Alumni Updates - 1970s

Alan O. Allwardt (B.S., 1974; M.S., 1979; Ph.D., 1990)  received a master's degree from the SJSU School of Library and Information Science in 2003 and now works as an information specialist for the USGS Coastal and Marine Geology Program in Santa Cruz, California.

Robert Aston (M.S., 1974)  I was one of Gary Grigg's grad students. We tried to forge an oceanographer major well before UCSC offered any marine studies. I have gone on to start a company here in Santa Cruz that designs and manufacturers underwater video cameras that are controlled over the Internet. I sell to research, conservation and education organizations around the world.

Tom Bertucci (B.S., 1977) Although I thoroughly enjoyed my time at Santa Cruz and have a continuing interest in our planet, my career took a turn to engineering when I moved to Seattle in 1978 soon after graduating. I am a bridge engineer with the Washington State Dept. of Transportation, Ferries Division. As a result my main earth science related interests are foundations and the seismic design of marine structures. However, I still enjoying exploring the mountains and waters up here and reading about the latest advances in earth science. In fact I am currently reading John McPhee’s Assembling California, in which, just two days ago I came across your name(!), when he mentions your research on ophiolites in Indonesia. And just a few months ago, I discovered that a colleague in WSDOT’s Geotechnical Branch with whom I work closely is Pete Palmerson, who also graduated from the department, a number of years after I did.

Kevin Biddle (B.S., 1973)  I am currently the Exploration Director of ExxonMobil International Limited, located in London. I am slowly headed for retirement in Taos New Mexico, but it looks like it will take me a couple of
years to get there.

Nancy (Benson) Brewster (B.S., 1973)  I just finished (like 3 weeks ago) my master's in geology, emphasis in vertebrate paleo. I worked on an 80 my old Mosasaur from NW Kansas; had a great time, though it feels pretty good to be done and to have my life back. Still living in Midland, TX. Looking for a teaching job in a community college or university. Found I loved teaching Geology when I was teaching it at Midland College. Hate state budget cuts like all get-out, but understand that they do have to happen sometimes. Hope all goes well at the department. Have 3 kids, one about to graduate from LSU, one about to graduate from OU, and one in Eugene OR working as a webmaster and graphic designer for a magazine. They are all neat people, and I am proud to be their mom.

Richard Fink  (B.S., 1976)  After leaving UCSC, I joined Conservation Div. of the USGS in Anchorage for a year helping interpret and plot off shore oil lease sale geophysical data for Lower Cook Inlet. It was fun because I was able to assist with high resolution sparker, side scan sonar, etc. for assessing geohazards for pipelines or oil rigs. After a year though, I went back to get my Masters in Geology at Mackey School of Mines at the University of Nevada Reno where I worked with Bert Slemmons on faulting in the Owens Valley. After graduating, I have worked the past 34 years in the geotechnical/environmental (hazardous) industry, the first 7 years till 1986 with SEA Engineers in Reno doing geotech work then from then till present with Kleinfelder, Inc., primarily doing environmental assessment work and site remediation projects. I have been in the Fresno office of Kleinfelder since 1990. I am also the current chair of the San Joaquin Valley chapter of the Sacramento Section of AEG.

Genevieve Fire (B.S., 1979)  After graduating from UCSC, Genevieve went on to earn an M.S. in Civil Engineering from UC Davis and is a California registered Professional Civil Engineer. She has worked extensively for municipalities in Northern California and is currently employed by the City of Mountain View Public Works Department. In addition, as the owner of her own company, she consults with other local public agencies, specializing in storm water quality management. She lives in Los Altos and is married with two children (one studying civil engineering at UCB and the other a junior in high school). When not working or kidwrangling, she enjoys bicycling (yes, still, after 40 years), playing viola in two amateur string quartets, gardening, and traveling.

Fraser Goff (Ph.D., 1977)  Fraser worked 26 years on geothermal, volcanology, environmental, and drilling projects at Los Alamos National Laboratory, New Mexico and retired in 2004. Fraser became Fellow of the Geological Society of America (1990) and Adjunct Professor in the Earth and Space Sciences Dept, University of New Mexico (1992). He now provides contract geologic maps for the New Mexico Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources and operates a small geologic consulting business. Fraser recently published a book on Valles Caldera - A Geologic History (UNM Press, 114 p., 2009). He and wife Cathy have 4 children and 4 grandchildren. They alternately reside in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii and Los Alamos, New Mexico.

Richard Gordon (B.A., 1975)  I'm (still) at Rice University, still doing research in global tectonics including paleomagnetism (mainly marine magnetics), tectonophysics (lithosphere deformation and plate motions), and geodesy. I recently assumed the duties of department chair at Rice (1st time at Rice, but long since I was department chair at Northwestern). I am also in my 2nd year as President-Elect of the Geomagnetism and Paleomagnetism section of AGU. In the non-work, non-science category, I took up the trumpet a few years ago after not having played a brass instrument since high school, and have been playing in a couple of Rice jazz bands (a big band and a smaller lab band) and in the Houston Concert Band (a community band).

