USGS Names New Director of St. Petersburg Coastal and Marine Science Center

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Cheryl J. Hapke begins work this week as the Director of the U.S. Geological Survey’s St. Petersburg Coastal and Marine Science Center.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Cheryl J. Hapke begins work this week as the Director of the U.S. Geological Survey’s St. Petersburg Coastal and Marine Science Center.  Located in St. Petersburg, Florida, the center is one of three USGS Coastal and Marine Geology science centers nationwide, and is focused on investigations to understand processes related to changes within coastal and marine environments that have high societal impact. Research programs include those that examine natural hazards, resource sustainability and environmental change.

Hapke received her Ph.D. in coastal geology from the University of California Santa Cruz, an M.S. in geology from the University of Maryland, and a B.S. in Geology from the University of Pittsburgh. She is a research geologist with expertise in coastal-erosion hazards within a variety of geomorphic environments, including rocky coasts, barrier islands and carbonate systems. Her career with the USGS has spanned 18-years and four science centers across the U.S.

“Cheryl’s career path of working at all three USGS Coastal and Marine Geology Program science centers, as well as with the USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, gives her a unique and broad perspective of both USGS and the Coastal and Marine Geology Program goals, objectives, and roles within their respective regions,” said Jess Weaver, USGS Southeast Regional Director. “Her vision is one of unity and integration—from the community level in St. Petersburg to enhanced collaboration and resource-sharing across the multidiscipline science centers in the Southeast Region.”

Hapke’s first priority as the new director is to increase the local visibility of the center in the City of St. Petersburg, as well as throughout the State of Florida and the Southeast.

“Our coastal and marine program is uniquely suited, and we are well-poised, to address critical scientific gaps in our knowledge of physical and ecological coastal hazards associated with storms, sea-level rise and climate change,” she said.

Her USGS career began at the Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center in Santa Cruz, California, in 1997, where she studied coastal cliff erosion hazards and coastal landslide processes.

In 2005, Hapke moved to the East Coast, where she collaborated with the National Park Service, first through the USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center from an office at the University of Rhode Island, and then through the USGS Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center in Woods Hole, Massachusetts. Her research focused on beach and bluff erosion hazards on various U.S. shores, including Fire Island, New York.

In 2011, Hapke transferred to the St. Petersburg Coastal and Marine Science Center, and in October 2012, Hurricane Sandy hit the U.S. east coast. Hapke’s research on Sandy’s impacts on Fire Island has contributed significantly to the broad understanding of how barrier islands respond to and recover from major storms. In the months after Sandy, Hapke served a 3-month detail to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, where she provided expertise in coastal science to numerous federal and New York State agencies as part of the National Disaster Recovery Framework.

Hapke takes over from Dick Poore, who retired in March 2015.