Portrait image of Dr. Iris van Zelst

Dr. Iris van Zelst

German Aerospace Center Berlin (DLR)


Iris is a postdoctoral researcher at the German Aerospace Center (DLR) and the Centre of Astronomy and Astrophysics at TU Berlin in Berlin, Germany. She is leading the international ISSI team on 'Seismicity on Venus: Prediction & Detection'. Iris obtained her PhD in geodynamics and seismology from ETH Zürich (Switzerland) in 2020, and has a MSc and BSc in Geophysics and Earth Sciences, respectively, from Utrecht University (The Netherlands). 

Iris is an interdisciplinary geophysicist, focusing predominantly on the geodynamics and seismology of the Earth and terrestrial planets. She is particularly interested in subduction zone dynamics and the evolution and tectonics of Venus. Her tools of trade are numerical models, particularly geodynamic and dynamic rupture models. Currently, she is also branching out to atmospheric studies by using atmospheric models of the early Earth steam atmosphere to further our understanding of the early evolution of the Earth and Earth-like exoplanets. By studying the planets holistically from multiple geophysical and geological angles, she believes we stand the best chance of unravelling their mysteries!

Iris is also an advocate for diversity and inclusion in the planetary and geosciences, and has written and spoken extensively on these topics. In 2021, she won the AGU Sharing Science Grant for her YouTube series 'Science Sisters', where she interviews a set of diverse guests to explore different career paths and addresses current issues in academia, particularly concerning equality, diversity, and inclusion.

In addition to her research and advocacy work, Iris is an avid science communicator. She was the Editor-in-Chief of the EGU Geodynamics blog from 2017–2023 and she makes YouTube videos on life as a researcher in the Earth and planetary sciences. Additionally, she won the 2021 EGU Public Engagement Grant to develop the educational card game QUARTETnary on the geological time scale of the Earth.