When she took over in November 2009 as the first female director of the U.S. Geological Survey, geophysicist Marcia McNutt already had her work cut out for her in streamlining and modernizing a historic scientific agency. That was before a string of natural disasters—earthquakes in Haiti and Chile, a volcanic eruption in Iceland and the Gulf of Mexico oil spill—made her job an even bigger challenge. In October she spoke at the Geological Society of America meeting in Denver about the roller-coaster ride of her first year. Science News contributing editor Alexandra Witze compiled this edited version of McNutt’s comments.
On January 12, I was pulled out of a meeting to find out that Port-