USDA announces two new Senior Scientists for Research and Development

WASHINGTON, DC – Two USDA Forest Service scientists recently attained the title of “Senior Scientist,” which is the highest level that a scientist within USDA can achieve. The position is equal in rank to members of the Senior Executive Service. The number of Senior Scientists across all USDA agencies is capped at 100.

Scientists achieve these appointments for their significant research accomplishments and their reputations as authorities in their respective fields.

Daniel Williams is a research social scientist with the Rocky Mountain Research Station. Based in Fort Collins, Colorado, he is acknowledged for his leadership and originality in studying human-landscape interactions, place-based conservation, and collaborations that govern large landscapes. His expertise in the field of environmental social science has drawn particular attention from the Forest Service as it endeavors to become a more deliberative, learning organization capable of adapting and thriving in a complex operating environment.

“My first supervisor in Forest Service Research was an extremely accomplished Senior Scientist who was generous with his support and advice,” Williams said. “Making the same grade reminds me of the role he played and what Isaac Newton famously said about seeing further by standing on the shoulders of giants. I can only hope my shoulders provide as worthy a perch for the next generation of scientists.”

Andrew “Sandy” Liebhold is a research entomologist with the Northern Research Station. Based in Morgantown, West Virginia, he is acknowledged for his pioneering work studying the population dynamics of invasive insects and using that knowledge as a basis for strategies to contain the spread of forest pests. Liebhold also is a global research leader, having played a key role in the International Union of Forest Research Organization and organizing several international research projects on biological invasions.

Liebhold has always loved nature and dreamed of working in the Forest Service as a boy, so his career represents a fulfillment of those aspirations. “I love being part of the agency and cherish its culture of conservation,” he said. “Achieving the Senior Scientist level gives me great pride. I feel lucky to have worked over the years with so many people devoted to the Forest Service and its mission.”

Forest Service Research and Development Deputy Chief Alexander Friend believes that Williams and Liebhold are welcome additions to the USDA cadre of Senior Scientists. “These promotions reflect their hard work and dedication to the Forest Service and their respective research communities,” he said. “Research is the foundation of everything we do in the Forest Service. Senior Scientists play a critical role in ensuring we have access to the best available science for all of our mission work.”


Daniel R. Williams. USDA Forest Service photo.

Andrew “Sandy” Liebhold. Photo courtesy of György Csóka, Hungarian Forest Research Institute.