Volcano Watch: HVO people and jobs, Part 2: Who and what is the Scientist-in-Charge?

  • Thomas A. Jaggar, shown at his desk circa 1925, founded the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory in 1912 and served as its Director until he retired in 1940. Since then, volcano monitoring and research efforts in Hawaii have been guided by 19 scientists who have served as HVO’s “Director” or “Scientist-in-Charge.” In 2015, Christina Neal (inset) became HVO’s most recent Scientist-in-Charge. (USGS photos)

Since the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory was founded by the visionary Dr. Thomas A. Jaggar in 1912, a senior scientist has been responsible for its work and staff. Over time, the leadership title has changed from “Director” to “Scientist-in-Charge” (SIC), but the principal responsibilities endure: (1) ensure that HVO has funding, people, and equipment to research and monitor Hawaii’s volcanoes and warn of hazards; (2) lead observatory staff as they respond to, document, and study eruptions; and (3) engage with emergency managers, the public, and other government agencies to minimize negative impacts.