Office of Science Quality and Integrity

Scientist Emeritus Program

The Scientist Emeritus Program allows retired USGS scientists and technical experts to volunteer their expertise, intellect, and creativity in efforts that allow them to remain active in the scientific community, enhance the programmatic activities of the USGS, and serve the public. 

Who We Are

At over 450 strong, scientists in the Program stem from many disciplines and are scattered across the country.

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Dallas Peck Award

This award recognizes significant contributions made to the USGS mission by an individual while volunteering as a Scientist Emeritus.

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The Scientist Emeritus Program has been an important component of the USGS since its inception in 1986 as part of the USGS Volunteer for Science Program. It currently is coordinated in the USGS Office of Science Quality and Integrity. The purpose of the Scientist Emeritus Program is for retired USGS scientists and technical experts to volunteer their expertise, intellect, and creativity in efforts that allow them to remain active in the geoscience community, enhance the programmatic activities of the USGS, and serve the public. The Scientist Emeritus Program is open to all scientists and technical experts who have demonstrated leadership qualities and contributed to the goals of the USGS during a productive career. As long as the individual applying has been a scientist or technical expert, the series, grade or title will not prohibit that individual from being considered for the Scientist Emeritus Program. Those who don’t qualify for the Scientist Emeritus Program should consider becoming part of the USGS Volunteer for Science Program.

Scientists Emeriti can contribute to the USGS in many ways:

  • Continue scientific investigations and complete products
  • Start new areas of research that are of importance to the USGS and the Nation
  • Provide expertise in support of USGS projects and programs
  • Provide seasoned counsel to managers and individual scientists
  • Mentor current or new employees and students
  • Provide an institutional memory within the Federal Government
  • Contribute to professional societies
  • Serve on scientific advisory committees
  • Provide outreach to community groups about USGS activities and topics related to the scientist’s expertise

Honorary Scientist Emeritus - This category of Scientist Emeritus is reserved for scientists who have had long, distinguished careers with the USGS but who are now less involved in USGS science activities. Honorary Scientists Emeriti are assigned to an organizational unit based upon their geographic location and, if possible, receive limited resources, such as access to a phone, email, and the internet.

How to participate

The Scientist Emeritus Program is administered at the Science Center/Branch level. Retiring or retired USGS scientists or technical experts who are interested in becoming Scientists Emeriti should discuss their plans with their supervisor and get his/her approval (e.g. Science Center Director, Branch Chief).

All Scientists Emeriti must have a current Volunteer Services Agreement, OF301A, in place in accordance with the procedures and standards described in the USGS Manual Chapter on Volunteer Service and in the Volunteer for Science Program Handbook, 500-23-H

As a condition of appointment and continuation in the SE Program, participants must abide by the ethics rules in Chapter 3, Ethics, in the Volunteer for Science Handbook.  The Ethics Office may be contacted at

Work plans should be reviewed each year, and the Scientist Emeritus online and paper agreement form should be updated as needed to reflect changes in work plans. Each Scientist Emeritus should have only one agreement form.

New on-line form: The Volunteer agreement form is now on the USGS SharePoint site, current and new Scientists Emeriti must have an on-line agreement form on the new SharePoint site. If you are a current Scientist Emeritus, please have your Center complete the new on-line agreement,, for you.


The USGS routinely provides Scientists Emeriti with office space, a computer, and a telephone. Scientist Emeritus funding may come from different sources depending upon the work being completed by the Scientist Emeritus. Emeriti may receive support from their Science Center or on-going scientific projects or, if Scientist Emeritus activities are outside the Center/project level, from the Areas or Programs. It is possible that a Scientist Emeritus may receive funding from several sources, including the Bradley Scholar Program. Funding and other resource needs should be evaluated on a yearly basis.

Scientists Emeriti are encouraged to talk to project chiefs, Science Center Directors, Branch Chiefs, and Program Coordinators for continued funding of their work. Most successful funding tends to be through on-going scientific projects. Science Center Directors are encouraged to provide $2,000-$3,000 annually to scientifically active, otherwise unfunded, Scientists Emeriti at their Centers.


Laurel M Bybell

Scientist Emeritus
Office of Science Quality and Integrity
Phone: 703-648-5281