Sarah E Ogburn, PhD (she/her/hers)


I am a Research Geologist for the USGS/USAID Volcano Disaster Assistance Program (VDAP), which helps respond to volcanic crises around the world. My main role is to develop, populate, query, and analyze databases of volcanic eruption information for eruption forecasting. During crisis responses, I help facilitate and participate in event tree exercises, perform global database analysis, and assess and model mass flow hazards. I am also heavily involved in international capacity building and knowledge exchange workshops, including event tree workshops, expert elicitation exercises, pyroclastic flow and lahar modeling training courses, and hazard map workshops. My other research interests also include pyroclastic flow dynamics (including ash-cloud surge detachment), geophysical flow modeling, and dome-forming eruptions.

Before joining the USGS, I received an M.S. and Ph.D. in Geology from the University of Buffalo with Dr. Eliza Calder and a dual B.S. in Earth and Ocean Science and Biological Anthropology and Anatomy from Duke University. I am originally from Louisville, Kentucky. 

Research Interests and Projects

  • VDAP eruption chronology database development

  • Probabilistic event trees for eruption forecasting

  • IAVCEI Commission on Volcanic Hazards and Risk Volcanic Hazard Maps Database

  • Center for the Study of Active Volcanoes (CSAV) International Training Course

  • Pyroclastic flow dynamics, mobility, and modeling (including the FlowDat database of mass flows)

  • Dome-forming eruptions (including the DomeHaz database of dome-forming eruptions)


  • 2015-present: Research Geologist, USGS/USAID Volcano Disaster Assistance Program, Cascades Volcano Observatory, Vancouver, Washington
  • 2012: Environmental Geoscience 101 Lecturer, State University of New York at Buffalo, Buffalo, New York
  • 2009-2012: Research Assistant for the Focused Research Group in Prediction and Risk of Extreme Events, State University of New York at Buffalo, Buffalo, New York
  • 2006-2013: Teaching Assistant, State University of New York at Buffalo, Buffalo, New York
  • 2009: IGERT International Experience Fellow, British Geological Survey, Edinburgh, Scotland
  • 2006-2008: Research Assistant for Dr. Eliza Calder, State University of New York at Buffalo, Buffalo, New York
  • 2005-2006: Geology Lab Assistant, Duke University Earth and Ocean Sciences Department, Durham, North Carolina
  • 2005: Dissection Lab Assistant, Duke University Biological Anthropology Department, Durham, North Carolina


PhD: Geology (February 2015)

State University of New York at Buffalo, Buffalo, New York

Advisor: Dr. Eliza Calder

IGERT Fellowship in GI Science

Dissertation:  Reconciling field observations of pyroclastic density currents with conceptual and computational analogs using a GIS and a newly developed global database


M.S. Geology (June 2008)

State University of New York at Buffalo, Buffalo, New York.

Advisor: Dr. Eliza Calder

Thesis: Potential hazards at Soufrière Hills Volcano, Montserrat: northwards-directed dome-collapses and major explosive eruptions


B.S. Earth and Ocean Sciences (December 2005)

B.A. Biological Anthropology and Anatomy (December 2005)

Magna cum laude

Duke University, Durham, North Carolina.


  • STAR (Special Thanks for Achieving Results) Award (2019) 
  • College of Arts and Sciences Dissertation Fellowship, SUNY at Buffalo (2013) 
  • Great Lakes National STEM Scholarship (2013) 
  • Pegrum Outstanding Graduate Research Award, SUNY at Buffalo (2013) 
  • Center for Geohazards Studies Student Research Grant (2011) 
  • IGERT GI Science Fellowship, SUNY at Buffalo (2008-present) 
  • Presidential Scholarship, SUNY at Buffalo (2008-2012) 
  • Pegrum Scholarship, SUNY at Buffalo (2006) 
  • Graduated magna cum laude, Duke University (2005) 
  • Estwing Award for Excellence in Field Work (2005) 
  • Phi Beta Kappa (2004)