In a rare and very personal candid interview, Dr. Lucy Jones, the world’s most foremost authority on earthquakes, opens up to LA Stories with Giselle Fernandez and shares her remarkable career journey and the challenges that came as a woman rising to the top of her profession.
The renowned seismologist, and the first American scientist in China when it opened to the West, reveals to Giselle that from her experience she has learned that women cannot have it all. From experiencing toxic masculinity in the workplace, imposter syndrome, and working mother guilt, she says as a woman in a predominantly men’s field that the challenges she faced made her strive even harder.
“The Earthquake Lady” also shares that the famous 1992 photo of her holding her toddler son while giving news updates on the Landers temblor belies reality -- telling LA Stories that her family and career suffered while she tried to do both jobs.
She credits her husband, also a seismologist, for stepping up as a fully supportive partner behind the scenes. Dr. Jones also credits another man, her father, for encouraging her to rise above imposed expectations and limitations.
He worked on NASA's first lunar modules and raised Jones to embrace science even though the times did not encourage females to pursue STEM careers. Jones also shared that she has a difficult time expressing emotions and stress, and that her love of playing a 17th century instrument called the viola de gamba helps her express herself.
Since her retirement from USGS in 2016, she has written a haunting classical music composition to translate alarming climate change data and what the Earth is experiencing. Dr Jones shares that the data she has reviewed on climate change is what keeps her up worried at night because it’s happening faster than scientists originally predicted.
She tells Giselle that earthquake preparedness won’t matter if we don’t have a planet. Additionally, in this new chapter of her life, she has opened a non-profit named the Dr Lucy Jones Center for Science and Society which aims to better connect communities and policy makers to the environmental science that impacts their life.