Born 2 February 1960, Westchester, California. Married with two stepchildren. United States citizen.
B.Sc., Geology, 1985, Humboldt State University, California, USA
Ph.D., Geological Sciences, 1991, University of Oregon, USA. Thesis title: Petrologic Studies of Primitive Alumina-rich Basaltic Magmas: An Experimental, Geochemical, and Tectonic Investigation
2009-present. Manager, Astromaterials Research Office, Astromaterials Research and Exploration Science (ARES), NASA Johnson Space Center
2002-2009. Senior Research Scientist III, Institute of Meteoritics, University of New Mexico
1999-2002. Project director/faculty, ARES, NASA Johnson Space Center (in association with Texas Southern University Department of Chemistry)
1997-1998. Research Associate, Department of Geosciences, University of Texas at Dallas
1994-1997. Macquarie University Research Fellow, School of Earth Sciences, Macquarie University (with Dr. Trevor H. Green)
1992-1994. Postdoctoral Research Associate, Department of Geology, University of Bristol (with Dr. Michael R. Carroll)
1989-1992. Research Assistant, Department of Geological Sciences, University of Oregon (with Dr. A. Dana Johnston)
1987-1989. Graduate Teaching Fellow, Department of Geological Sciences, University of Oregon
1988. Visiting Instructor, Summer Field Camp, University of Oregon
Mineralogical Society of America, 1990-present
American Geophysical Union, 1988-present
Geochemical Society, 2002-present
Geological Society of America, 1984-1987
Study of planetary interiors, primarily Earth, Moon, and Mars
Primitive mantle-derived liquids on terrestrial planets
Incompatible trace element partitioning between garnet and silicate liquids
Experimental petrologic investigations of subduction- and plume-related basaltic magmas
Upper mantle xenoliths and mantle-metasomatic liquids
Integration of tectonic and magmatic history of western North America
Experimental study of volatiles in magmatic systems (noble gases, CO2, H2O)
I was born on 2 February 1960--Groundhog's Day. If that sounds auspicious, you're right. My mother Rita Mae, who was almost 37 years old at the time, was overjoyed at my birth. This is not surprising, because owing to complications during the pregnancy, she had been very ill and in bed for several months beforehand. My birth meant that this ordeal was finally at an end.
1961. My earliest memory
I entered a family already thickly populated with three sisters and a brother. My brother was also glad to see me--he'd threatened to leave home if yet another sister was brought into the house. I am six years younger than my nearest sister, Michelle, who is in turn 4 years younger than the next sister, Julianne. My brother Scott is next, another year older, and finally we have Kathleen one more year older still. You might wonder that I am so far behind all the other siblings. Yes, I was not planned. In fact, I am a mathematical impossibility. My mother, a devout Catholic, was practicing the Rhythm Method, and I'm here to tell you that it is not foolproof. Maybe she should have done something besides just practice...
In any case, my early years were spent at the family home at 5239 Glasgow Way, Westchester, California, a suburb of Los Angeles. My father, Harry, worked for Hughes Aircraft Co. in various administrative capacities, and my Mom stayed home and handled the brood in typical 50s-60s nuclear family style. I am exceedingly fortunate in that my family underwent few major upheavals during these years, which, as history records, were times of turbulence. We had our ups and downs, but we've always had pretty close relationships with each other. My kindergarten era took place at Osage Avenue School, and before I knew it I was enmeshed in the imbroglio that is Catholic school, when I entered St. Jerome's on La Tijera Blvd. for first grade. During this phase, my Dad was a pretty intense guy. One simply did not flout his directives--that is all. He could make one quail with a glance. "Ask your mother" was cause for great rejoicing. This was to change several years later.
1968. The Monarca house
In 1967, we moved north to the San Fernando Valley, to the picturesque hamlet of Tarzana. Supposedly it was so named because Edgar Rice Burroughs, author of the Tarzan stories, lived there at some point. My Dad, flush with promotions, bought us a house at 1400 Monarca Drive, which was a lot larger than the Glasgow Way place. It had two stories and a big backyard, just right for a swimming pool, which was promptly begun. I entered Our Lady of Grace school at Ventura Blvd and Tampa Ave., at the beginning of 2nd Grade. I met my first girlfriend, Angela Cardoza, that year. I was roundly ridiculed by my playmates for actually kissing a girl. My 2nd grade teacher, Mrs. Nagel, had a nervous breakdown during the year. I don't remember third grade very well; but in fourth grade, we had a kindly teacher named Mrs. Brown, whom we all loved, but something happened to her too, and midway through the year she was replaced by Miss Kelly, a young lady with whom all of us boys instantly fell in love.
1968. With my first niece, Elena
During these years, a storm blew the roof off my bedroom and I had to sleep in my sister's room (shudder); we had two dogs who promptly mated to produce a delightful litter of puppies; lots of time was spent around the pool; and several occurrences involving my sisters and boyfriends took place about which I was blissfully unaware--to a point. My first niece, Elena, was born to Kathleen and her new husband, Alex, in 1967, and I was an uncle at seven years of age.
