Born 7/14/53 in Salt Lake City, raised in Phoenix, Arizona.

Spouse: Atsuko Kobayashi; two children (Jiseki & Koseki)




B.S. 1975 (Biology, w/hon.)

The California Institute of Technology

M.S. 1975 (Geology)

The California Institute of Technology

M.A. 1978 (Geology)

Princeton University

Ph.D.1979 (Geology/Geobiology)

Princeton University



Fellowships and Awards:


National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Fellow, 9/'75 - 8/'78.

Harry H. Hess Fellow, Princeton University 1975/'76.

Thomas J. Watson Foundation Fellow , 1975/'76.

Phelps-Dodge Fellow, Princeton University, 1978/'79.

NSF National Needs Postdoctoral Fellow, 1979/'80.

NSF Presidential Young Investigator Award, 4/'84 - 12/'89.

Faculty of Engineering Fellowship, Kyushu University 3/'90 - 10/'90.

Visiting Professor of Astrobiology, University of Buenos Aires, 6/'00.

Excellence in Teaching Award, Associated Students of Caltech, 6/'00.

Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), 10/'01.

Visiting Professor, Tokyo University, 2002.

Richard P. Feynman Prize for Excellence in Teaching, Caltech, 02/'02.

Fellow, American Geophysical Union (AGU) 2/'03

Fellow, American Academy of Arts & Sciences , 5/'03

Asteriod 27711 Kirschvink , named May, 2003.


 Major Original Scientific Contributions:

Prediction and Discovery of Magnetite-based Magnetoreception and Receptors in Animals; Discovery of Bacterial Magnetofossils & South-Seeking Magnetotactic Bacteria; The Snowball Earth Hypothesis for Precambrian Glaciations; The Cambrian Explosion, True Polar Wander & Carbon Cycles; The Grand Unified Theory of Biomineralization; Martian Panspermia


 Professional Associations and Memberships:

American Geophysical Union; Geological Society of America; European Geophysical Society; American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS); Japan Geophysics Society

Editorial Boards, Geology, 1983 - 1985; Earth & Planetary Science Letters 1991-2007.

IUGS - IGCP:  (former) Voting member, Subcommissions on Cambrian Stratigraphy, Precambrian/Cambrian, Cambrian/Ordovician Boundary Groups.

National Institutes of Health (NIH) Reviewer's Reserve, 1993+



U.S. Geological Survey (W.A.E.), 6/72 - 12/81

Visiting Research Fellow, Princeton University, 7/80 - 9/80

Research Associate, Princeton University, 10/80 - 6/81

Assistant Professor of Geobiology, Caltech, 7/81 - 6/87

Associate Professor of Geobiology, Caltech, 7/87 - 5/92

Professor of Geobiology, Caltech, 6/92-5/04

Nico and Marilyn Van Wingen Professor of Geobiology, 6/04 - present


 PhD Theses Supervised or Co-supervised by J. Kirschvink:

Walker, Michael M., 1983. "Studies of magnetic sensitivity in the Yellowfin Tuna, Thunnus albacares, (U. Hawaii @ Manoa, Dept. of Zoology), 263 p.

Meisling, Kristen E., 1983. "Neotectonics of the north frontal fault system of the San Bernardino Mountains, southern California: Cajon Pass to Lucerne Valley", Caltech PhD Thesis, 394p.

Weldon, Ray J. II, 1985. "The Late Cenozoic Geology of Cajon Pass; Implications for tectonics and sedimentation along the San Andreas Fault", Caltech PhD Thesis, 381pp.

Chang, S-B. Robin., 1988. "Bacterial Magnetite in sedimentary deposits and its geophysical and paleoecological implications", Caltech PhD Thesis, 266pp.

Salyards, Stephen L., 1988. "Dating and characterizing late Holocene earthquakes using paleomagnetics", Caltech PhD Thesis, 217pp.

McNeill, D.F., 1989. "Magnetostratigraphic dating and magnetization of Cenozoic platform carbonates from the Bahamas.", (University of Miami, RSMAS), 210pp.

Wei Liu, 1990. "Paleomagnetism of Miocene Sedimentary Rocks in the Transverse Ranges: Implications for tectonic hisotry", Caltech PhD Thesis, 148pp.

Ripperdan, Robert L., 1990. "Magnetostratigraphic Investigations of the lower Paleozoic period boundaries, and associated paleogeographic implications", Caltech PhD Thesis, 171pp.

Holt, J.H., 1997. "I. Detailed records of geomagnetic field behavior from Death Valley and Hawaii II. An age constraint on Gulf of California rifting from Santa Rosalia, Baja California, Caltech PhD Thesis, 180 pp.

Evans, D.A., 1998. I. "Neoproterozoic-Paleozoic supercontinental tectonics and true polar wander, II. Temporal and spatial distributions of Proterozoic glaciations". Caltech PhD Thesis, 326 pp.

