June 08, 2019

Tom Casadevall’69 DSC

“He and his team were credited with saving 600 lives and providing at least 2,000 people with food and supplies in the early days of the recovery effort”
  • Tom Casadevall’69 speaking at the 2019 Alumni Assembly.
    Megan O’Leary

Awarded in 2019
50th Reunion Award

A graduation requirement changed the course of Tom’s life. The Beloit Planner needed to fulfill a science requirement upon completing his anthropology major, and he was pointed toward geology. Upon taking a course with “The Chief” Hank Woodard, Tom’s fate as a “leaky booter” was sealed. He stayed a ninth term and completed another bachelor’s degree in geology.

After graduation, Tom went on to complete his master’s degree in geology and his Ph.D. in geochemistry from Pennsylvania State University. Tom’s interest in volcanoes has led him to travel all over the world and combine his love of both anthropology and geology. In 1996, Tom began his tenure at the United States Geological Survey in the Office of the Director. He held several posts at the organization, including regional director for both the Western and Central regions, then as deputy director, and acting director.

Throughout his career, Tom has had several remarkable experiences, from responding to the first earthquakes at Mount St. Helens to leading a response team to Hurricane Katrina in 2005. During the hurricane, Tom converted his team of scientists into search and rescue personnel. He and his team were credited with saving 600 lives and providing at least 2,000 people with food and supplies in the early days of the recovery effort. The team was honored with Service to America medals the following year. He was also awarded the Presidential Rank award, given to a small number of senior federal employees.

Tom retired from USGS in 2008 and was honored with the Scientist Emeritus title from the organization. He has kept busy by leading the U.S. Geoheritage and Geoparks Advisory Group and revising the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s thematic study on world heritage volcanoes.

The Alumni Association recognizes Thomas Casadevall for leading a life of purposeful consequence, and we are pleased to award him our highest honor: the Distinguished Service Citation.

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