Congressional Science Fellowship
Hall of Fame
Maria Honeycutt was named the GSA–U.S. Geological Survey Congressional Science Fellow for 2007–2008. With a research background in coastal geologic processes and consulting experience in hazard identification and mitigation, Honeycutt was eager to get to work on policy initiatives for a broad range of earth and ocean science-related issues. “It is a tremendous honor to have been selected by GSA and the USGS for the Fellowship, and I feel fortunate to be able to serve during such an interesting and challenging time on Capitol Hill.”
Honeycutt earned a B.A. in geology with high honors from Smith College in 1995, and M.S. (1997) and Ph.D. (2003) degrees in oceanography from the University of Delaware’s College of Marine and Earth Studies. Honeycutt spent 1998 as a Knauss National Sea Grant Marine Policy Fellow embedded in the Mitigation Directorate at Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Headquarters in Washington, D.C. At FEMA, she was involved in diverse projects ranging from post-hurricane building damage assessments to a review of pilot mapping projects completed under FEMA’s congressionally mandated Evaluation of Coastal Erosion Hazards Study. Her work on this study shaped many of the goals for her dissertation research, which focused on quantifying the impacts of the antecedent geologic framework and storms on long-term spatial and temporal patterns of shoreline change along the Atlantic coast of Delaware.
For nearly three years, Honeycutt was employed as a principal geologist with URS Corporation in Maryland, and spent most of the preceding four years with another engineering firm, PBS&J. At URS, Honeycutt led efforts to develop advisory coastal flood recovery maps for the Gulf Coast in the wake of hurricanes Ivan, Katrina, and Rita. “In a matter of a few weeks or months after a severe storm, maps are generated to provide state and local officials with up-to-date flood-risk data to use during the recovery process. I saw first-hand the challenges and hardships created if we, as scientists and engineers, fail to issue reliable data in a timely way to support decision-making.” Honeycutt is currently leading analyses of storm-induced erosion, overland surge and wave modeling, and floodplain mapping for the Mississippi coast as part of a follow-up study. Honeycutt also served as the co-chair of the Coastal Issues Policy Committee for the Association of State Floodplain Managers and is professionally registered as a certified floodplain manager.
Hazards are likely to remain a hot topic on Capitol Hill, and Honeycutt is looking forward to immersing herself in many of the other scientific topics that have captured Congress’ interest as well. “The impacts of 2004 and 2005 hurricanes on the environment, as well as on our society and economy, brought some needed attention to a wide range of natural resource management issues. Climate change has been a focus of the 110th Congress, and progress is being made on ocean governance, fisheries, and coastal habitat protection. Energy, offshore resources, water quality and quantity are also critical policy areas for the nation. The opportunities are truly endless.”