memorial Fellowship (awarded to outstanding international students at Carleton Univ.)

  • 2002/2005-2005/2006: Carleton Univ. Scholarship, Dean of Graduate Studies

  • 2002/2003 - 2003/2004 - 2004/2005: Carleton University Academic Excellence Scholarship

  • 2002: Repsol-YPF Academic Excellence National Scholarship

  • 2002: Honorable Mention from the National University of Patagonia (U.N.P.S.J.B.) for having reached the highest score of the 2002 class.

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