Kopp, R. E., 2007. The identification and interpretation of microbial geobiomagnetism. Caltech PhD Thesis, 190 pp.

Nash, C.Z., 2008. Mechanisms and Evolution of Magnetotactic Bacteria. Caltech PhD Thesis, 150 pp.


Weiss, B.P., 2003.   Martian Paleomagnetism with SQUID Microscope.  Caltech PhD Thesis, 76 pp. (Winner of the 2003 Milton and Francis Clauser Prize for the Caltech PhD thesis that does the most to 'Expand Human Thought and Endeavor')


 Non-Caltech Masters Theses Supervised or Co-supervised by J. Kirschvink:

White, Rene E., 1987. "Paleomagnetism of the Tulare formation from cores and surface exposures, West-Central and Southwestern San Joaquin Valley, California." (California State University, Long Beach), 272pp.


 Refereed Publications through 1990:

1. 1978a

Kirschvink, J.L., "The Precambrian-Cambrian boundary problem: Magnetostratigraphy of the Amadeus Basin, Central Australia," Geological Magazine 115, 139-150.

2. 1978b

Kirschvink, J.L., "The Precambrian-Cambrian boundary problem: Paleomagnetic directions from the Amadeus Basin, Central Australia," Earth & Planetary Science Letters 40, 91-100.

3. 1978c

Gould, J.L., Kirschvink, J.L., and Deffeyes, K.S., "Bees have magnetic remanence," Science 201, 1026-1028.

4. 1979a

Kirschvink, J.L. and Lowenstam, H.A., " Mineralization and magnetization of chiton teeth: Paleomagnetic, sedimentologic, and biologic implications of organic magnetite ," Earth & Planetary Science Letters 44, 193-204. [Warning: file contains many images and is 2.3MB in size]

5. 1979b

Walcott, C., Gould, J.L., and Kirschvink, J.L., "Pigeons have magnets," Science 205, 1027-1029.

6. 1979c

Kirschvink, J.L., Ph.D. Thesis, Princeton University: I. A paleomagnetic approach to the Precambrian-Cambrian boundary problem. II. Biogenic magnetite: its role in the magnetization of sediments and as the basis of magnetic field detection in animals. Xerox University Microfilms International (May 1979).

7. 1980a

Gould, J.L., Kirschvink, J.L., Deffeyes, K.S., and Brines, M.L., "Orientation of demagnetized bees," J. Exp. Biol. 86, 1-9.

8. 1980b

Kirschvink, J.L., " The least-squares line and plane and the analysis of paleomagnetic data: examples from Siberia and Morocco ," Geoph. J. Royal Astr. Soc. 62, 699-718.

9. 1980c

Kirschvink, J.L., " South-seeking magnetic bacteria ," J. Exp. Biol. 86, 345-347.

10. 1981a

Kirschvink, J.L. and Gould, J.L., "Biogenic magnetite as a basis for magnetic field sensitivity in animals ," Bio Systems 13, 181-201.

11. 1981b

Kirschvink, J.L., "How sensitive should a rock magnetometer be for use in paleomagnetism?" in: H. Weinstock and W.C. Overton (eds.), SQUID Applications to Geophysics. The Society of Exploration Geophysicists, Tulsa, Oklahoma, 111-114.

12. 1981c

Kirschvink, J.L., "Ferromagnetic crystals (magnetite?) in human tissue," J. Exp. Biol. 92, 333-335.

13. 1981d

Kirschvink, J.L., "The horizontal magnetic dance of the honey bee is compatible with a single-domain ferromagnetic magnetoreceptor ," Bio Systems 14, 193-203.

14. 1981e

Kirschvink, J.L., "Biogenic Magnetite (Fe3O4): A ferrimagnetic mineral in bacteria, animals, and man," in: Ferrites: , H. Watanabe, S. Iida and M. Sugimoto (eds.), 135-138.

15. 1982a

Kirschvink, J.L., Tabrah, F., and Batkin, S., "Ferromagnetism in two mouse tumours," J. Exp. Biol. 101, 321-326.

16. 1982b

Kirschvink, J.L., "Birds, bees and magnetism: A new look at the old problem of magnetoreception" (review article), Trends in Neurosciences V.5, 160-167.

17. 1982c

Kirschvink, J.L., "" Paleomagnetic evidence for fossil biogenic magnetite in western Crete ," Earth & Planetary Science Letters 59, 388-392.

18. 1982d

Walker, M.M., Dizon, A.E., and Kirschvink, J.L., "Geomagnetic field detection by Yellowfin Tuna (Thunnus albacares)," Oceans 82, IEEE Press, New York, 755-758.

