Dr. Virginia Burkett
Chief Climate Scientist for Climate & Land Use Change
United States Geological Survey

Dr. Burkett is the Chief Scientist for Climate and Land Use Change (CLU). In this role, she provides scientific leadership and guidance for several USGS programs, including the Land Change Science Program, Land Remote Sensing Program, National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center, Climate Research and Development Program, Carbon Sequestration assessments, and the Earth Resources Observation and Science Center.  She serves as Co-Chair of the US Global Change Research Program, which is comprised of 13 federal science agencies that are charged with implementing the US Global Change Research Act of 1990. 

Dr. Burkett served as the Associate Director for the USGS Climate and Land Use Change Mission Area during 2015-2017 and as Chief Scientist for Global Change Research during the prior eight years.  She was the Co-Chair of the Strategic Science Planning Team that developed the 10-year science strategy for the Climate and Land Use Change Mission Area. Dr. Burkett was formerly Chief of the Wetlands Ecology Branch at the USGS National Wetlands Research Center in Lafayette, Louisiana, and subsequently the Associate Regional Chief Biologist for the USGS Central Region. Earlier in her early career at the state level, she served as Deputy Director of the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF). Dr. Burkett later served as Secretary/Director of LDWF. She also directed the Louisiana Coastal Zone Management Program and served as Assistant Director of the Louisiana Geological Survey.

Dr. Burkett has published extensively on the topics of climate change, sea level rise, and low-lying coastal zones. She was a Lead Author of the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Third, Fourth, and Fifth Assessment Reports (2001, 2007, and 2014) and the IPCC Technical Paper on Water (2008), and of all three U.S. National Assessments of climate change impacts produced by the U.S. Global Change Research Program. Additionally, Dr. Burkett has published numerous journal articles, books, and reports that address climate change impacts and potential adaptation strategies. She is a Senior Editor of the journal Regional Environmental Change and serves on the Editorial Board of the journal Ethics in Science and Environmental Politics. She has been appointed to over 60 Commissions, Committees, Science Panels and Boards during her career.