Rod Ewing is the Frank Stanton Professor in Nuclear Security and Co-Director of the Center for International Security and Cooperation in the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies and a Professor in the Department of Geological Sciences in the School of Earth, Energy and Environmental Sciences at Stanford University. He is also the Edward H. Kraus Distinguished University Professor Emeritus at the University of Michigan, where he had faculty appointments in the Departments of Earth & Environmental Sciences, Nuclear Engineering & Radiological Sciences and Materials Science & Engineering. He is a Regents' Professor Emeritus at the University of New Mexico, where he was a member of the faculty from 1974 to 1997. Ewing received a B.S. degree in geology from Texas Christian University (1968, summa cum laude) and M.S. (l972) and Ph.D. (l974, with distinction) degrees from Stanford University where he held an NSF Fellowship. His graduate studies focused on an esoteric group of minerals, metamict Nb-Ta-Ti oxides, which are unusual because they have become amorphous due to radiation damage caused by the presence of radioactive elements. Over the past thirty years, the early study of these unusual minerals has blossomed into a broadly-based research program on radiation effects in complex ceramic materials. In 2001, the work on radiation-resistant ceramics was recognized by the DOE, Office of Science – Decades of Discovery as one of the top 101 innovations during the previous 25 years. This has led to the development of techniques to predict the long-term behavior of materials, such as those used in radioactive waste disposal.
He is the author or co-author of over 750 research publications and the editor or co-editor of 18 monographs, proceedings volumes or special issues of journals. He has published widely in mineralogy, geochemistry, materials science, nuclear materials, physics and chemistry in over 100 different ISI journals. He has been granted a patent for the development of a highly durable material for the immobilization of excess weapons plutonium. He is a Founding Editor of the magazine, Elements, which is now supported by 17 earth science societies. He is a Principal Editor for Nano LIFE, an interdisciplinary journal focused on collaboration between physical and medical scientists. In 2014, he was named a Founding Executive Editor of Geochemical Perspective Letters and appointed to the Editorial Advisory Board of Applied Physics Reviews.
Ewing has received the Hawley Medal of the Mineralogical Association of Canada in 1997 and 2002, a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2002, the Dana Medal of the Mineralogical Society of America in 2006, the Lomonosov Gold Medal of the Russian Academy of Sciences in 2006, a Honorary Doctorate from the Université Pierre et Marie Curie in 2007, the Roebling Medal of the Mineralogical Society of America in 2015, Ian Campbell Medal of the American Geoscience Institute, 2015, the Medal of Excellence in Mineralogical Sciences from the International Mineralogical Association in 2015, the Distinguished Public Service Medal of the Mineralogical Society of America in 2019, and is a foreign Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. He is also a fellow of the Geological Society of America, Mineralogical Society of America, Mineralogical Society of Great Britain and Ireland, American Geophysical Union, Geochemical Society, American Ceramic Society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Materials Research Society. He was elected a Fellow of the National Academy of Engineering in 2017.
He has been president of the Mineralogical Society of America (2002) and the International Union of Materials Research Societies (1997-1998). He was the President of the American Geoscience Institute (2018). Ewing has served on the Board of Directors of the Geochemical Society, the Board of Governors of the Gemological Institute of America and the Science and Security Board of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.
He is co-editor of and a contributing author of Radioactive Waste Forms for the Future (North-Holland Physics, Amsterdam, 1988) and Uncertainty Underground – Yucca Mountain and the Nation’s High-Level Nuclear Waste (MIT Press, 2006). Professor Ewing has served on thirteen National Research Council committees and board for the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine that have reviewed issues related to nuclear waste and nuclear weapons. In 2012, he was appointed by President Obama to serve as the Chair of the Nuclear Waste Technical Review Board, which is responsible for ongoing and integrated technical review of DOE activities related to transporting, packaging, storing and disposing of spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste; he stepped down from the Board in 2017.