Susan Hubbard

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Susan Hubbard
BSc Geology
MSc Geophysics
PhD Civil and Environmental Engineering
BSc university University of California, Santa Barbara
MSc university VPI&SU, Virginia
PhD university University of California at Berkeley

Susan Hubbard is the deputy for science and technology at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, where she oversees one of the nation's most extensive portfolios of research and development. Prior to joining Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Susan was the founding associate lab director of the Berkeley Lab’s Earth and Environmental Sciences Area and its environmental geophysics group, a geologist at the U.S. Geological Survey, and a geophysicist in the oil and gas industry.

Susan’s research focuses on quantifying terrestrial system dynamics, with an emphasis on development of geophysical approaches and data integration strategies to provide insights about how hydrological, geochemical, and biological processes interact and influence water availability, water quality, carbon cycling, and agriculture system behaviors. She is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Geophysical Union (AGU), and the Geological Society of America (GSA). She has received the SEG Frank Frischknecht Leadership Award, the SEG Harold Mooney Award, the American Institute of Hydrology Robert G. Wetzel Award, and the GSA Birdsall Dreiss Distinguished Lecturer Award. She was the founding chair of the AGU Hydrogeophysical Technical Committee and is currently the Chair of the Hydrosphere and Atmosphere Section of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Susan earned her PhD in civil and environmental engineering at UC Berkeley, her masters in geophysics at Virginia Tech, and her bachelor’s in geology at UC Santa Barbara.

Research Interests

Susan’s research focuses on advancing the use of geophysical methods for shallow subsurface characterization and monitoring and the use of integrated datasets to investigate environmental problems. She edited the first book on hydrogeophysics, and has published more than 100 papers on this topic. Susan’s research can be generally categorized into the following areas:

  • Hydrogeological research – Hydrogeological research has focused on the development and testing of estimation methodologies that permit systematic fusion of geophysical and hydrogeological datasets for improved understanding of subsurface hydrogeological properties.
  • Biogeophysical research – Biogeophysical and remediation monitoring research includes the development and testing of petrophysical models and estimation frameworks that permit the interpretation of time-lapse geophysical signatures in terms of remediation-induced biogeochemical transformations.
  • Permafrost geophysics – Permafrost geophysics focuses on characterizing active layer and permafrost variability in vulnerable Arctic ecosystems and on monitoring biogeochemical changes associated with freeze-thaw processes and carbon degradation.
  • Precision viticulture – Precision viticulture research focuses on integrating remote sensing and ground-based geophysical datasets with soil, plant, and climate-based information to guide the optimal development of new or management of existing vineyards in a manner that honors the natural variability of the site.
  • Environmental synthesis – Environmental synthesis activities include those that strive to advance research across disciplinary boundaries and scales as needed to tackle 21st Century natural resource problems.


  • Professional Certificate in Winemaking and Viticulture, UC Davis, 2009
  • Ph.D. Engineering, Dept. of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of California at Berkeley, 1998. Dissertation: Stochastic Characterization of Hydrogeological Properties using Geophysical Datasets
  • M.S. Geophysics, Dept. of Geological Sciences, VPI&SU, Virginia. Thesis: Integrated seismic reflection data processing and interpretation of Southern Appalachian tectonic history
  • B.S. Geology, Dept. of Geology, University of California, Santa Barbara. Departmental Highest Honor Award.

Professional Positions

  • 2013+ Director, Earth Sciences Division, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, CA
  • 2010–2013 Deputy Director for Programs, Earth Science Division, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, CA
  • 2010+ Senior Scientist, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, CA
  • 2002–2010 Staff Scientist, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, CA
  • 1998–2002 Scientist, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, CA
  • 1990–1993 Geophysicist, ARCO Oil and Gas Co.
  • 1985–1987 Geologist, U.S. Geological Survey, Branch of Seismology


  • 2013–2014: Distinguished technical communication for the BER virtual laboratory: Innovative Framework for Biological and Environmental Grand Challenges, DOE/SC-0156, bestowed by the Society for Technical Communication, Washington DC
  • 2014 Distinguished Alumni Award, UCB Civil and Environmental Engineering[1]
  • 2013 Outstanding Women @ The Lab
  • 2011 GSA Fellow
  • 2010 GSA Birdsall-Dreiss Distinguished Lecturer
  • 2009 Frank Frischknecht Leadership Award, Near Surface Geophysical Society
  • 2009 Top Associate Editor Award, Journal of Hydrology
  • 2008 The Leading Edge of Exploration 'Most Influential Article' Recognition
  • 1998 Dissertation Award in Water Processes, Univ. Council on Water Resources
  • 1994 Jane Lewis Fellowship, UC Berkele
  • 1993 Antonia Fung Memorial Fellowship, UC Berkeley
  • 1993 Maybelle B. Tucker and John T. Tucker Fellowship, UC Berkeley
  • 1991 ARCO Co-Worker Achievement Award
  • 1990 Cooper Award for Appalachian Research Advances, Virginia Tech
  • 1989 AMOCO Oil Fellowship, Virginia Tech
  • 1988 ARCO Fellowship, Virginia Tech
  • 1988 Aubrey E. Orange Award for Excellent scholastic achievement, Virginia Tech
  • 1988 Chevron Fellowship, Virginia Tech
  • 1986 Top Geological Sciences Major Award, UC Santa Barbara
  • 1985 Outstanding Senior in Geological Sciences Chevron Award, UC Santa Barbara
  • 1984 Outstanding Woman in Petroleum, Ventura County Scholarship
  • 1984 Outstanding Junior in Geological Sciences Union Oil Award, UC Santa Barbara

