Photo taken by Michael Milstein, Billings Gazette

Jack Farmer
Ames Research Center
Moffett Field, California

My Career Journey

The week before I started college I sat down with my dad to talk about my plans. He suggested I should choose a major before leaving for school and that it should be something I really enjoyed. I distinctly remember him saying: "You know son, whatever you choose, you will have to be doing that everyday for the rest of your life, so you'd better enjoy it!" It is possible to make career changes later on in life, but basically I think my dad's advice was pretty much right on! When I asked my dad what he thought I would be good at, he said: "Ever since I can remember, you have been interested in rocks. You and your mom wouldn't let me go past a riverbed without stopping during our drives in the country. You have an uncle who used to work with rocks...I think he called himself a geologist."

So the next week I headed off to school to meet with my counselor and asked if she knew about a major for geologists. She said yes, so I declared my major the first semester and never looked back. I've never regretted my decision. Geology is so broad and interdisciplinary; I've moved around a lot within the field during my career. I started out in volcanology, moved to geochemistry for awhile, then to statistics, on to paleontology, and am now working in planetary science. Interesting thing is, I continue to use most all of that background, even in the work I'm doing now!

According to my mother, I collected my first rock when I was six years old. By the time I was 10, my collection was so big I had to give a lot of rocks away when we moved. My mom encouraged me by providing empty egg cartons for storing my samples, and by helping me identify my rocks, minerals and fossils. She even bought me my first geology book, "How to Know the Rocks and Minerals" and took me to my first geology meeting, a giant rock and minerals show in Los Angeles. In short, I was hooked early! My nickname in high school was "Stoney."

Back to BIOgraphies Menu Jack Farmer's Biography    1     2     3    4    5