USGS Seismologist Lucy Jones to Receive Prestigious Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medal

Secretary Jewell will present award at ceremony tonight

Last edited 09/29/2021

Date: October 7, 2015
Contact: Jessica Kershaw,

WASHINGTON – To honor groundbreaking earthquake research by U.S. Geological Survey seismologist Dr. Lucile “Lucy” Jones, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell will present Jones with the prestigious Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medal  (Sammies) at an awards ceremony this evening at the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium.

“Dr. Jones is a role model, not only for her scientific accomplishments at the U.S. Geological Survey, but also for her public service to humanity,” Secretary Jewell said today. “Besides conducting leading research on earthquakes, she turns complex scientific concepts into plain English, educating the public so they can take action to save lives and property.”

Jones will be one of eight federal employees honored this evening by the nonprofit Partnership for Public Service. Her award in the citizen services category recognizes her research on estimating the short-term probability of foreshock and aftershock sequences – research that has become the basis of all earthquake advisories issued by the state of California – as well as her vital educational work to connect science applications with the public. Jones’ ShakeOut Scenario, which started in 2008, is an educational campaign that has spread across the globe.

Started in 2008 in Southern California and based on the magnitude 7.8 earthquake on the San Andreas Fault described in the ShakeOut Scenario, the ShakeOut Drill has grown to become the largest public safety drill in the world, with more than 26 million participants in 2014. The next ShakeOut Drill is scheduled for October 15, 2015.

The Sammies are known as the “Oscars” of government service. They are a highly respected honor with a vigorous selection process chosen from government employees nationwide.

“I am humbled by this honor and grateful for the opportunities to serve the public for more than 30 years,” said Jones, who started at USGS in 1983. “I believe it is our obligation as scientists to make information understandable to nonscientists so that it can be used to support others in making our country safer from inevitable natural disasters.”

“All of us at USGS are thrilled that Lucy has been honored with a Sammie. The citizen services category is particularly appropriate, given her dedication to making science relevant to day-to-day decisions affecting public safety,” said Suzette Kimball, USGS acting director. “Lucy's work epitomizes the USGS mission to provide sound science for decision-making, and directly benefits communities in their efforts to protect people and property."

In Los Angeles, where Jones was the science advisor for seismic safety to Mayor Eric Garcetti, Jones brought together city officials and leaders in academia, industry and business to address the earthquake risk and develop an action plan based on her analysis of earthquake hazards and vulnerabilities. The work led to the city’s “Resilience by Design” report, which will be translated into laws that make residents of the city safer.

“Dr. Jones' groundbreaking work to bridge the gap between seismic science and public action will make a life-saving difference for countless Angelenos and Californians when disaster strikes,” said Garcetti. “I couldn't be prouder of the work we did together to better prepare our city for the inevitable with our ‘Resilience by Design’ report, and I can't think of a more worthy recipient for one of our nation's highest honors.”

“I hope that everything we’ve to done to make the state safer will not just serve the region, but the nation as well,” Jones said.

Named for the nonprofit, nonpartisan Partnership for Public Service’s late founder, who was inspired by President Kennedy’s call to serve in 1963, the Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medal aligns with his vision of a dynamic and innovative federal workforce that meets the needs of the American people.

The entire Sammies ceremony will be live streamed from Washington, D.C., and viewable online at, live from 6:30 – 9:30 p.m. EDT.

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