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Interior Secretary Kempthorne Praises Dr. P. Patrick Leahy for 33 Years of Service
Released: 3/7/2007 10:00:00 AM

Contact Information:
U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey
Office of Communication
119 National Center
Reston, VA 20192
Scott Harris 1-click interview
Phone: 703-648-4054

Clarice Nassif Ransom 1-click interview
Phone: 703-648-4299

Reston, VA - The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) announced today that Dr. P. Patrick Leahy, associate director for geology, will be retiring in April from the federal government after 33 years of service as a premier USGS scientist and agency leader. Dr. Leahy will continue his commitment to science as executive director of the American Geological Institute effective May 2, 2007.

Department of the Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne praised Dr. Leahy, who also served as USGS acting director from June 2005 to October 2006, for his leadership and management skills.

"Pat Leahy is a respected scientist and administrator who has positively influenced the fields of geology and hydrology for more than 30 years," said Secretary Kempthorne. "During his government career, Pat has successfully worked to ensure that the USGS's scientific capabilities are effectively utilized by policy makers, the public, and our partners. His leadership will be missed."

USGS Director Mark Myers added, "Pat Leahy is a remarkable scientist and a very effective manager of people. He is calm under pressure and is an incredible diplomat, bringing many different groups together for collaboration and consensus. We will miss his enthusiasm and genuine passion for science, but look forward to working with him when he becomes executive director of the American Geological Institute."

In his current role as associate director for geology at USGS, Dr. Leahy is responsible for USGS earth science programs and international work, including worldwide earthquake hazards monitoring and research, geologic mapping of land and seafloor resources, volcano and landslide hazards, and assessments of energy and mineral resources. He has been with the U.S. Geological Survey since 1974, having served in various technical and managerial positions, including Chief of the National Water-Quality Assessment Program.

Dr. Leahy's passion for geology and hydrology has brought him to 35 countries where he has studied everything from natural disasters to water resources. He has also been instrumental in helping governments develop mapping systems and discover natural resources. Examples of his most recent international treks include a trip to Antarctica where he experienced firsthand USGS research efforts in the land of snow and ice and a trip to Afghanistan where he led the USGS efforts for the sustainable economic reconstruction of that country.

"One of the best kept secrets about being a geologist is that you get to see the world," said Dr. Leahy. "One of the biggest challenges of being a scientist is delivering information in ways that are meaningful to society and policy makers so that their actions are science based."

A native of Troy, New York, Dr. Leahy holds undergraduate and graduate degrees in geology (1968) and geophysics (1970) from Boston College. He received his doctorate in geology (1979) from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute where he specialized in regional ground-water studies and hydraulics. He has authored or co-authored more than 60 publications on a wide array of earth science topics.

Major accomplishments during Dr. Leahy's career include:

  • Working closely with stakeholders on water resource availability issues for 15 years in USGS field offices in New York, Delaware, and New Jersey;
  • Implementing the USGS Mendenhall program of post doctorates to ensure future scientific excellence;
  • Completing the ground-water model of the Northern Atlantic Coastal Plain as part of the regional aquifer system analysis program;
  • Implementing the USGS National Water Quality Assessment Program;
  • Serving as USGS chief geologist;
  • Commissioning the science strategy team in 2006 to chart the science priorities of the USGS for the next decade;
  • Directing the implementation of a comprehensive reconnaissance of avian influenza in migratory birds and a strategy to ensure the continuity of land imaging; and,
  • Implementing a multi-hazards initiative within the USGS.

The USGS will name an acting associate director of geology upon Dr. Leahy's departure.

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