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Steven Schwarzbach Appointed Director of USGS Western Ecological Research Center

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photo of Steve Schwarzbach on Pacaya volcano in Guatemala
Above: Steve Schwarzbach is the new director of the USGS Western Ecological Research Center. Photograph taken by Steve’s daughter, Laurel, as they climbed Pacaya volcano in Guatemala.

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has appointed Steven Schwarzbach to serve as center director of the USGS Western Ecological Research Center, headquartered in Sacramento, CA.

Schwarzbach joined both the USGS and the Western Ecological Research Center in 2002 as one of the center's research managers. In July 2004, he became the center's first deputy director, and he has been acting center director since the retirement of Deborah Maxwell in spring 2005.

Anne Kinsinger, USGS western regional chief of biological research, said that Schwarzbach's expertise and background are great assets in his new position because of the complex, often synergistic ecological challenges of California. "Steve not only brings his ability as a manager to this position, but he also brings his considerable wealth of knowledge about a multitude of important natural-resource issues facing the region."

At the Western Ecological Research Center, Schwarzbach oversees a wide variety of research, including such topics as contaminants, fire ecology, invasive species, avian ecology, global climate change, wetland restoration, and amphibian declines. He has conducted numerous field studies of contamination impacts to fish and wildlife and their habitats, working on mercury, selenium, petroleum spills, hazardous waste, agricultural drainwater, pesticides, acid mine drainage, and halogenated compounds of many origins. Schwarzbach is particularly known for his work with mercury and California clapper rails (endangered birds) in San Francisco Bay.

Schwarzbach was born in Tennessee but is a long-time resident of California. He graduated in 1976 from the University of California, Santa Barbara, with a B.A. in environmental biology and environmental studies. In 1983, he graduated with an M.A. in education from San Francisco State University. At the University of California, Davis, he earned both his M.S. and Ph.D. in ecology, in 1986 and 1989, respectively.

Before joining the USGS, Schwarzbach worked for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for nearly 14 years, serving for 6 years as the chief of the Environmental Contaminants Division in the Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office. While in the Fish and Wildlife Service, he worked on linking science to the agency's policy on numerous environmental-contaminant issues affecting Department of Interior trust resources. Previously, Schwarzbach worked as a seasonal ranger with the National Park Service, built trails for the U.S. Forest Service, and gained experience as an elementary school teacher. In his spare time, he enjoys whitewater canoeing and telemark skiing.

Related Web Sites
Western Ecological Research Center
U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)

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in this issue: Fieldwork
Cover Story:
USGS Provides Aid in the Aftermath of Hurricane Katrina

Coastal Impacts of Hurricane Katrina

Hydrologic Impacts of Hurricane Dennis

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Meetings 2005 Meeting of the Digital Library for Earth System Education

Workshop on Integrating Modeling and Laboratory Gas Hydrate Studies

Staff & Center News Steven Schwarzbach Appointed Director of USGS Western Ecological Research Center

Woods Hole Science Center Hosts Visitor from India

Publications September Publications List

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