Connecting Waterpeople

David Applegate sworn in as Director of the U.S. Geological Survey

  • David Applegate sworn in as Director of the U.S. Geological Survey
    Dr. David Applegate is sworn in by Interior Secretary Deb Haaland as USGS director. Credit: UGSG

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We provide science about the natural hazards that threaten lives and livelihoods; the water, energy, minerals, and other natural resources we rely on; the health of our ecosystems and environment; and the impacts of climate and land-use change.
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David Applegate was sworn in as Director of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) by Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland. David has been serving as USGS’s Associate Director for Natural Hazards, exercising the delegated authority of the Director since January 20, 2021.

“As people, wildlife and ecosystems face the impacts of the climate crisis, David’s long and impressive tenure will continue to be essential to ensuring that the Department continues to be an international leader in developing the climate science needed to understand the Earth’s past, present and future climate. With science at the heart of Interior’s mission, David will also play a key role in helping us to strengthen and reinforce the scientific integrity of the Department’s work,” said Secretary Haaland.

“I am deeply honored to have been nominated by President Biden and confirmed by the U.S. Senate to lead the USGS and carry out our critical mission,” said Director Applegate. “Now more than ever — as changes in the natural world, along with growing human demands, put health and safety, national security, and economies at risk — science from USGS will play an indispensable role in the well-being of our nation and planet Earth.”

David joined the USGS in 2004 as the first Senior Science Advisor for Earthquake and Geologic Hazards. As the Associate Director for Natural Hazards, he led USGS emergency response activities and oversaw the Coastal and Marine Hazards and Resources, Earthquake Hazards, Global Seismographic Network, Geomagnetism, Landslide Hazards, and Volcano Hazards Programs. He also co-chaired the interagency Science for Disaster Reduction working group.

Prior to that, David spent eight years with the American Geosciences Institute (AGI) federation of geoscience societies, where he directed science policy and served as the editor of Geotimes, AGI’s news magazine for the earth sciences. David also served the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources as the American Geophysical Union's Congressional Science Fellow and as a professional staff member. He has taught at the Johns Hopkins University and as an adjunct professor at the University of Utah. He holds a B.S. in geology from Yale University and a Ph.D., also in geology, from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Born and raised in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, he currently resides in Washington, DC with his wife and two daughters.

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