Laura Fattaruso


I study how rocks break to help improve our understanding of earthquakes. I’m a PhD candidate in the Geosciences Department at UMass Amherst, working in the Geomechanics Research Group with Dr. Michele Cooke. In my research, I create computer simulations of rocks breaking, benchmarked against lab experiments in which small pieces of rock are deformed and measured during the fracture growth process. My recent projects focus on the linking of smaller cracks to form bigger fractures. I have also worked on crustal-scale models of the San Andreas fault, a geologic map of a quadrangle of Venus, and assorted work collecting and processing rock samples for paleomagnetic analysis. I am planning to defend my dissertation in early 2023.


I’m passionate about sharing science. Starting in 2018, I began producing and hosting a podcast, Lab Talk with Laura, featuring interviews with scientists across disciplines and career stages with the help of local comics. I was a 2019 American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Mass Media Fellow, doing science reporting at King 5 News in Seattle, WA. I also do freelance writing for Temblor Earthquake News and currently serve as the 2022-2023 Science Communication Fellow for the Geological Society of America.


Check out the work of the UMass Geomechanics Research Group.

My master’s work focused on the geometry of the San Andreas fault in California. Here I am demonstrating the dip of the fault in the Coachella Valley.

My conference presentations and journal publications are listed here.

Lab Talk with Laura

You can listen to 30+ episodes of interviews with scientists across a wide range of disciplines along with comedian co-hosts. Available in iTunes, Spotify, and most other podcast apps, or stream directly from Soundcloud.

Science Writing

Here are lists of my public-facing science writing at King 5 News and Temblor. Also check out updates about my adventures in geology and science communication on my blog.

Laura Fattaruso, MS
PhD Candidate – UMass Amherst Geosciences

Twitter: @labtalk_laura