Geological Society of America Announces 2019–2020 Fellows for Science Policy and Communication

Boulder, CO, USA: GSA has announced three 2019–2020 fellows who will assist with efforts to increase efficacy in serving society through science.

The 34th GSA-USGS Congressional Science Fellow (CSF) Mike O'Connor, will spend a year, beginning this fall, working as a staff member for a Member of Congress or congressional committee. O'Connor is a hydrologist with an extensive background in water resources and cold regions. While at the University of Texas working with Bayani Cardenas, he used fieldwork and numerical models to substantially improve understanding of how fast and how deep climate change-induced permafrost thaw will occur in Alaska. The fieldwork was conducted out of Toolik Field Station on the Alaskan North Slope, and was partially supported by GSA Grant funds.

Much of O'Connor’s Ph.D. was spent outside of his department and discipline, which helped him learn how to communicate complex ideas to people outside his discipline. He served as a Graduate Research Fellow within Oak Ridge National Laboratory's Climate Change Science Institute, and worked closely with a team of environmental system modelers. He also served as an intern for both the Texas Senate Committee on Agriculture, Water, and Rural Affairs (Spring 2015), as well as in the US House of Representatives Committee on Natural Resources (Summer 2017), where he helped communicate policy-relevant science to lawmakers and their staff. These experiences will hopefully prove useful during his time on the Hill this year.


Ryan Haupt has been appointed to serve as the 2019–2020 GSA Science Policy Fellow in Washington, D.C. Haupt will serve as the "in-house" fellow, working with GSA's Director for Geoscience Policy to bring science and scientists into the policy process. This position acts as a science policy liaison, keeping GSA members informed, involved, and represented in national policy, including research funding, energy and natural resource assessments, climate change policy, and natural hazard mitigation and response. The fellow also works closely with GSA's Geology and Public Policy Committee on geoscience initiatives, including developing Society-wide position statements on national issues.

Haupt is a Ph.D. candidate in the Geology and Geophysics Department at the University of Wyoming, where he studies the dietary ecology of living and extinct animals, in particular sloths, which he began studying with his Master of Science degree from Vanderbilt University. Haupt has extensive geological and biological training and experience, beginning with his undergraduate Bachelor of Science degrees in Environmental Geology and Ecology & Evolutionary Biology from the University of California, Santa Cruz, including fieldwork all around California and in the neotropics. Haupt also served as a GeoCorps-GIP intern at Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument in Colorado. His current research involves developing and refining tools to determine diet in organisms that tend to confound traditional methods, such as sloths.


Terri Cook (@GeoTravelTerri) began her term on 1 July as the 2019–2020 GSA Science Communication Fellow. In this role, Cook will help translate technical research from GSA journals and presentations into relatable stories for non-technical audiences. Terri hopes to help expand geoscientific understanding and appreciation among lay (and scientific) audiences, and diversify the outlets in which GSA-published research results appear.

Cook earned a master's degree in geology from the University of California Santa Cruz, where she studied rocks from deep-sea hot springs, and an undergraduate degree in archaeology from Tufts University. She has worked for the past eight years as a freelance science and travel writer for numerous publications and news outlets. Her writing interests include geology, geoheritage, ecology, and the environment—as well as wine, hiking, and travel.

From the remote Australia Outback to the depths of the Grand Canyon and the mist-shrouded summit of Bali's Mount Batur, Terri's reporting has taken her to 25 countries on six continents. Her bylines include five books plus dozens of articles in diverse publications ranging from Eos, Scientific American, New Scientist, NOVA Next, Science News, GeoExPro, and EARTH magazine to Lonely Planet, the Los Angeles Times travel section, Outside, 5280 magazine, and Avalon Travel.

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The Geological Society of America, founded in 1888, is a scientific society with members from academia, government, and industry in more than 100 countries. Through its meetings, publications, and programs, GSA enhances the professional growth of its members and promotes the geosciences in the service of humankind. Headquartered in Boulder, Colorado, USA, GSA encourages cooperative research among earth, life, planetary, and social scientists, fosters public dialogue on geoscience issues, and supports all levels of earth science education.

For Immediate Release
2 August 2019
GSA Release No. 19-27

Christa Stratton

Michael O'Connor

GSA-USGS Congressional Science Fellow Mike O'Connor.

Ryan Haupt

Ryan Haupt, 2019–2020 GSA Science Policy Fellow.

Terri Cook

Terri Cook, 2019–2020 GSA Science Communication Fellow.