Human Capital

Recipient of the 2007 Excellence In Leadership Award

Dr. Brian F. Atwater

In recognition of your outstanding acts, services, and achievements that exemplify and support the USGS goals throughout the bureau.

The award will be presented at U.S. Geological Survey's Honor Awards Ceremony on September 27, 2007, in Reston, Virginia.

Excellence in Leadership Award


Dr. Brian F. Atwater
Research Geologist
Western Region Geology

Dr. Brian Atwater has demonstrated unparalleled leadership with his contributions to the development of the Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning System (IOTWS) and related tsunami hazard assessment activities. The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has been actively involved in the development of this warning system since September 2005, and Dr. Atwater has been an integral part of this effort.

During the past two years, Dr. Atwater has engaged colleagues in the Indian Ocean region in numerous training sessions on the topic of paleotsunamis. He has arranged field crews to document evidence of tsunamis in Indonesia and Thailand and he has taken scientists from those countries to Chile to examine evidence of past tsunami events. This training has served as capacity-building exercises that will greatly improve the abilities of the Indian Ocean nations to understand their risk from such events. Dr. Atwater has received high marks from course participants who have learned from their experiences with him, as well as from IOTWS program directors, which have provided the funding to do this work, and are very pleased with what he has delivered.

Dr. Atwater exemplifies many of the criteria needed for this award as described in the USGS Guiding Principles. He demonstrates effective interpersonal skills that respond to the needs, feelings, and capabilities of different people in different situations (especially noteworthy with participants in his workshops from many different countries), and he communicates effectively both orally and in writing. Through his work with the scientists of the Indian Ocean region, he has developed many new cooperative working relationships and has encouraged and facilitated cooperation within team environments.

Dr. Atwater’s work to discover previously unknown tsunami recurrence intervals in regions of Indonesia and Thailand demonstrate his commitment to continual learning and his ability to master new technical knowledge. As such, he has displayed great problem solving skills, identifying and analyzing problems to make logical decisions in anticipation of their impact and implications. His technical competence to appropriately interpret the requirements, regulations and policies related to his areas of expertise is beyond question. He also demonstrates political savvy, an ability to identify the internal and external politics that impact the USGS and an ability to formulate appropriate approaches to each problem situation he encounters.

During his very time-consuming work in the Indian Ocean region, Dr. Atwater has also managed to be elected to the National Academy of Sciences, a true honor. In short, he is exactly the type of USGS employee for whom this award was intended. His dedication, hard work, and leadership abilities have greatly improved the capacities of scientists in the Indian Ocean region, and he has brought the USGS to even greater international stature. Dr. Brian Atwater, therefore, greatly deserves consideration for the USGS Excellence in Leadership Award.

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Sandy Bruner

Leadership Development Program Manager
Office of Employee Development
Phone: 703-648-5764

Kim Miller

Leadership Intensive/Mentoring Programs Manager
Office of Employee Development
Phone: 304-743-5429