How I Got to Where I Am
I always liked to discover new things. I liked finding a new kind of bug in my yard,
or finding a new path through the woods in my neighborhood. When my dad gave me a corner
in our basement for my own, I started building things: boxes, wheels, whatever I could
think of. Then I started to focus on what I liked best and what I seemed to be good at.
By the time I got to high school I knew I wanted to be a scientist. At North Carolina
State University I studied physics, then I went to the University of Rochester for a
Masters degree in engineering. NASA offered me my first real job and I learned how to
design space instruments. I was lucky enough to work on the Viking Mission, where I
helped design and build the cameras that would take the first close-up pictures of Mars.
I liked trying to explain the pictures and won a research contract with the Mars Data
Analysis program that moved me to JPL.
Likes/Dislikes About Job
I like building teams and getting them together to accomplish things. I like to find
mysteries and explain them. I really like being able to do field work when I go to
far-away places to compare them with what we see from space or what we find on other
planets. Mostly I enjoy knowing that I am part of a giant learning experience that just
keeps going. What I like the least is getting distracted from all the little things that
don't really matter. Sometimes I get surprised and find little things that really do
contribute to the experience after all.