My father was a huge influence on my professional development. Even though it took me a long time (until my mid-30's) to figure out what I really wanted to do. He was a forest ranger in the Sierra Mountains and then a Soil Science technician at UC Riverside. He took my brothers and I camping and out to his field sites where he was conducting experiments quite a lot. Growing up in California (1, see map), there is a lot of opportunity to be exposed to some great and varied nature. He definitely instilled a love of nature and science even if I didn't know it when I was younger.
A Long Road
This is a map of places where I have lived (numbers) because of work and where I have done field work (black ovals). I have had the good fortune to have traveled, lived, and worked all over the US. It has enriched my life and made me a better scientist. I guess this is why it has always felt like a long road finding the career that I feel passionate about.
After finishing my BS (Environmental Science) and first MS (Soil Science), I took my degrees on the road to Pendleton, OR (2, map) as a Physical Science Technician with the USDA. After a year of that, I took my first consulting job in Wall, NJ (3, map). I moved back to California for more consulting experience (1, map). I was exposed to a wide variety of water related fieldwork that included drilling, coring, well construction, remedial feasibility testing, logging, and sampling. It was an amazing experience, but I was on the road constantly doing fieldwork. After several years of this work, I decided to do something different....go back to school in my mid 30's.
I got my Geology MS degree in 2006 from Georgia State University (4, map) while doing my thesis fieldwork at Glacier National Park in Montana. In 2010, I finished my Ph.D. from the University of Arizona (5, map). I spend several summers in New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Ontario Canada doing fieldwork for my dissertation. I was so happy that my parents could make it to my graduation. My dad was in a great deal of pain, but he insisted in being there. I remember seeing him stand and yell for me as they called my name. It was a very special moment to see him so proud.
I took a post doctoral position at Duke University, which ment that I was in a panic to finish my dissertation ahead of time. I remember turning in my complete dissertation to the University of Arizona and hitting the road to Raleigh/Durham, NC the next day (6, map). At Duke, I started working on sampling shallow groundwater at peoples homes that are close to oil/gas operations and hydraulic fracturing. This was a natural extension of my dissertation work and a big part of my research ever since.
After one year at Duke, I landed meaningful Employment in California (1, map)!
Though I dislike the administrative part of my work, I find a great deal of reward in working with students, doing research, and teaching.
When I think about what it took to get me to this point in my life, it definitely felt like it was a long road. Im grateful to my dad and family, and all the people that provided inspiration, help, and an occasional kick in the butt. A friend of mine drew me as a geology superhero as a gift for my graduation. Though I hardly see myself as a superhero, it's perhaps a nice goal.........to be a better self....do good for others....
The road keeps going!