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Jeff Williams Retires from USGS Center in Woods Hole, Massachusetts

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Jeff Williams
Above: Jeff Williams holds the National Park Service Regional Director's Resource Award presented to him in January at a luncheon to celebrate his retirement from the USGS. [larger version]

On January 17, 2010, approximately 50 family members and colleagues gathered for a luncheon at the Coonamessett Inn in Falmouth, Massachusetts, to help U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) scientist Jeff Williams make the transition to "retirement" (he continues to contribute to USGS coastal research). At the head table were his partner Rebecca Upton; his brother and sister-in-law, Buck and Carole Williams; Bill Schwab and Walter Barnhardt, past and current directors of the USGS Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center; Jack Kindinger, director of the USGS St. Petersburg Coastal and Marine Science Center (Florida); and Mary Foley, the National Park Service's Senior Scientist for the Northeast Region.

After more than 42 years of research and management in coastal and marine science, Williams decided to move to a new phase that will still involve coastal science but will also allow time for travel, spending time with his son's family in Hawai‘i, and doing some writing about the effects of climate change on coasts. Williams was granted a scientist emeritus position with the USGS and is an affiliate graduate facility member with the coastal geology group in the Geology and Geophysics Department at the University of Hawai‘i, Manoa.

At the retirement event, Mary Foley presented Williams the National Park Service Regional Director's Resource Award, given annually to reward career excellence for science benefiting the national parks. The award included a certificate and a beautiful handmade green glass bowl on a wooden base with inscription.

S. Jeffress Williams served until 2010 as a senior research coastal marine geologist with the USGS at the Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center and focused his career on studying the geologic history and processes of coastal, estuarine, wetland, and inner-continental-shelf regions. He has 40 years of research experience investigating such topics as the geologic origins and development of marine coastal and estuarine systems, as well as Great Lakes coastal systems, Holocene to modern sea-level history, climate-change effects on coasts, and the geologic origins of modern marine sand bodies and their importance to coastal sediment budgets. Williams has participated in more than 80 field studies along the Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico, Pacific, and Great Lakes coasts and the United Kingdom's Irish Sea. In June, Williams was awarded the 2009 Coastal Zone Foundation Award for Career Achievement (see article in Sound Waves, "USGS Scientist Jeff Williams Receives 2009 Coastal Zone Foundation Career Award").

He has authored or coauthored more than 350 publications, including research papers, journal articles, reports, and abstracts; and he has served on more than a dozen high-level national and State science committees, including the National Academy of Sciences, the National Oceanographic Partnership Program, the 1998 National Ocean Conference, the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force, the Louisiana Wetlands Restoration Task Force, and the Louisiana Sand Task Force. He also gave testimony to Congress on the effects of Hurricane Katrina on the Gulf Coast and most recently was a co-lead author on the U.S. Climate Change Science Program SAP 4.1 report assessing the effects of sea-level rise on U.S. coasts. In addition, Williams is a frequent lecturer at scientific conferences and is often invited to speak to students, State and local legislators, and civic groups on topics related to coastal and climate change.

Before taking a research position at the USGS center in Woods Hole, Williams directed the Coastal and Marine Geology Program from1996 to 2000, at USGS headquarters in Reston, Virginia. During that time, Williams, along with USGS research oceanographer Abby Sallenger, was responsible for refocusing the program toward coastal and nearshore mapping and research, with the addition of a 25-percent budget increase to address coastal-science needs on the United States' Atlantic, Pacific, Gulf of Mexico, and Great Lakes coasts.

Before joining the USGS, Williams was a research marine geologist with the Coastal Engineering Research Center in Washington, D.C., and an invited visiting scientist at the Institute of Oceanographic Sciences, Taunton, U.K. He earned degrees in geology/geophysics and oceanography from Allegheny College and Lehigh University and completed military service as a commissioned officer in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Williams' research interests are focused on three main topics: (1) mapping and understanding the geology and hard-mineral resources of offshore areas; (2) understanding the risk and vulnerability of U.S. coastal regions to climate change and its effects, such as sea-level rise and increased storm activity; and (3) coastal and wetland ecosystem processes and restoration. Additional information can be viewed at Williams' professional page.

Jeff can be reached at:, 508-457-2383 (USGS office), or, 508-563-6308 (home office).

Related Sound Waves Stories
USGS Scientist Jeff Williams Receives 2009 Coastal Zone Foundation Career Award
August 2009
USGS Scientists Are Major Contributors to New Report on Sea-Level Rise
March 2009
Expert Panel Discusses Potential Impacts of Future Sea-Level Rise on U.S. Mid-Atlantic Coast
July 2007

Related Web Sites
S. Jeffress Williams Professional Page

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Staff and Center News Jeff Williams Retires from USGS Center in Woods Hole, MA

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