Media and Social Media

  • Genomes to Watershed video, December 2014
  • Arctic research video story, December 2014: PBS KQED 'Deep Look', The Hidden Perils of Permafrost.
  • Arctic research media highlight, UCB Engineering: The underground: Studying the Arctic tundra, Innovations, February 2014 issue
  • Arctic research media highlight, 'Witness the Arctic' Arcus Highlight, 2013
  • Arctic geophysical research media highlight, 'Imaging Permafrost' 2013 PNAS highlight on NGEE Geophysical Efforts
  • Video, Susan Hubbard, 2013, YouTube Video describing NGEE project
  • Video Enhanced Microbial Hydrocarbon Recovery, Susan Hubbard EBI video, 2013
  • Arctic research media highlight, Science Today, March 12, 2012
  • Arctic research, NGEE field blog
  • Arctic research media highlight, 'Permafrost Science Heats up in the U.S.', Nature News, December 19, 2011
  • Precision agriculture media highlight, Wine Enthusiast, 'Water into Wine', May 2009
  • Video, Precision agriculture media highight, Susan Hubbard on CNN, Next@CNN, November 1, 2003 CNN Video Clip and Text Summary
  • Precision agriculture media highlight, 'Radar in the Vineyard', Wine Business Monthly Volume X, No. 11, p.35, Nov., 2003
  • Precision agriculture media highlight, California Agriculture, Vol. 58, Number 1, January 2004
  • Precision agriculture media highlight, The Economist, December 18, 2003
  • Precision agriculture media highlight, 'Radar fur die Reben', Der Spiegel, December 2003, Germany
  • Precision agriculture media highlight, Science News, May 29, 2004
  • Precision agriculture media highlight, New York Times, April 15, 2004
  • Precision agriculture media highlight, 'Cat Scan your Soil, California Farmer Magazine, December 2003
  • Precision agriculture media highlight, Yahoo News, April 2004
  • Precision agriculture media highlight, Vitaviniccultura, October 23, Chile
  • Precision agriculture media highlight, The Toronto Star, December 2004
  • Precision agriculture media highlight, The Daily Cal, Berkeley, 2004
  • Precision agriculture media highlight, 'Il buon vino? Lo sceglie il radar', Corriere, Italy, 2004
  • Precision agriculture interview and science story, TECH TV, November 18, 2003

2022 SEG Virtual Near-Surface Global Lecturer

A watershed moment for critical zone geophysics

The critical zone is an extremely important veneer of our Earth that influences water resources, agricultural productivity, and the carbon cycle. Hydrogeological, geochemical, and biological processes in the critical zone occur across a range of scales and across bedrock-through-canopy compartments, rendering characterization using traditional methods challenging. Additionally, land-use change, environmental trends, and abrupt disturbances are significantly reshaping interactions within critical zones at a time when population growth and resource-intensive lifestyles are increasingly relying on benefits provided by the Earth’s critical zone.

This presentation will focus on recently developed constructs to conceptualize and tractably quantify hydrobiogeochemical critical zone behaviors using geophysical methods. The constructs include a functional zone approach that uses diverse, remotely sensed datasets to rapidly characterize the organization of a terrestrial system and simultaneous above-and-below ground geophysical monitoring strategies to quantify how terrestrial systems respond to press and pulse disturbances. The constructs will be described using case studies from a Colorado mountainous watershed, an Arctic permafrost ecosystem, and vineyard agriculture sites. The presentation will emphasize how geophysical data combined with emerging technologies (such as low-cost distributed sensors, machine learning, 5G wireless communications, and computational capacity) are starting to reveal their value for greatly enhancing the predictive understanding of critical zone behaviors. With new scientific and technological advances, we now have the opportunity to seize this ‘Watershed Moment’ for accelerating our understanding and management of the Earth’s critical zone.


Additional Resource

A recording of the lecture is available.[2]

SEG Best Paper Presented at the Annual Meeting 2011 [3]

Jonathan B. Ajo-Franklin, Thomas M. Daley, Yuxin Wu, Susan S. Hubbard, John Peterson,Belinda Butler-Veytia, and Bob Kelley received 2011 Best Paper Presented at the Annual Meeting for their paper Multi-level continuous active source seismic monitoring (ML-CASSM): Mapping shallow hydrofracture evolution at a TCE contaminated site.


  1. Lawrence Berkeley Lab Homepage
  3. Honors & Awards Program, SEG Annual Meeting 2012, 4:30 p.m., Sunday, 4 November 2012, Mandalay Bay Convention Center,Las Vegas, Nevada USA

External links

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Susan Hubbard
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