Paul G. Richards is an English-born, American seismologist who has made fundamental contributions to the theory of seismic wave link propagation and in methods to understand how the recorded shapes of seismic waves are affected by processes of diffraction, attenuation and scattering. He is the Mellon Professor of the Natural Sciences at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University.
He was born in England and attended Cambridge University where he earned his Bachelor of Arts in Mathematics in 1965 and Caltech where he earned his Masters of Science in Geology in 1966 and his Doctorate of Philosophy in Geophysics in 1970. His thesis title was, "A contribution to the theory of high frequency elastic waves, with applications to the shadow boundary of the Earth's core."
From 1979 to 1996, Richards was Professor of Geological Sciences, Columbia University and from 1996 to present, he is Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Columbia University. Since 1997, he has been the Mellon Professor of the Natural Sciences, Columbia University. He has taken a number of academic leaves, including years in Washington working on nuclear arms control in the U.S. Department of State, and four sabbaticals taken in New Zealand, at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Los Alamos National Laboratory, and as a Phi Beta Kappa lecturer.