19. 1983a

Kirschvink, J.L., "Biogenic ferrimagnetism: a new biomagnetism," ch. 14 in: Biomagnetism: An Interdisciplinary Approach. (S. Williamson et al., eds.), Plenum Press, NY, 501-532.

20. 1983b

Kirschvink, J.L., "Biomagnetic geomagnetism," Rev. Geoph. Space Phys. 21, 672-675.

21. 1984a

Walker, M.M., Kirschvink, J.L., Chang, S-B.R., and Dizon, A.E., "A candidate magnetic sense organ in the Yellowfin Tuna Thunnus albacares, " Science 224, 751-753.

22. 1984b

Kirschvink, J.L. and A. Yu. Rozanov, "Magnetostratigraphy of Lower Cambrian strata from the Siberian Platform: A paleomagnetic pole and a preliminary polarity time scale," Geol. Mag. 121, 189-203.

23. 1984c

Kirschvink, J.L., and Chang, S-B.R., " Ultra fine-grained magnetite in deep-sea sediments: possible bacterial magnetofossils," Geology 12, 559-562.

24. 1984d

Rossman, G.R. and Kirschvink, J.L., "Magnetic properties of gem-quality synthetic diamonds," Gems & Gemology 20, 163-166.

25. 1985

Kirschvink, J.L., Jones, D.S., and McFadden, B.J. (eds.), Magnetite Biomineralization and Magnetoreception in Organisms: A New Biomagnetism Topics in Geobiology V. 5, Plenum Press, New York (30 chapters, 685 pp.).

26. 1985a

Chang, S-B.R., and Kirschvink, J.L., "Possible Biogenic Magnetite Fossils from the Miocene Marine Clay of Crete," in: Kirschvink, Jones, and McFadden (eds.), ibid, 647-669.

27. 1985b

Lowenstam, H.A., and Kirschvink, J.L., "Iron Biomineralization - A Geobiological Perspective," in Kirschvink, Jones, and McFadden (eds.), ibid, 3-15.

28. 1985c

Walker, M.M., Kirschvink, J.L., and Dizon, A.E., "Magnetoreception and Magnetite Biomineralization in Fish," in: Kirschvink, Jones and McFadden (eds.), ibid, 417-437.

29. 1985d

Kirschvink, J.L., and Walker, M.M., "Particle-Size Considerations for Magnetite-Based Magnetoreceptors," in: Kirschvink, Jones and McFadden (eds), ibid, 243-254.

30. 1985e

Walker, M.M., Kirschvink, J.L., Perry, A.S., and Dizon, A.E., "Methods and Techniques for the Detection, Extraction, and Characterization of Biogenic Magnetite," in: Kirschvink, Jones, and McFadden (eds.), ibid, 154-166.

31. 1985f 

Kirschvink, J.L., Peterson, K.A., Chwe, M.M., Filmer, P., and Roder, B., "An Attempt to Duplicate the Spinning Chair Experiment," in: Kirschvink, Jones, and McFadden (eds.), ibid, 605-608.

32. 1985g

Kirschvink, J.L., "A Cautionary Note About Magnetoreception in Dowsers," in: Kirschvink, Jones, and McFadden (eds.), ibid, 609-610.

33. 1985h

Kirschvink, J.L., Walker, M.M., Chang, S-B.R., Dizon, A.E., and Peterson, K.A., "Chains of single-domain magnetite particles in Chinook Salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha)," J. Comp. Physiol. 157, 375-381.

34. 1986a

Kovalik, J.M. and Kirschvink, J.L., " New SQUID-based constraints on the abundance of magnetic monopoles trapped in matter: an investigation of deeply-buried rocks ." Phys. Rev. A.33, 1183-1187.

35. 1986b

Kirschvink, J.L., Dizon, A.E., and Westphal, J.A., "Evidence from strandings for geomagnetic sensitivity in Cetaceans." J. Exptl. Biol. 120, 1-24.

36. 1986c

Magaritz, M., Holser, W.T., and Kirschvink, J.L., "Carbon-isotope events across the Precambrian-Cambrian boundary on the Siberian Platform," Nature 320, 258-259.

37. 1986d

Stolz, J.F., Chang, S-B.R., and Kirschvink, J.S., "Magnetotactic bacteria and single-domain magnetite in hemipelagic sediments". Nature 321, 849-851.

38. 1986e

Parrish, J.T., Ziegler, A.M., Scotese, C.R., Humphreville, R.G., and Kirschvink, J.L., "Early Cambrian Paleogeography, Paleoceanography, and Phosphorites," in: J.H. Shergold and P.J. Cook (eds.), Phosphate deposits of the World: Proterozoic and Cambrian Phosphorites, Cambridge University Press, 280-294.

