Three side-by-side images show (left to right) a wildfire in a forest, roadside flooding into a sinkhole, and the Big Sur coastline in California. The three images fade from one into the next.
Credit: USGS, Public Domain

On 8 March, the Biden administration announced that it will nominate natural hazards researcher David Applegate for director of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). Applegate, currently associate director for natural hazards for USGS, has been exercising the delegated authority of the director during the first year of Biden’s presidency.

A headshot of a middle-aged white man from the shoulders up in front of a white background. The man, David Applegate, wears a blue stripped shirt, a red bow tie, and thin-framed glasses. Applegate has light brown hair, a short brown-gray beard, and light colored eyes.
David Applegate, above, will lead the U.S. Geological Survey. Credit: USGS, Public Domain

“For nearly two decades, David has helped advance the federal government’s scientific understanding of climate change and America’s geological features,” Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland said in a statement about the nomination. (The USGS is a bureau within the Department of the Interior.) “As the confirmed Director, I am confident he will continue to empower the agency’s scientific and technical experts to use the best available science to help address the most pressing challenges of our time.”

Applegate, who is also an adjunct professor of geology and geophysics at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, joined the USGS in 2004. He leads the bureau’s geologic hazards response programs, including those that monitor and respond to landslides, earthquakes, and volcanoes. He also oversees the Coastal and Marine Geology Program, which is key to understanding sea level rise and other impacts of climate change.

Applegate did not respond to multiple requests for comment but said in a 2011 interview with Carleton College, “The government workers who are my colleagues have tremendous drive and dedication. We see it as an honor to be working in our capacity. Our scientists are very dedicated and are there to serve their fellow citizens of the world.”

Applegate would succeed James Reilly, who served as USGS director from 2018 to 2021. As of publication, the date of Applegate’s senate confirmation hearing has not been announced.

—Kimberly M. S. Cartier (@AstroKimCartier), Staff Writer

Correction 15 March 2022: This article has been updated to state that Applegate is an adjunct professor at the University of Utah.

Citation: Cartier, K. M. S. (2022), Hazards scientist David Applegate nominated for USGS director, Eos, 103, Published on 14 March 2022.
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