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Alice B. Kelly Pennaz

Alice is the Risk Team Lead in the USGS Natural Hazards Mission Area.  Using her social science expertise, Alice works on a variety of efforts related to risk research and applications, as well as integrating science into emergency response. 


Alice joined the USGS Natural Hazards Mission Area (NHMA) in 2016. A human geographer, she is interested in the complex relationships between people and the environments in which they live and work. Alice approaches advancing risk research and applications in four ways:

Structuring, amplifying, and encouraging: Through her leadership of the Risk Project, Alice works to advance and structure risk-related engagement, research, and application development at USGS. 

Understanding user needs: As project co-lead for the Department of the Interior’s Strategic Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment Project (SHIRA), Alice works with DOI and Tribal emergency managers, facilities and resource managers, and law enforcement to better understand what information is needed to make informed planning decisions. Understanding the “what, when, and how” of information delivery can not only improve hazard preparedness, it can also improve how USGS develops and delivers its science in the future.

Connecting key players: Alice serves as the USGS representative to the National Science and Technology Council’s Subcommittee for Resilience Science and Technology (SRST). She is also a member of the Science for Disaster Reduction Working Group (SDR) and International Disaster Risk Reduction Working Group (IDRR). These groups bring together civilian and defense agencies that develop and apply science and technology to reduce the impacts of natural and technological hazard events. Through the SDR, Alice has worked with interagency partners to develop reports on how science can be better utilized through disaster response, and how equity can be better integrated into science related to disaster risk reduction. 

Understanding the consequences of hazards: Alice co-leads U.S. reporting to the United Nations Sendai Framework Monitor on disaster losses. She works with subject matter experts to better understand how the U.S. might improve upon its disaster loss reporting in the future, especially in the realm of green and blue infrastructure.  

Understanding the constraints, pressures, and concerns of those on the frontlines of emergency response has helped shape Alice’s approach to leading the Risk Project. Alice’s approach to leading the Risk Project at USGS is informed by her extensive work with the USGS Emergency Management Team, and a detail with the Office of Emergency Management at DOI. It is also informed by her experiences working with decision-makers and subject matter experts as a co-lead of the DOI Strategic Sciences Group. Her work with Visitor and Resource Protection in the National Park Service’s Pacific West Region as a National Science Foundation Science, Education, and Engineering for Sustainability Postdoctoral scholar has also been an influence.