Eventually, my Dad was transferred to the Fullerton plant of Hughes Aircraft, so in 1970, by which time all but my youngest elder sibling had moved out, the Draper home moved once again...
1970. The O.C. house under construction
This chapter covers a lot of ground, because I was ten years old when we relocated to Orange County, and twenty-one when I left to go to Northern California for college. They were very full years--I met my best friends, did high school, learned to drive, learned to play the guitar, fell in love for the first time, and basically, well, grew up. Because I am so much younger than all of my siblings, it was not long after moving here that I was the only one left at home with my parents, and thus began a very close relationship between us that continues to this day. My father suffered a couple of pretty severe heart attacks, which totally changed his life. We had some major family-reunion style gatherings that will be talked about in the family forever, no doubt.
I continued my schooling at yet another Catholic school. However the closest one was in Laguna Beach, 20 miles away, so I was forced (oh darn!) to go to school across the Pacific Coast Highway from the ocean. I got teased a lot by my schoolmates for not having a tan. I enjoyed it for the most part though. The nuns were "cool", I went out for sports and, being tall for my age, managed to do well. I began playing volleyball, which I really enjoy (wish I could play more these days). However, I was at times basically insufferable during these years--thought I was really hot stuff. Then came High School.
1973. Doodle-Art during the holidays
I went to Mater Dei, yet another Catholic School. It was far from home too, a good thirty minutes on the freeway, at that time. Today, probably closer to an hour. At least they had girls there, unlike rival Servite, which was all-boys. It was a very weird place, but I got a good education and was instilled with good learning habits. I met some of my best friends there, a couple of which I still see regularly (or as regularly as possible given that I have travelled far from California over the years), along with my next-door-neighbor, who started hanging out with me and my pals rather than guys from the local public school. At first I had little social contact, but eventually was integrated into a couple of the inevitable "cliques" that form at high school. It is no exaggeration that my guitar playing made me most of my friends--at least as an ice-breaker.
My girlfriend at this time was someone I met while taking part in the Pageant of the Masters in Laguna Beach (recreations of artworks lifesize with real people--hard to explain but it was pretty nifty), who lived across the county. Because most of the students at Mater Dei also lived in far-flung places, I did a lot of traveling around, as do so many Southern Californians. I wrecked my first car ten days after getting it--it wasn't my fault, the road was covered in water and the car (a VW Bug) had plain-label, generic "tires" on it--no radials or bias ply, just tires. Spun out and rolled it three times. Had to wake up Dad at 2 am in the morning to tell him I'd rolled my new car. His only concern was for my safety though--I was shocked, expecting a severe tongue-lashing. This was a manifestation of the changes he underwent after his heart attacks.
After graduating from high school in 1978, I continued to drive all over the place seeing friends. I worked in a grocery store on the night shift, throwing stock. I did not return to school until nearly 18 months after graduation from high school. I wanted to take some time off--my folks, however, were worried that I would never go back. Junior college was little more than glorified high school, although I did have some good classes and met some nice people. It was at this time that I became disenchanted with organized musical education, and became enamored of geology while taking a couple of Earth Science courses to fulfill my lab-science requirement. It was with great trepidation that I sat my parents down to tell them that I wanted to change my major from music to geology and go to a good liberal-arts style university. To my surprise, they were delighted with this development, and have been totally supportive and helpful in my education and career from that day to this.
1981. The "Big Xmas"
I then moved away from Los Angeles for good, driving away at nightfall in the fall of 1981, to start in the undergraduate geology program at Humboldt State University in Arcata, California, in August of 1981. Arcata is a small town (population 6000 when school is out, 12000 when it is in session, in those years) on the coast of northern California about 100 km south of the Oregon border. It is a spectacularly beautiful place. Huge coastal redwoods abound in one of the last places on Earth where they have not been cleared for lumber. The air and water are clean and clear, the people friendly and relaxed--in short, a completely different world from the LA area. It did not take me long at all to realize that southern California is basically a separate planet--many people there, and most of those that I knew well, have no conception of what the rest of the world is about. Not long after moving away, in a letter from my Mom was included a small card with the following poem written on it that she had penned. Truer words were never written:
He left by the light of the harvest moon
His step was light, he whistled a tune.
Excited, eager, and a little sad,
As he said "Take care, Mom." "I'll see ya, Dad."
"My son, my son, so young and fair,
Your hopes and dreams we truly share.
Eager, sad, and excited, too,
A beginning and ending for us and for you."
The moonlight reflected a tear in her eye.
As they smiled -- hand in hand -- and whispered, "Goodbye."
This ancient scene each day replays
As old and young go separate ways.
Needless to say, reading those words was an emotional moment, and not a single instance goes by when I read them (including right now, as I write this) that I do not choke up.
