Taxonomy term

down to earth with

Down to Earth With: Fossil preparator Bob Masek

When paleontologists unearth a fossil and rock still entombs part of it, they take it to someone like fossil preparator Bob Masek, who cleans and prepares the fossil for scientific study, and sometimes for display in a museum. In the 1990s, Masek helped prepare “Sue,” the most complete Tyrannosaurus rex fossil ever discovered, which now stands in Chicago’s Field Museum of Natural History.

 
30 Sep 2016

Down to Earth With: National Park Service Geologic Resources Division chief David Steensen

When David Steensen started working in Redwood National Park in 1986, he did not think he’d be working for the National Park Service for more than a few years. He had been hired into a four-year fixed-term position to help restore the local watershed from the destabilizing effects of logging that occurred prior to the park’s establishment, and he knew that the park service rarely hired geologists into permanent positions.

05 Aug 2016

Down to Earth With: Planetary scientist Steven Squyres

By age 6, Steven Squyres already considered himself a scientist, and, with his father’s help, would conduct rudimentary experiments with a chemistry kit. By the time he was 10, he had become fascinated by meteorology and erected a weather station in his backyard. He vividly remembers building an anemometer out of funnels, and realizing that his device would need to be calibrated in order to accurately measure wind speed. So, he asked his father to drive the family car up and down their street. While perplexed neighbors looked on, Squyres excitedly hung the instrument out the window, shouting to his dad to drive 5 miles per hour as he counted how many times the kitchen funnels spun around. Next, Squyres asked his dad to drive 10 miles per hour, and then even faster, repeating his counts at each speed until the calibration was complete.

28 Jun 2016

Down to Earth With: Solar physicist Thomas Berger

Growing up in California during the Space Race, Thomas Berger was fascinated with aeronautics and aviation, so when he arrived at the University of California at Berkeley, physics seemed like the natural choice. After graduating with a degree in engineering physics, Berger took a job with Lockheed Aircraft in Burbank. But he soon decided it was not for him and returned to graduate school at Stanford, where he discovered a new passion: solar physics.

09 May 2016

Down to Earth With: Ethnogeologist Steven Semken

As a boy growing up in New Jersey, Steven Semken was fascinated by rocks and minerals. His father, a banker, and his mother, a municipal tax collector, loved to travel and frequently indulged their son’s yen for sparkling specimens. They also bought Semken numerous books about geography and geology, including “The Big Golden Book of Geology,” which made such an impression that his childhood copy still sits on his office shelf. Semken vividly remembers staring at the book’s picture of Ship Rock, a towering volcanic neck on the Navajo Nation in northwestern New Mexico. Little did he know that he would later spend 15 years living and teaching geology with that Ship Rock as a backdrop.

06 May 2016

Down to Earth With: Tectonicist Eldridge Moores

When Eldridge Moores was 10 years old, his family lived in Crown King, Ariz., a tiny, remote mining settlement high in the rugged Yavapai Mountains northwest of Phoenix. Money was tight and his family rarely traveled, so Moores vividly remembers a holiday road trip to visit his father’s relatives near San Francisco. The Bay Area left a deep impression on Moores, and, at the end of the journey, upon reaching the first of four switchbacks on the narrow dirt track that led up to Crown King, Moores vehemently pronounced that he would do everything he could to get out of there.

15 Apr 2016

Down to Earth With: Glaciologist Ted Scambos

As a young boy, Ted Scambos was fascinated by space and technology, and spent many hours watching aircraft take off and land at the Air Force bases where his father, a pilot, was stationed. For his birthday or Christmas, he says he would often ask for a new telescope or a book about the planets. By sixth grade, Scambos had decided to become an astronomer. But by high school, his attention shifted from outer space to chemistry, and he set up an elaborate chemistry set in his parents’ basement. As Scambos’ interests evolved, he gradually realized that although astronomy and chemistry were both very hands-on disciplines at first, the deeper he delved, the more esoteric they became. Instead, he found himself drawn to geology, especially after discovering how much he enjoyed fieldwork.

11 Mar 2016

Down to Earth With: Yosemite's first park geologist Greg Stock

As a child growing up in the foothills of California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains, Greg Stock and his family took frequent trips to Yosemite National Park. One of his first memories is of hearing and seeing a giant rockfall tumble down the face of El Capitán. Today, Stock studies such rockfalls and how they impact safety in the area as the first park geologist employed at Yosemite. 
 
09 Feb 2016

Down to Earth With: GEO Secretariat Director Barbara Ryan

When Barbara Ryan enrolled as a freshman at the State University of New York in Cortland, she enjoyed athletics so much that she planned to pursue a career in physical education and coaching. Then her roommate convinced her to take a class in paleontology. She was hooked, and within months Ryan changed her major to geology, launching herself down an entirely different path. 
 
18 Dec 2015

Down to Earth With: Paleobiologist Nigel Hughes

I first met Nigel Hughes, a paleobiologist at the University of California at Riverside (UCR), in 2010. He took me on a brisk walk through the UCR Botanical Gardens, where the trees kept us cool in the hot Southern California sun while he told me all about trilobites. 
 
03 Dec 2015

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