Ken Johnson (B.S., 1978)  I am currently working at the engineering design firm Parsons Brinckerhoff in San Francisco and am the Geotechnical Discipline Lead for the final design and construction for the Central Subway project here in San Francisco. The project is being built by the SF Municipal Transportation Agency, and constitutes Phase 2 of the Third Street Light Rail Project. How did I get here from UCSC? When I finished up in December 1978 I worked for Gerry Weber for a short time before being hired at the USGS (Marine Geology Division) in July 1979 where I worked for 2+ years in the Gulf of Alaska and Bering Sea. Following that I spent 5 years earning a MS and PhD in Civil Engineering and Geological Engineering at UC Berkeley. Upon graduation in 1987 I began working for an engineering and geological consulting company called Geomatrix in San Francisco for 11 years, moving then to another consulting firm called MFG, Inc. for 6 years. At this point I was offered a Lecturer Position at UCB where for 5 years I taught ”Introduction to Engineering Geology” to civil engineering undergrads , impressing upon them the critical importance of accounting for all things geological in any engineering project. After engaging classes of 60-80 students through this period I was offered the opportunity to work on the Central Subway, and that is where I am today.

Bruce Lymburn (B.A., 1979): I’m chief legal counsel for Clif Bar & Company, the energy bar and organic foods company. I’ve held this job for seven years. Not exactly a career in earth sciences, but no doubt that my UCSC education helped develop my analytical thinking and an appreciation for global environmental issues.

Greg McNair (B.A., 1977): Happily married retired 60 year old VW guru & slum lord that loves racing VWs & lives in Salinas.

Ronny Miyaoka (B.S., 1979): Now in my 21st year teaching math and science after having spent 13 years working as a geologist with the U.S. Geological Survey, Branch of Alaskan Geology. Currently I’m teaching geology, astronomy, and earth science at Robert Service High School in Anchorage. Son, Neil, junior at Boise State (engineering), daughter, Jessica, just graduated college and is working in the DNA section at the Alaska State Crime Lab.

Frank Perry (B.A., 1977)  I continue to work for various nonprofit organizations involved with the natural sciences and cultural history of the central California coastal region. I have also been collaborating with other scientists in an effort to share research I did many years ago on the Neogene Purisima Formation, including coauthoring an article in 2011 for the journal Palaios about fossil bite marks on fur seal bones. I serve as president of the Friends of the Cowell Lime Works Historic District, which is restoring some of the historic buildings and lime kilns on the UCSC campus (

Steve Rowland (Ph.D., 1978)  Greetings from the margin of the Paleozoic craton. I've been on the faculty at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas since graduating from UCSC. My research has drifted from the paleontology of Cambrian reefs into studies of Jurassic trackways and Pleistocene mammals. Also, inspired by Leo's work in the history of geology, I have just completed the translation of a book by eighteenth-century Russian scholar MIkhail Lomonosov, to be published as a GSA Special Paper.

Larry Smith (B.S., 1977)  My relatively new information is that I changed jobs here at Montana Tech of the University of Montana, and started teaching in the Department of Geological Engineering in 2009. I had been a research geologist at the Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology (the state geologic survey – a department of Montana Tech) for 16 years. So, after doing Quaternary geology, regional stratigraphy, and surface and subsurface mapping as part of a state-wide groundwater mapping program, I began a teaching career in my mid-50s. I bill myself as the oldest Assistant Professor on campus. I’m the soft-rock person in a five-member department, parlaying my graduate work at the University of New Mexico and my five years as an exploration geologist for Shell in Houston, in teaching our undergrads, a few M.S. students, and a lot of Petroleum Engineering students why geology is important. I still remember the great teaching by Casey Moore, Jim Gill, Ken Cameron, yourself, and Bob Garrison, and try to be as energetic as they were then. I also remember the great teaching by grad and undergrad students at UCSC, especially Betsy Beyer (now Beaumont?), Parke Snavely, Penny (now Bowen), and Allison Till (leading by example).

Jon Spencer (B.S., 1977)  It has been 35 years since I took your (and Casey Moore’s) circum-Pacific tectonics seminar. That was one of the academic highlights of my time as an undergraduate, and the time when I began to develop a passion for extensional tectonics, a passion that continues to this day. After receiving a Ph.D. in geology from MIT in 1981, and doing a one year post-doc at the USGS in Menlo Park, I have spent the past 29 years working for the Arizona Geological Survey, where I am now Senior Geologist. For most of my time I work on the STATEMAP program, which is a component of the National Geologic Mapping Act of 1992. Through this program, the Arizona Geological Survey has received over $3 million over the past 18 years, all of it used for geologic mapping. I have had the good fortune of being able to do geologic mapping every year now for the past 32 years, as well as participate in related studies of the structure, tectonics, and ore deposits of the Mojave-Sonora Desert region of southern and western Arizona (I don’t do field work in the summer – way too hot!). My wife and I live in Tucson, and have two grown children, one of whom went to UCSC for two years.

Lisa Wright (B.S., 1977)  I have spent the last 13 years working for ConocoPhillips as a development geologist for reservoirs on Alaska's North Slope. I spent several years working on various aspects of the giant Kuparuk oil field, which has produced more than 2.2 billion barrels of oil from more than 1100 wells. These lower shoreface and shallow marine sands form stratigraphically separated reservoirs that are frequently juxtaposed by significant faulting (over 7,000 individually mapped faults). I have prospected and drilled development and field delineation wells, in addition to studying biodegradation and oil geochemistry. About 3 years ago I became the development geologist for the Tarn and Meltwater fields, which are smaller satellite fields of Kuparuk. These are slope turbidite reservoirs with unusual mineralogy and thinly bed pay. My team is now using horizontal wells with multi-stage fracs to access distal reservoir sands with permeabilities of 0.5-1 mD. This is not really a resource play, but it's not a typical North Slope development, either. Working Alaska has given me a fascinating career, with rapidly developing technology opening new challenges all the time, plus I've gotten to live, raise a family, and play in a truly wonderful place.