AW 18: Inspiration!


It’s time for the Accretionary Wedge! If you recall, this month’s topic is your inspiration to study geoscience.

It was really fun to read these. A lot of you guys started out loving science and even geology in particular as kids, and you just stuck with it. I admire that! Lots of others just fell into it, like I did.


Lockwood tells about his lifelong fascination with science, starting with a great book as a kid and continuing through school, with some encouragement by great teachers. He ended up in geology by process of elimination after some lousy biology and chemistry classes, and stayed there because of a great and engaging teacher. Bob Jamieson talks about his experiences with exposure to geoscience over the years — by seeing great local geology growing up, by taking science classes in high school, and by just little bits and pieces that added up to an interest in the subject.

Ian Stimson can’t sing, so he had the opportunity to sample some geology instead of singing in the choir. His coursework steered him into taking geology, which at first he thought was all right. And later realized was completely awesome, of course. John at Karmasotra says he just knew he wanted a job outside. He decided to add geology to his coursework after reading a book that made it sound cool, and took a class from a teacher who was a little out of date and still teaching continental drift! crazy!

Michael Welland at Through the Sandglass says he had an early interest in geology, found through family trips and great books. And he acknowledges that after being discouraged for a while, connections with the right people helped him get inspired again. Geology Happens reports that “in high school… I found that the landscapes I had been walking, climbing. biking and canoeing through had stories that could be teased out of the rock. It seemed that by following a few simple rules anyone could piece together this tale. I was hooked. What other field allowed me to be outside all the time and to do real science?”

Silver Fox at Looking for Detachment has a geologist for a father, which exposed her to the topic, but it wasn’t until that awesome intro class that she decided to give up on the history major and try out geology herself. Apparently Silver Fox and I are twins (except for the geologist father part).

Short Geologist planned to study archaeology, but decided after that terrific intro class that geology was an exciting alternative that actually might lead to a job. And Jim Lehane followed that childhood dream of digging up dinosaurs all the way through grad school! That’s almost up there with planning to be an astronaut and actually doing it. A Life-Long Scholar didn’t want to work, but enjoyed school, so she took classes at multiple universities without ever declaring a major. Once she learned that grad students get paid to continue in school, though, she found some direction, and wound up in geology because there wasn’t a single required class she didn’t want to take. “Six years of being a full-time University student, and I’d finally found the course I wished to study! Very little time elapsed from that moment until I’d applied and transferred to another University, in another state, and became a Geology Major.”

Anne Jefferson says in her guest post at Highly Allochthonous that she was first inspired to study geology for her high school science fair project because it was not related to the science her parents studied, and she was a little rebellious! Her project was about fracturing in a Wisconsin sandstone. Tuff Cookie always wanted to be a geologist, and the more she learned, the more she was sure about that. And playing with lava at Kilauea cemented her resolve to be a volcanologist.

Jim Repka realized he wanted his professor’s job on a great intro field trip, after years of trying to study geology without a lot of luck. It took a long time to get through school, but with luck and determination and good teachers along the way, he’s gotten to where he wants to be. Garry Hayes had interests in geologic things but little exposure to academic earth science before going to college. As he says, “It worked something like natural selection: I had the interest (crystals and fossils), and I had some of the basic skills (maps and compasses), I just hadn’t found the field in which the skills and interests would be useful. Once I entered the correct situation, those pre-adaptations allowed me to survive!”

Thanks for all of your submissions! Check in at the Accretionary Wedge for next month’s topic!

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