Pierre Glynn, Ph.D.


Pierre Glynn heads the Water Cycle Branch in the Water Mission Area at the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). The scientists in his Branch conduct research to advance the qualitative and quantitative understanding of the water cycle, its dynamics, and its interactions with societal needs, including water-cycle dependencies and interactions with other natural resources (e.g. energy).

Beyond his Branch responsibilities, Pierre also serves as the Water Mission Area representative to the USGS Science and Decisions Center. The Center seeks to maximize the usefulness of science to policies and decisions relating to the management of natural resources and environments, and to the mitigation of natural hazards and catastrophes. Pierre’s current research interests include studies on (1) the role of human biases, beliefs, heuristics and values in the conduct of science, (2) public participation in science, (3) integrated modeling and the study of complex systems. His earlier research efforts focused on geochemical modeling, groundwater contamination, nuclear waste disposal, and groundwater dating. 

His academic background includes a B.A. (with a major in Geological Sciences) from Columbia College and Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory, an M.Sc. from University of Quebec in Montreal in isotopic environmental geochemistry and the cycling of atmospheric 14CO2, and a Ph.D. from the University of Waterloo, where his studies focused on groundwater studies and the thermodynamics of water-rock interactions.


Professional Assignments:

March 2005 – Present: Chief, National Research Program, Eastern Branch.  Developed (and currently Co-Chair of) the USGS Strategic Laboratory Committee, assessing USGS laboratory practices, needs and capabilities. Water Resources Mission Area representative to USGS Science and Decisions Center: advancing assessments of (1) the benefits of geospatial data, (2) ecosystem services, (3) multi-resource analyses, and (4) integrated participatory modeling. Responsible for management of Eastern Branch of the National Research Program (NRP) in Hydrology. Help set science directions, budgets, and priorities for the NRP ($40 Million). Established science directions and teams for initiatives, such as: unconventional oil and gas impacts; 3D modeling; environmental issues in the lower Mississippi, Upper Klamath lake, and Colorado plateau; WEBB (Water, Energy, & Biogeochemical Budgets) watershed research program. Acting Chief Scientist for Hydrology on the USGS Regional Executive/Chief Scientist team (2008- 2009). 

April 2016 – December 2015: Acting Associate Director for Energy and Minerals, and for Environmental Health Mission Areas.  Led the two Mission Areas, and oversaw their cost-effective split. Presented FY17 President’s Budget, and led briefing of Congressional Staffers on consequent impacts. Developed FY18 initiatives and USGS goals and strategies (with other Associate Directors). Analyzed options for supervision and hosting of the USGS Science and Decisions Center. Spurred and advised USGS research on geologic carbon sequestration and emissions. Advised USGS science on assessments of wind energy and impacts. Oversaw, advised, and provided briefings on sensitive issues (e.g. Mineral Resource assessments in Western Lands and in Alaska, TRIGA nuclear reactor, USGS response capabilities to Zika virus, safety protocols for high-containment laboratories).

June – Sept. 2004: Acting Chief Scientist for Hydrology.  Chief Scientist responsibilities included: participating on the 2nd level 2004 Research Grade Evaluation panel; preparing (and being accountable for) the 2005 National Research Program (NRP) budget; co-leading the 2005 NRP In-depth Project Review and Budget Meeting; numerous interactions with other federal agencies and with the Department of Interior. 

Nov. 2001 – Feb. 2005: Staff Assistant to Chief Scientist for Hydrology.  Responsible for the Research Grade Evaluation peer-review process in the Water Discipline.  Led the USGS National Research Council post-doctoral fellowship program for the entire USGS, establishing science directions and finding funds and opportunities.  Program Coordinator in charge of leading the WEBB small watershed program.  Water Discipline representative on the USGS Climate Change working group.  Helped manage the National Research Program in the Water Discipline.  Responsible for assembling science teams in USGS priority areas, and for guiding USGS Water Discipline collaborations with universities. 

Jan. 1989 - Nov. 2001:  Research Hydrologist, National Research Program.  Research interests:  Modeling of radionuclide transport and performance assessments for Nuclear Waste Disposal sites (INEEL and Sweden); unsaturated-zone and ground-water geochemical investigations and modeling at Pinal Creek Toxics site, AZ and Äspö Hard-Rock Lab, Sweden; 14C dating of perched waters at Yucca Mountain.  Expert in thermodynamics of mineral/impurity/water interactions, in geochemical modeling and in ground-water geochemistry and contaminant transport.

Jan. 1987 – Jan. 1989:  National Academy of Sciences Research Associate at the U.S. Geological Survey. Competitively awarded National Research Council Postdoctoral Fellowship, National Academy of Sciences. Conducted research on the thermodynamics of mineral/water interactions: created models and predictions of how impurities affect mineral solubilities and how they are released or taken up by minerals. My research has been applied in many different fields, including nuclear waste disposal, contaminant transport, and the chemical evolution of natural waters.  


1982–1986                          University of Waterloo             Ontario, Canada

Ph.D.   Earth Sciences.  Ground-water hydrology and chemistry. Thesis: Thermodynamic behaviour of solid-solution aqueous-solution systems: a theoretical and experimental investigation (Thesis Advisor: Eric Reardon).

1980–1982                          University of Quebec                      Montreal, Canada

M.Sc.  Earth Sciences.  Isotope geochemistry and 14C dating. Thesis: On the ground transfer of atmospheric 14CO2 as a function of latitude (46oN-76oN) and season in Quebec and Baffin Island. (Thesis Advisor: Claude Hillaire-Marcel).

1977–1980                          Columbia University                       New York, New York

B.A.  Major in Earth Sciences. (Advisors: Wally Broecker and Rhodes Fairbridge)