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Laurel M. Bybell

Scientist Emeritus 2008-present in Office of Science Quality and Integrity

Editor-in Chief for the Journal of Nannoplankton Research, Liaison for the USGS Scientist Emeritus Program, revising and improving the USGS Scientist Emeritus website, serving on several USGS committees, and have recently designed and implemented the permanent "Trek through Time" exhibit at the USGS Reston.

Recent Accomplishments

In May 2020, installation was completed for the USGS "Trek through Time," a walk along the paths of the USGS in Reston from the beginning of the Cambrian to Recent.  After I developed and constructed several temporary "treks" for USGS Open Houses, OSQI has paid for a permanent exhibit.  The 1/3 mile trek has year markers for every 10 million years and large signs at the beginning of each epoch and era that contain a diorama of plant and animal life at that time, a paleogeographic map of the world with the position of Virginia indicated, and a brief description of the geography, climate, plants, animals, catastrophic events, and what Virginia was like at the time. 

In 2019, I became the Editor-in Chief of the Journal of Nannoplankton Research.


1974-1976 – George Washington University – coursework towards PhD in Geology

1975 – University of Miami – M.S. in Marine Geology

1967 – Vassar College – B.A. cum laude – Major – Geology; Minor – Russian

Scientific Studies/Experience

  • Associ

ate Program Coordinator for National Cooperative Geologic Mapping Program, 2004-2008

  • During my career at the USGS from 1975 to my retirement in 2008, I worked as a micropaleontologist specializing on Cenozoic calcareous nannofossils, particularly along the Gulf and Atlantic Coastal Plains. I was a participant and sometime project chief for many USGS investigations over the years that resulted in numerous publications.
  • My work on the P/E boundary and the Late Paleocene Thermal Maximum event established me as a scientific leader within the international geoscience community.  I was invited to and attended and presented significant information at the international meetings concerning this event.  I have collaborated with some of the most prestigious scientists studying this global event.
  • Based on a transect of coreholes from inland New Jersey to deeper waters at the New Jersey shore margin and then offshore to DSDP Site 605, in 1997, I published new data on biogeographical variations in the distribution of Paleocene and Eocene nannofossils. Nannofossils, which documented the significant differences in sediments preserved at the three locations, help interpret the geologic processes at work.  Our “passive continental margin” has been anything but passive.  Complex sedimentary, erosional, and tectonic forces were constantly operating to produce a complex mosaic of sediments in this region.
  • Several species in the calcareous nannofossil genera Tribrachiatus and Rhomboaster at different times have been seriously considered for use as the official marker for the Paleocene-Eocene boundary.  Based on detailed examination over 15 years, I was able to clarify the ranges for species within these genera, which averted the placement of the boundary at some completely inappropriate horizons.
  • In 1995, after several years of intensive stud