Dr. Martin Jeffries, Research Professor of Geophysics,
University of Alaska, Fairbanks, Alaska.
not working, Dr. Jeffries looks forward every week to the
delivery of the "Guardian Weekly" newspaper, which,
together with the "Guardian Unlimited" online, allows
him to keep abreast of World and UK (United Kingdom) news.
Give him a British newspaper and he will always turn to the
sports pages for the cricket and football (soccer) scores.
He enjoys reading fiction and non-fiction, when he can find
the time. He likes biographies and history, contemporary
fiction and mysteries and thrillers. Only occasionally does
he read popular science books. He collects stamps, particularly
polar stamps and those of Great Britain.
Why are you a scientist?
I am a scientist because I was fortunate to be influenced
by certain teachers who helped me realise where I could best
apply my curiosity about the natural world. I sometimes joke
that I am an "accidental geophysicist" because
my entire university education has been in Geography. Geography
is a science and I owe my abiding interest in it and related
sciences (geology, geophysics) to Mr. David
Levy, a geography teacher, who made the subject so interesting
to me when I was a13 year old student at Sale Boys Grammar
School, England. As an undergraduate at the University of
Sheffield, England, a class on glaciers and landscape
by Professor Ron Waters helped me decide that studying ice
and snow was what I wanted to do for a living.
What is science?
Science is systematic inquiry into natural phenomena
and processes. We attempt to add to our knowledge and
improve our understanding through observation, measurement
and experimentation in the laboratory, in the field
and on the computer. We use reproducible data
to establish verifiable facts that allow us to predict
how nature works and might change.
What skills and qualities are necessary in order to be
Curiosity. A willingness to learn, to teach and to be taught
(learning is a lifelong activity and you dont have to
do it entirely on your own). Patience and perseverance.
Flexibility and quick-thinking. Be able to respond
to rapidly changing events. An ability to improvise. Good
communications skills (writing and speaking). Being able to
communicate with non-scientists as well as scientists.
What is most enjoyable about your job?
Above all I enjoy actually doing the science. For me, there
is nothing more pleasurable than being outside making measurements,
obtaining data, then returning to the office and entering
the data into the computer, analyzing and interpreting them,
trying to make sense of what we have observed and measured.
Also, I enjoy having a paper accepted for publication, and
a proposal accepted for a grant. I also enjoy working with
K-12 teachers and seeing them gain a new appreciation for
snow and ice.
What frustrations do you face with your job?
I wish I could "do science" all the time, but its
not possible. There are many other responsibilities that go
along with being a scientist. For example, I get no pleasure
out of writing research proposals, although it is a very important
activity, since new grants are vital for maintaining
ones research programs and continuing to be a scientist.
to Meet the Scientists
The bold words that are on this page are words that
are in the glossary. You can find their meanings below.
If you want to see the whole glossary, click
belonging to the present time; current; modern
a collection of measurements or observations
the process of running tests, trials, and experiments
the ability to adapt to changes
the science that studies the physical properties of the Earth
and how it has changed over time. To do this, some scientists
study rocks on Earth, and other scientists study other planets.
a person who studies some part of the Earth and its systems
snowfall that has increased over many years to form a mass
money for a specific research purpose
patience, continuing a task or course of action
happenings or facts that can be seen or known through the
series of actions that produce something; a series of changes
able to copy or duplicate; able to produce another time
an organized process of looking for correct information or
can be proved