PASADENA, Calif. (AP) — Seismologist Lucy Jones, the face of earthquake science and safety in Southern California for many years, is retiring from the U.S. Geological Survey.
Jones said in a Twitter posting Friday that she's leaving federal service but will keep her appointment at the California Institute of Technology, where she is a research associate.
For years, Jones has been the scientist the public has turned to when the earth shakes, standing in front of news cameras at the Caltech seismology lab to explain magnitudes, faults and other details.
"When I give it a name, I give it a number, I give it a fault, it puts it back into a box and makes it less frightening," Jones told the Los Angeles Times (http://lat.ms/1nUiMZr). "You feel better if somebody shows they understand what's going on."
In her current role as USGS science adviser for risk reduction, Jones has also been highly visible in outreach efforts aimed at improving public readiness for quakes — everything from crawling under tables during drills to advising government leaders on policy matters.
The latter included recent work with the city of Los Angeles to address key vulnerabilities that could lead to catastrophic economic collapse in the event of a seismic disaster.
Jones, 61, was born in Santa Monica and earned a doctorate in geophysics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1981 after receiving a bachelor's degree in Chinese language and literature at Brown University in 1976. She and her husband, Caltech seismologist Egill Hauksson, raised two sons.
In 1992, Jones memorably gave a televised news conference about the magnitude-7.3 Landers earthquake while holding one of her young sons.
Jones will end her 33 years with the USGS on March 30.