Williams, S Jeffress [Jeff]

My most vivid memories are classes in the Geology Dept. with Profs Cotera and Parsons,  summer of ‘66 doing field geologic mapping in the Little Rocky Mtns. of Montana with Gus Cotera for my senior thesis, poring over rocks and minerals and fossils in the dingy basement, 8 am Saturday morning Physics class with Prof Ernie Pile, tray-snow sledding freshman year down the hill to meals, piles of snow on the ground on campus from November to late spring,  below  zero temps in the Phi Delt house group sleeping room, cloudy grey skies over Meadville most days in winter, and long hitch-hikes home for holiday break to Valley Forge, down rt 19 and east on the Pennsy Turnpike.

Education after Allegheny

After getting a BS degree in Geology at Allegheny, I attended Lehigh Un., was accepted in the PhD program and was awarded an MS degree in Geology in June 1969, after getting my draft notice in March. Since then over the years, I’ve taken classes and training in oceanography, coastal engineering, geophysics, and environmental sciences.


I married while in the Army at age 26, had 1 son, and had a generally satisfying marriage over the years. As sometimes happens to couples, however, over decades, we developed different interests and priorities. As a result, we divorced, but with minimal drama or complication. I was single for about 5 yrs until I moved to Falmouth and met Rebecca Upton. At age 55, I knew shortly after spending time with Rebecca that we were a good match with many interests in common and that I wanted to enjoy life together with her. We were a couple for a decade and finally married on Nantucket in 2010. She’s a wonderful woman and a great partner with many interests in common.

Where I’ve lived

While at Allegheny, I lived in Valley Forge, Pa. Afterward, I lived 2 yrs in Bethlehem, Pa. while at Lehigh Un. for grad school and then was drafted (1969) into the US Army for 3 yrs, stationed in the Washington, DC area. After discharge and starting my 1st job in 1971, I lived in Vienna, Va, except for a sabbatical at an Oceanographic Center, living in Taunton, England for 6 months. I lived in Vienna working at the USGS headquarters in Reston, Va until taking a job transfer to the USGS center in Woods Hole, Mass. in 2000 and moving to Falmouth.

My jobs

After graduation from Lehigh Un. graduate school, I was drafted into the Army and ultimately commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Corps of Engineers. For 2 years I was stationed at the Coastal Engineering Research Center in Wash., DC and Ft Belvoir. When discharged as a 1st Lieutenant in 1971, I accepted a civil service position as a research marine geology in the Coastal Geology Branch. In 1983, I accepted a senior research marine geologist position with the USGS in Reston, VA., ultimately appointed Director of the Survey’s Coastal and Marine Geology Program. This entailed managing a $42m budget and directing a variety of studies by some 250 staff at centers in Woods Hole, St Petersburg, and Santa Cruz. In 2000, I elected to exit management and return to doing coastal research, transferring to the research center in Woods Hole. Over the next decade, I conducted studies mapping coastal and seafloor geology, understanding climate change impacts on coasts such as sea level rise and storm effects, and studying ways to reduce coastal vulnerability and restore degraded beaches and wetlands due to both human activities and natural processes.

My children / grandchildren

I have 1 son, Derek,  who just turned 42 yrs old, is married and living in Kailua, HI, and 2 super grandkids, Aleya age 6 and Solen 9 yrs old.


After 40+ very satisfying years working as a research marine geologist with the US Geological Survey, I “officially” retired in 2010. Still having an interest in research, teaching and public service, I was appointed Senior Scientist Emeritus with the USGS Coastal Science Center in Woods Hole, MA; an Affiliate Faculty at the Un. Hawaii in the Geology & Geophysics Dept., and also established a consulting practice working on coastal and wetland topics.  

Current activities / hobbies

My interests include consulting/expert witness testimony (eg.  assessing impacts of the 2010 BP oil spill and cleanup on Louisiana beaches and wetlands), travel to historic and interesting places, reading (mostly non-fiction), writing and lectures on coastal and climate change topics, serving on committees and boards of local land trusts and environmental protection organizations, riding my electric-assist recumbent trike, exercise (mostly because I have MS disease and limited mobility), and  classic cars (own a ‘65 Chevelle SS & ‘87 Mercedes 560 SL) and car show events both on Cape Cod and in Hawaii. Cape Cod is a great home 8 months of the year but not so much for winter, so for 3-4 mos, we spend winters in Hawaii. Weather is mild and breezy and time with the grandkids is priceless.

My contact Info

Address:  24 Alder Ln., North Falmouth, Mass.
Phone:  508 563 6308

Kailua, Hawaii

Kailua, Hawaii