39. 1986f

Walker M.M., Bitterman, M.E., and Kirschvink J.L., "Experimental and correlational studies of responses to magnetic field stimuli by different species," in: Maret, G., Boccara, N., and Kiepenheuer, J. (eds.), Biophysical Effects of Steady Magnetic Fields, Springer-Verlag (New York), 194-205.

40. 1986g

Kirschvink, J.L., and Walker, M.M., "Biogenic magnetite in higher organisms and the current status of the hypothesis of ferrimagnetic magnetoreception," in: Maret, G., Boccara, N., and Kiepenheuer, J. (eds.), Biophysical Effects of Steady Magnetic Fields, Springer-Verlag (New York), 180-188.

41. 1986h

Walker M.M., Kirschvink J.L., and Kobayashi-Kirschvink A. "A mathematical model for magnetic navigation," in: Maret, G., Boccara, N., and Kiepenheuer, J. (eds.), Biophysical Effects of Steady Magnetic Fields, Springer-Verlag (New York), 297-211.

42. 1986i

Kobayashi-Kirschvink, A.K. and Kirschvink, J.L., "Electrostatic enhancement of industrial drying processes," Ind. Engin. Chem. Proc. Design & Develop. 25, 1027-1030.

43. 1987a

Chang S-B.R., Allen C.R., and Kirschvink J.L., "Magnetic Stratigraphy and a test for block rotation of sedimentary rocks within the San Andreas Fault Zone, Mecca Hills, Southeastern California," Quaternary Res. 27, 30-40.

44. 1987b

Chang, S-B.R., Kirschvink, J.L., and Stolz, J.F., "Biogenic magnetite as a primary remanence carrier in limestone," Phys. Earth & Planetary Interiors 46: 289-303.

45. 1988a

McNeill D.F., Ginsburg R.N., Chang S-B.R., & Kirschvink J.L., "Magnetostratigraphic dating of shallow-water carbonates from San Salvador, the Bahamas. " Geology 16:8-12.

46. 1988b

Mann S., Sparks N.H.C., Walker M.M., & Kirschvink J.L., "Ultrastructure, morphology and organization of biogenic magnetite from sockeye salmon, Oncorhynchus nerka: Implications for magnetoreception." J. Exptl. Biology. 140:35-49.

47. 1988c

Walker M.M., Quinn T.P., Kirschvink J.L., & Groot T., "Production of single-domain magnetite throughout life by sockeye salmon, Oncorhynchus nerka." J. Exptl. Biol. 140: 51-63.

48. 1988d

Liu W., Kirschvink J.L. & Weldon R.E. "Paleomagnetism of sedimentary rocks from and near the DOSECC Cajon Pass well, Southern California. Geophysical Research Letters 15:1065-1068.

49. 1989a

Chang, S-B.R. & J.L. Kirschvink, " Magnetofossils, the magnetization of sediments, and the evolution of magnetite biomineralization ". Annual Reviews of Earth & Planetary Sciences 17: 169-195.

50. 1989b

Vali H. & Kirschvink J.L., " Magnetofossil Dissolution in a Paleomagnetically Unstable Deep-Sea Sediment ". Nature 339: 203-206.

51. 1989c

Filmer P.E. & Kirschvink, J.L. "A Paleomagnetic constraint on the late Cretaceous paleoposition of Northwestern Baja California, Mexico. J. Geophys. Res. 94:7332-7342.

52. 1989d

Stolz J.F., S-B.R. Chang, and J.L. Kirschvink. Biogenic magnetite in stromatolites. I. Occurrence in modern sedimentary environments. Precambrian Research 43: 295-304.

53. 1989e

S-B.R. Chang, Stolz J.F., J.L. Kirschvink, and S.M. Awramik. Biogenic magnetite in stromatolites. II. Occurrence in ancient sedimentary environments. Precambrian Research 43: 305-315.

54. 1989f

Kirschvink, J.L., "Magnetite biomineralization and geomagnetic sensitivity in higher animals: An update and recommendations for future study." Bioelectromagnetics 10: 239-259.

55. 1989g

Stolz J.F., Chang S-B.R., and Kirschvink J.L., "The effect of magnetotactic bacteria on the magnetic properties of marine sediments." In: Crick R.E. (ed.), Origin, evolution, and modern aspects of biomineralization in plants and animals. Plenum press, New York, p. 497-506.

56. 1990a

Aissaoui D.M., D.F. McNeill, and J.L. Kirschvink. Magnetostratigraphic dating of shallow-water carbonates from Mururoa atoll, French Polynesia: Implications for global eustasy . Earth & Planetary Science Letters 97: 102-112.

57. 1990b

Kirschvink J.L. Geomagnetic sensitivity in cetaceans: an update with the U.S. live stranding records. In: J.A. Thomas and R. Kastelein (eds)., Sensory Abilities of Cetaceans, Plenum Press, New York, pp. 639-649.