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
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."