Dr. Doug Hammond

Dr. Doug Hammond is also currently a professor at the University of Southern California and currently teaches courses in the field of Geological Sciences.  He has an extensive background in researching and educating about the geochemical sciences as well as sedimentary chemistry and oceanographic chemistry.  He gained his Ph.D. in Geology while studying at Columbia University, and earned a B.A. in Chemistry as well as an M.S. in Geology during his time at the University of Rochester.  During this expedition he will be working with fellow investigators to determine sediment chemistry of the Gulf, as well as answer various inquiries regarding the role of Geranium isotopes in oceanic cycles of inorganic Ge and “to identify fundamental processes producing Ge isotope fractionation in marine systems.”   

Q: Have you always wanted to work in this field?  Was there a defining moment in school or your childhood that guided you in this direction?

A: As an undergraduate, I majored in chemistry, largely because I liked science, and this turned out to be the easiest path for me academically.  During the last semester in college, an oceanography class that was offered for the first time at my institution, and I took it.  It was the most exciting course I had had, because I suddenly had applications for the chemical principles I had learned.  As graduation approached, I decided this might be an interesting field to pursue, rather than going to work as an industrial chemist, locked up in a lab.  The instructor for the course invited me to stay for a MS degree in his group, and I was hooked.  As part of the training, I also needed to learn some geology, and a career in geochemistry was launched.

Q: What classes did you choose to take in HS? What were your majors   in undergrad/grad school?  Was there a favorite, least favorite?

A: While a freshman in high school, I took an earth science class, also one offered for the first time in our school.  Some units were interesting, particularly weather and climate, but I could not get very excited about the fine-grained limestones our teacher found in her backyard and brought in as illustrations of rocks.  I decided this field was not so interesting, and avoided all discussions of earth science until 7 years later in college.  It was only after I knew some chemistry, physics, biology and math that I recognized the excitement of applying these basic sciences to an integrated study of the earth.

Q: What bit of advice can you offer to our future scientists and explorers following on this blog?

 A: Look at the planet around you.  It is not static, but a dynamic system with rhythms and history recorded in its rocks.  With a bit of careful observation, you can decipher some of these.

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