World-renowned seismologist reflects on decades-long career

Dr. Lucy Jones discusses breaking barriers over the last 30 years

Dr. Lucy Jones (CBS News) (Copyright 2023 by WKMG ClickOrlando - All rights reserved.)

LOS ANGELES – When it comes to earthquakes, Dr. Lucy Jones is who Californians have turned to for information for more than three decades.

“One should always be preparing for a big one,” Jones said.

As a world-renowned seismologist, Jones has brought comfort and counsel to a rattled public. But even she will tell you: she never imagined the career she has enjoyed.

“Absolutely not. I mean, a research scientist recognition is having your paper cited in some other paper. And that’s what I would I thought I was going to be,” Jones said.

Growing up, she wanted to follow in her father’s footsteps. Her dad was an aviation engineer who helped to put NASA astronauts on the moon. Jones said her career goal was to become an astrophysicist. But in college, she decided to become a geophysicist. It was then that she realized she was breaking barriers.

“I was always the only woman in my physics classes as an undergraduate. And when I got to MIT, there was one woman in seismology. If anything, it fueled me and again, my parents, especially my father, it was like, ‘yeah, women don’t do science. But you’re my daughter. My daughter is going to do it,’” Jones said.

And she’s shown women belong in science. Through her decades of research and public advocacy for risk reduction, she’s been able to change policy and create “The Great Shake Out,” now a worldwide earthquake drill.

Jones said it’s hard to know what impact she’s had at this stage. She says she would like to think she’s made a difference.

Her next mission is to use music to bring together scientists, artists and people from around the world in hopes of inspiring understanding and action on climate change, which she says is more devastating to our planet than earthquakes. She composes and plays music on her viola with the group “Tempo: Music for Climate Action.”

When asked how she’d like to be remembered, Jones said she wants to be remembered as a scientist rather than just a communicator, a scientist who cared about the science getting used.