Growing up in the small rural community of Prescott, WA, just 20 miles north of Walla Walla, I was a bit naïve in regard to academic pursuits available to a student such as myself, interested in all sciences to which I had been exposed. A chance reading of an available scholarship to study geophysics, a field I quite honestly had never heard of, set me on a most rewarding path. After earning BS and MS degrees in geophysics at Western Washington and Stanford University, I entered the petroleum industry during the “oil-embargo years” of the 1970s. A few years, and most of the major oil industry cities of the US later, I realized that I really wanted to apply my geophysics in a more academic/research manner. That landed me at the USGS, where I spent 17 years studying the geologic evolution of the Arctic Ocean basin. One of my career highlights occurred in 1994 when I was part of a research team aboard the United States Coast Guard Cutter Polar Sea, the first US ship to reach the North Pole.
During my years as a research geophysicist with the USGS I relocated back to eastern Washington, where I spent 10 years dividing my time between geophysics and farming (wine grapes and sheep). It was at this time when Whitman College geology professor Bob Carson offered me the opportunity to teach. With a few years of oil industry experience and number of years in Arctic research, teaching provided a whole new realm in which to continue my passion for the sciences. By the mid 1990s I had shifted my primary career focus away from research toward teaching. Currently, I teach physics, geology, astronomy, and climate science at Walla Walla Community College, as well as occasional adjunct appointments here at Whitman College geology department.