Earth Sciences Division (ESD) Department of Energy (DOE) Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL)
Division Office
Photo by: Maryann Villavert 

Earth Sciences Division Directors

Susan Hubbard - 2013 to Present

Susan Hubbard was appointed director of the Berkeley Lab’s Earth Sciences Division April 5, 2013.  She takes over from Associate Lab Director for Energy and Environment Don DePaolo, who served as acting division director.  Susan joined ESD as a Scientist in 1998 and soon thereafter became the lead of the ESD Environmental Water and Resources Program.  She has played a pivotal role in the development and leadership of several large, multi-disciplinary research projects, including the LBNL DOE Subsurface Biogeochemistry SFA, the DOE Advanced Simulation Capability for Environmental Management (ASCEM), the DOE Next Generation Ecosystem Experiments (NGEE-Arctic) and the Energy Bioscience Institute Petroleum Microbiology Program. Susan has served as ESD Deputy Director for Science since 2010 and serves on several scientific advisory boards, including the DOE BER Advisory Committee (BERAC). She is the Associate Director of the Berkeley Water Center, a Co-Editor for the Vadose Zone Journal and an Associate Editor for JGR-Biogeosciences.  Susan has been recognized by her research community for her outstanding achievements: she is the recipient of the Frank Frischknecht award for leadership and innovation in near-surface geophysics, was the 2010 Birdsall Dreiss Distinguished Lecturer, and is a Fellow of the Geological Society of America. For more information about Susan Hubbard, go to her website at

Donald J. DePaolo - 2007 to 2013

Don DePaolo was appointed director of the Berkeley Lab’s Earth Sciences Division in October 2007 by former Berkeley Lab Director, and former U.S. Department of Energy Secretary, Dr. Steven Chu. In 2010, DePaolo was named as Associate Lab Director for Energy and Environmental Sciences (acting 2010-2012, 2012-Present) and oversees Chemical Sciences, Environmental Energy Technologies, Materials Sciences, and Earth Sciences Divisions. In Spring of 2009, DePaolo became the Director of the Center for Nanoscale Control of Geologic CO2 (EFRC). DePaolo also served as head of the Earth Sciences Division’s geochemistry department. He also established and directs the Center for Isotope Geochemistry, a joint research facility between Berkeley Lab and UC Berkeley. DePaolo is also the Class of 1951 Professor of Geochemistry in UC Berkeley’s Department of Earth and Planetary Science. His research interests include applications of mass spectrometry and isotope geochemistry to fundamental problems in geology, origin and evolution of the earth's continental crust and mantle, radiometric dating of igneous, metamorphic, and sedimentary rocks, and isotopic hydrology and oceanography. He received a Ph.D. in geology from the California Institute of Technology in 1978. For more information about Don DePaolo, go to his website at

Ernest L. Majer - 2006 to 2007 (Acting)

Ernie Majer is currently the Senior Advisor for the Earth Sciences Division, and was appointed as the Acting Division Director in November of 2006 by former Berkeley Lab Director, Dr. Steven Chu. Prior to becoming the Deputy Director for ESD (in 2001), Majer was the Department Head for Geophysics (known prior to 2001 as "Geophysics and Geomechanics"). Majer served as the Program Head for ESD's Fundamental & Exploratory Research and continues to serve as the Head of ESD's Energy Resources Program. He received a Ph.D. in geophysics from UC Berkeley in 1978. For more information about Ernie Majer, go to his website at

Gudmundur (Bo) S. Bodvarsson - 2001 to 2006

In Memoriam - November 11, 1952 -- November 29, 2006

In 2001, Bodvarsson became the first native of Iceland to hold a division director appointment at this laboratory or, in all likelihood, any other DOE national laboratory. He was appointed by then Lab director Charles Shank, who praised Bodvarsson for his “creativity and insights.” Prior to being named the Director for the Earth Sciences Division, Bodvarsson served as the Head of ESD's Nuclear Waste Program (now called the Nuclear Energy & Waste Program) and served on the Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management, Yucca Mountain Project as the Berkeley Lab Lead. Bodvarsson's research interests included fluid flow and transport in heterogeneous medium, theoretical and applied research on multi-phase, multi-component systems, coupled processes (TH, THC, THM)/geothermal system evaluation, and multi-disciplinary testing and modeling evaluations of complex underground systems.

Norman E. Goldstein - 2000 to 2001 (Acting)

Norm Goldstein appointed as the Acting Director for the Earth Sciences Division, by then Lab director Charles Shank. In 1998, Goldstein became the Deputy Director for ESD.  Goldstein previously served as an ESD group leader in Geophysics (known prior to 2001 as "Geophysics and Geomechanics") and in the Geothermal projects under the Energy Resources Program. Following his retirement from the Lab in 2002, Goldstein continues to collaborate on various ESD projects and works in Sonoma, CA. He received a Ph.D. in engineering geoscience (geophysics) from UC Berkeley in 1965. 

Sally M. Benson - 1992 to 2000

Sally Benson served as Division Director for Earth Sciences and Associate Laboratory Director for Energy Sciences beginning in 1992. Beginning in 2000, Sally Benson completed a four-year term as the Deputy Director for Operations at the Berkeley Lab returning to Earth Sciences to continue her research. A groundwater hydrologist and reservoir engineer, Benson has conducted research to address a range of issues related to energy and the environment, including environmental remediation, gas storage, geothermal energy production, and in carbon sequestration, particularly on sequestration in deep geologic formations. Benson completed her graduate education in 1988, at the University of California, Berkeley, receiving her M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Materials Science and Mineral Engineering. By 2007, Benson made the move to Stanford University as a research Professor in the Department of Energy Resources Engineering, in the School of Earth Sciences and is currently Stanford University's Global Climate and Energy Project Director and she continues to collaborate with the ESD.

Thomas V. McEvilly - 1982 to 1992

In Memoriam - September 2, 1934 -- February 22, 2002

In the 1970s Tom McEvilly began working with the Earth Sciences Division on the exploration for new sources of geothermal energy, which involved a number of geophysical investigations in California, Nevada, and Mexico. His research covered a broad range of topics, mostly in the field of seismology. They included studies of crust and upper mantle structure, detailed investigations of earthquake sources around the world, exploratory studies of geothermal energy, contributions in support of a nuclear test ban treaty, tests of earthquake prediction scenarios, application of seismic reflection methods to a variety of tectonic problems, and use of controlled sources to measure anisotropy and temporal changes in seismic velocity. McEvilly obtained his Ph.D. in Geophysical Engineering from St. Louis University in 1964.

Paul A. Witherspoon - 1977 to 1982

In Memoriam - February 9, 1919 -- February 10, 2012

The Division was founded on July 21, 1977, when then Lab Director Andrew Sessler signed a letter enacting its creation. Earth Sciences was an outgrowth of the Energy and Environment Division, which is now the Environmental Energy Technologies Division. ESD’s first director was Paul Witherspoon, who transferred the Geothermal and Geosciences Program and other research areas from the Energy and Environment Division to formulate the technical scope of the Earth Sciences Division. Witherspoon's research included reservoir engineering, geochemical and production engineering, geophysical studies and land subsidence research (related to the impact of geothermal wells) and applied it to geothermal activities and nuclear waste isolation projects. Witherspoon received his Ph.D in petroleum engineering physics at the University of Illinois, Urbana in 1956. For more information about Paul Witherspoon, go to his website at