John Clague

I was educated in Los Angeles (B.A. degree), Berkeley (M.A. degree), and Vancouver (Ph.D. degree). I am a currently a Professor in the Department of Earth Sciences at Simon Fraser University (SFU). Prior to my appointment at SFU in 1998, I was a Research Scientist employed by the Geological Survey of Canada. I am passionate about earth sciences - I view what I do as a "calling", rather than a 9-to-5 job. I am a scientific "detective" trying to reconstruct the history of planet Earth. My main interests are Ice Ages and hazardous processes, including earthquakes, tsunami, floods, and landslides. Currently, my graduate students and I are conducting research in Alaska, Yukon, British Columbia, Bolivia, and New Zealand, some of the most beautiful places in the world. My other main professional interest is public education, specifically, telling people about the importance of Earth science to their lives. I am a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and former President of the Geological Association of Canada. I am the recipient of several awards and my research is widely featured on television, radio, and in newspapers. I love what I am doing - it's the best job in the world! I get to travel, meet and work with lots of interesting people, and work towards solving important problems; and I'm paid well to do these things. Who could ask for more?

Q: What is the title of your job and what do you do?

A: Professor. I teach earth sciences to undergraduate and graduate students and conduct geological research

Q: Who do you work for, and where are you based?

A: Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, BC

Q: What kind of hours/shifts do you work?

A: I don't have a job; I have an avocation for which I am generously compensated. My "job" is a big part of "me".

Q: Where do you work?

A: In an office, and in the field (both in Canada and overseas)

Q: What equipment/machinery do you use?

A: Geophysical and surveying equipment, helicopters, float planes, backhoes, computers

Q: What education or training is required for your job?

A: PhD in geology

Q: What kind of personal traits do you recommend for this profession?

A: Strong work ethic, love of outdoors, good communication and quantitative skills, good imagination

Q: What is the salary range of your job?

A: $120,000/yr (Professor)

Q: What do you like best about your job?

A: The people I meet and work with, field work, travel

Q: What are the advantages?

A: Travel, freedom (university jobs offer tremendous freedom), complex problem solving

Q: What are the advancement opportunities for this career?

A: Lots of opportunities to advance and to move into new jobs

Q: How physically demanding is your job?

A: I work in high mountains, which requires good physical fitness

Q: Why did you choose this career?

A: Took a university course in geology and decided this was my passion.

Q: What is your most memorable moment/event/place related to your experience as an Earth scientist?

A: Seeing a "Moon bow" produced by a waterfall in Yosemite Valley, California at night under a full moon

Q: What is your advice to newcomers?

A: Earth science offers wonderful career opportunities, but you must be passionate about it and work very hard. It is not a career for the "faint of heart".

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