Congressional Science Fellowship
Hall of Fame
Chester F. "Skip" Watts
Chester F. "Skip" Watts has been selected as the 2001-2002 GSA-U.S. Geological Survey Congressional (USGS) Science Fellow. Watts is the Dalton Distinguished Professor of Geology at Radford University in Virginia, where he also serves as director of the Institute for Engineering Geosciences. His teaching has focused in recent years on engineering geology, advanced engineering geology, soil mechanics, and rock mechanics. He also enjoys teaching environmental geology, hydrogeology, computer applications in geology, geomorphology, and general geology. Watts received his bachelor's degree in geology from Virginia Tech in 1974, his master's degree in physical science from Radford University in 1977, and a doctorate in engineering geology from Purdue University in 1983.
Watts' research interests focus on the broad range of interaction between geologic processes and human activity. His studies range from groundwater resource and contamination to flooding and dam safety to landslides and ground stability. Watts is a certified professional geologist in the Commonwealth of Virginia and the author of ROCKPACK computer software, used internationally for analyzing the safety and stability of mountain slopes, mines, quarries, highways, buildings, and bridge foundations. He serves as a consultant to numerous state highway departments, federal agencies, and engineering firms throughout North America.
The Virginia Office of the Attorney General, the USGS, the U.S. Forest Service, and the Army Corps of Engineers are among those to have enlisted Watts' assistance. His projects have included Federal Emergency Management Administration studies in Hot Springs, Arkansas, evaluations of dam spillway stability adjacent to the San Andreas fault, rock fall and visitor safety at Natural Bridge National Historic Landmark in Virginia, wildfire rehabilitation in the Cascade Mountains of Washington, and rock-slide studies in Yosemite National Park in California.
Watts has received several regional and national teaching awards, including the 1998 State Council for Higher Education in Virginia's Outstanding Professor Award. He recently appeared in a television documentary called "Earth's Fury!" on TLC (The Learning Channel) and on National Public Radio while rock climbing during rock-slide investigations in Yosemite National Park.
Watts feels very honored to serve as the 2001-2002 GSA-USGS Congressional Science Fellow. "Many important geologic and environmental issues are rising to the political forefront. It is both exciting and educational to become a part of the public policy process," said Watts. He hopes to become involved in science and policy issues related to the environment, public works, and natural hazards and will continue the tradition of writing perspective articles for upcoming issues of GSA Today.