Virginia Burkett, Ph.D.



Dr. Burkett is the Associate Director for Climate and Land Use Change (CLU). In this role, she provides executive level oversight for several programs, including the Land Change Science Program, Land Remote Sensing Program, National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center, Climate Research and Development Program, Carbon Sequestration assessments, and the Earth Resources Observation and Science Center.

Career History and Highlights

Dr. Burkett previously served as Chief Scientist for the USGS Climate and Land Use Change Mission Area. She was the co-chair of the Strategic Science Planning Team that developed the 10-year science strategy for the Mission Area. Dr. Burkett was formerly Chief of the Wetlands Ecology Branch at the USGS National Wetlands Research Center in Lafayette, Louisiana, and subsequently the Associate Regional Chief Biologist for the USGS Central Region. Earlier in her early career at the state level, she served as Deputy Director of the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF). Dr. Burkett later served as Secretary/Director of LDWF. She also directed the Louisiana Coastal Zone Management Program and served as Assistant Director of the Louisiana Geological Survey.

Dr. Burkett has published extensively on the topics of climate change, sea level rise, and low-lying coastal zones. She was a Lead Author of the United Nation's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Third, Fourth, and Fifth Assessment Reports (2001, 2007, and 2014) and the IPCC Technical Paper on Water (2008), and of several U.S. National Assessments of climate change impacts produced by the U.S. Global Change Research Program. Additionally, Dr. Burkett has published numerous journal articles, books, and reports that address climate change impacts and potential adaptation strategies. She is a Senior Editor of the journal Regional Environmental Change and serves on the Editorial Board of the journal Ethics in Science and Environmental Politics. She has been appointed to over 60 Commissions, Committees, Science Panels and Boards during her career.


Dr. Burkett has a doctoral degree in forestry from Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, Texas.