Tell us about your work / research. What kinds of things do you do?
I specialize in volcanoes and their products (lavas, pyroclastic materials) and am most familiar with those occurring in Mexico, where I live and work. Besides teaching, most of my work is related to the investigation of eruptive histories of different active volcanoes with the aim of establishing how they work and which types of eruptions are most likely to occur in the future. In practical terms, with this information, it is possible to make volcanic hazard maps depicting areas that would be at risk in case of renewed volcanic activity. Such maps can be useful to civil protection authorities and other government officials wishing to develop hazard mitigation strategies and economic development plans.
What sparked your initial interest in your career?
I studied geology because it requires fieldwork and I enjoyed exploring the outdoors. Early in my studies, I participated in a field trip to southern Italy, where we visited several famous volcanoes, including Etna, which was erupting at the time. This experience left a deep and long-lasting impression on me and I decided later to specialize on volcanoes.
Who influenced you or encouraged you the most?
I was interested to such an extent in volcanoes that I did not need much encouragement to carry on, but I was lucky to find great teachers who were equally enthusiastic and willing to share their experience and knowledge.
What element of your work / study do you think is the most fascinating?
My work is driven by curiosity and I feel fascinated whenever I discover something that is new to me, either while doing field work or just reading a paper.
What other jobs led you to your current career?
When I was a student, I had many jobs ranging from the blue-collar worker at a computer-chip factory to a simultaneous job as a translator in business, to a helper on drillings for water wells, etc. I disliked all of them to different degrees and was forced to think what I really wanted to do in life.
What are your degrees and certifications?
Degree in Geology (University of Tübingen, Germany), Ph.D. in Geology (Arizona State University, USA)
What are your hobbies?
Watching movies, wildlife, people. Reading novels, history, archaeology.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to have a career like yours?
Examine yourself and ask whether you will have continuous deep curiosity in the subject of your interest. With some common sense and luck, the rest will fall into place.
How did you get involved with the Nautilus Exploration Program? How did you get on the ship?
Prof. Steven Carey contacted me and asked whether I was interested in having a closer look at a submarine eruption vent off Socorro island, which I had witnessed erupting more than 20 years ago. I immediately said: Yes!