How I Got Here
When I arrived at the University of Southern California in 1977 for graduate school,
I wrote a letter to Bruce Murray, who was at the time the director of JPL. I indicated my
interest in planetary science and he was kind enough to ask Roger Phillips to invite me
to visit JPL and talk with the staff. As a result of that visit, I went to work for Steve
Saunders and began mapping tectonic features in the Tharsis region of Mars. I gave up a
summer job with Exxon to work at JPLin the summer of 1977, and now 20 years later I'm
During my graduate school career I worked at JPL doing planetary research and at USC
doing geophysical research. My dissertation topic was a gravity and magnetic study of the
Tehachapi Mountains of southern California to study the crustal structure of the region.
When I finished my Ph. D. I went to work at the U.S. Geological Survey in Flagstaff for a
few years as a postdoc and then returned to JPL. While still a member of JPL staff, I did
two stints at NASA Headquarters in Washington DC, running research programs and
coordinating the programmatic aspects of Mars exploration.