About Dr. Lucy Jones
As one of the world’s most recognizable seismologists, Dr. Lucy Jones has a unique talent for making even the most complicated of scientific concepts accessible to all audiences. In her 33 years as a seismologist for the U.S. Geological Survey, she was often deployed after earthquakes to comfort, counsel, and inform a rattled public. Through her decades of research and public advocacy for risk reduction, she has dramatically changed the way Californians prepare for and react to disasters.
Much of Dr. Jones’s work stems from this question: “What good is scientific knowledge if people don’t use it?” When she joined the California Seismic Safety Commission in 2002, she realized that crucial infrastructure decision-makers were ignoring the realities of potential earthquake damages. She also found herself explaining scientific facts over and over again to the same officials. From then on, she made it her mission to translate complex disaster science into clear scenarios and actionable steps for both the public and officials.
To that end, Dr. Jones published the ShakeOut report, a 308-page study on the ramifications a massive earthquake on the San Andreas Fault would have for Southern California, from months without water to pipeline explosions. The report convinced policymakers to invest in earthquake-resilient infrastructure across the state. She also created the first American major earthquake drill, the Great ShakeOut, which by 2016 had expanded to over 53 million participants across the world.
In 2016, Dr. Jones retired from her position at the U.S. Geological Survey in order to work with government officials to create science-based policies for disaster preparedness. She founded the Dr. Lucy Jones Center for Science and Society, whose mission is to foster the understanding and application of scientific information to create more resilient communities. As a speaker, she explains the best ways to communicate scientific ideas to media and policymakers but also addresses women in science and earthquake preparedness with her trademark storytelling skills. Her book, The Big Ones, is a riveting history of natural disasters and their impact on our culture, which also offers new ways of thinking about the ones to come.
As one of the most prominent public voices for earthquake resilience, Dr. Jones has appeared on most major news programs, as well as NPR, PBS, and numerous television specials about earthquakes and disasters. Dr. Jones has a Bachelor of Arts in Chinese Language and Literature from Brown University and a Ph.D. in Geophysics from MIT. Dr. Jones’s scientific achievements have been recognized with the Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medal, the Ambassador Award from the American Geophysical Union, the William Rodgers Distinguished Alumni Award from Brown University, the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Western States Seismic Policy Council, and the 2017 Distinguished Lecture Award of the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute. In addition to her scientific career, she is also a talented viol player. She lives in Southern California, and is currently on the faculty of the California Institute of Technology.