GSA Connects 2021 in Portland, Oregon

Paper No. 201-1
Presentation Time: 8:10 AM


APPLEGATE, David, US Geological Survey, 12201 Sunrise Valley Drive MS 111, Reston, VA 20192

Geoscientists work on temporal and spatial scales that often seem far removed from daily life. Yet the processes and phenomena we study directly affect quality of life, such as availability of resources, environmental habitability, or natural hazards and public safety. The geosciences can contribute greatly to highly consequential societal decision making, but applying such contributions is challenging. A concerted effort is required to bridge the gap between those generating the science and those who put it to work. This in turn requires a commitment by geoscientists to engage in “participatory research,” where we actively collaborate with a full range of partners in the design, execution, and delivery of our science.

For example, geoscience-based analyses of natural hazards can be coupled with analysis of human exposures and impacts on the built environment, so that the resulting information is conveyed in terms of issues that matter to people. This can be done within the framework of probabilistic assessments as well as through co-developed scenarios that explore the full range of societal consequences from a specific event. Either approach requires close partnering across disciplines: engineering, planning, emergency and land management, and especially social science. And it requires engagement with the end users.

As a mission science agency, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has a responsibility to ensure that the research and data collection we undertake and the resulting information that we deliver are useful as a public good for all. It is not enough to provide the science to decision makers who have sufficient technical capacity to make effective use of this information. We need to be doing more to ensure that the science can be used by those who need it the most. This recognition is reflected in recent executive orders on advancing racial equity (E.O. 13985) and tackling the climate crisis (E.O. 14008), both of which call for an increased focus on underserved communities. To address this challenge, the USGS has set a goal to enrich the value of our science through increased participatory research with our partners, provision of our science to underserved communities, and Tribal engagement.