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Michelle L. Coombs, Ph.D.

Michelle Coombs is a Research Geologist with the U.S. Geological Survey Volcanic Science Center. Since 2016, she has served as Scientist-in-Charge of the Alaska Volcano Observatory. In this position, Dr. Coombs leads eruption responses, oversees expansion and modernization of volcano monitoring techniques, and guides applied and fundamental research on a host of problems related to volcanology.

Professional Experience

  • 2016–present: Scientist-in-Charge, Alaska Volcano Observatory, Volcano Science Center, U.S. Geological Survey, Anchorage, AK

  • 2004–2016: Research Geologist, Alaska Volcano Observatory

  • 2001–2004: Research Geologist, Volcano Hazards Team, U.S. Geological Survey, Menlo Park CA



  • Affiliate faculty, University of Alaska Fairbanks

  • CONVERSE Steering Committee member, 2020–present

  • Member of AGU student awards committee, 2011–2015

  • Associate Editor, Bulletin of Volcanology, 2013–2016

  • Editorial board, Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research, 2007–2018

  • Co-editor for 28-chapter USGS Professional Paper 1769, The 2006 eruption of Augustine Volcano, Alaska, 2010

  • Co-editor for Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research special issue on Growth and collapse of Hawaiian volcanoes, 2006

Education and Certifications

  • Williams College, BA Geology, 1994

  • University of Alaska Fairbanks, PhD Geology, 2001

Affiliations and Memberships

  • American Geophysical Union, 1996–present 

  • Geological Society of America, 2001–present (elected Fellow in 2015)

  • International Assoc. of Volcanology and Chemistry of the Earth’s Interior, 1999–present

Science and Products