College was a struggle at first. I had no real idea of what it would take to do geology, and had a hard time in the math, chemistry, and physics required as part of the degree. But by my third year things started to sink in and my performance improved greatly. I had uniformly excellent teachers. Some of the most influential on my thinking and way of approaching science were Steve (now Stone) Brusca, a dynamic and inspiring physicist, and Bob Stuart, a laid-back and wise paleontologist. These two men were excellent examples of how to both enjoy one's work and have a life at the same time, and I have striven to emulate them ever since.
1984. At the Grand Canyon
Some of the best memories I have of those days involve seeing geology in the field. We went to Field Camp in the Inyo Mountains of southeastern California, across the Owens Valley from the eastern escarpment of the Sierra Nevada range. Groups of Geo majors also took two long bus trips, the first through Oregon and to Mt. St. Helens, an experience that proved crucial in shaping my future direction in geology, and the second to the Grand Canyon and Death Valley. Both of these trips were marshalled by the aforementioned Bob Stuart.
1985. Graduating from HSU
These were fabulous trips, never to be forgotten, and at Field Camp I finally felt like a real geologist, thanks both to the excellence of the instruction by Gary Carver, and to the great interaction with my fellow students--no hint of competitiveness, we were truly all in it together.
In due course I completed a Senior Thesis on structural geology, but by this time I knew that it was igneous rocks that held the real allure for me. I was admitted to the University of Oregon, and moved there to begin graduate school in the summer of 1985.
My early going at Oregon was a little rough, despite the high quality of life in Eugene. At first I was admitted to the graduate program without support, meaning I had to take jobs outside the University to get by, along with student loans. The less said about this period the better--I was not very happy. Eventually though things got better; one major development was finally getting on the Teaching Assistant rolls, which helped a lot financially. In addition I discovered that I really enjoy teaching, and it would seem that I could do it reasonably well.
1987. At Mt. St. Helens blast zone
I first began a project, working with the late Gordon Goles, on a set of young, primitive basaltic lavas erupted in southeastern Oregon. This project was mostly geochemical; and after a couple of years I became dissatisfied with the lack of precision and control that could be brought to bear on the problem. At about the same time Dana Johnston was funded by NSF to study experimentally the conditions of formation of magnesian arc-related compositions. This led to our mutual agreement that it would be sensible for me to come on board into Dana's group, which would allow me to learn things that were not possible before. The compositions of the Oregon rocks I was studying and those I began to work on experimentally were similar enough that there was scope for good crossover between the two projects (see the Geology page for more details on these studies).
1988. Working with my Commodore 128
Working in Dana's group was an excellent experience for many reasons. Not only did it give me the skills that led to subsequent gainful employment, but I was able to learn a great deal about the nuts and bolts of how experimental apparatus function from helping put together Oregon's experimental petrology laboratory, housed in a new building built in 1988-1990. Also, I formed close personal friendships with Dana, Alberto Patiño Douce, Mo Shaojian, and the late Kjell Petter Skjerlie. We had a great time working together, and learned a great deal from one another. Also during this time, I was married to my first wife, but she insists that she wants no mention of her made on these pages. Fair enough; but the fact remains that we had lived together for some years and got married in 1987.
Finally, in late 1990, I began to reach the end of my studies, and had mostly finished by mid-1991. Dana kindly kept paying my salary and fees so that I could write up various things and apply for positions, which were few and far between but not nearly so scarce as is the case today. In the late summer of 1991 I landed a position as a postdoctoral research associate working with Mike Carroll at the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom. So, after much packing up of gear, my ex and I arrived in England during the first week of January 1992.
1992. With my father on the eve of my departure for the UK
My position at Bristol was one of extreme value on a professional level, but it must be said that on other grounds it was not a very happy time for me. First, the conditions that ultimately led to the failure of my first marriage had their roots here. Also, the cost of living in the UK is very high, and salaries are very low, so we had absolutely no disposable income. This was due in part to our having substantial student-loan debt to service in the US, and to the precipitous drop in the exchange rate between the US and UK currencies in late 1992. As a result, we did next to no traveling, despite having the UK and Europe basically at our doorstep. We did not even get a chance to visit London, less than two hours away by car. In addition, the two years we spent in the UK were two of the worst for weather that they had had in some while, and it seemed to us that it was constantly gray, drizzling, and cold.
All was not unpleasant however. The friends I made in the department at Bristol were a great pleasure--a very good bunch of people. Before long a regular poker game evolved, whose stalwart participants were (besides myself) John Brodholt, Mike Carroll (whose nickname became "Bundesbank" because it seemed he always came out way ahead every time we played and he had spent time in Germany; this was in due course shortened to "Bunde", pronounced "BOON-dah". More than once, the participants at the table were heard to be chanting "Boon-DAH! Boon-DAH! Boon-DAH!" in an effort to rattle him. It never worked.), Bjorn Jamtviet, Jon Blundy, Rob Nicholls, and George Helffrich. I don't think these guys realize how much I looked forward to our games, nor how much I miss them now.
The atmosphere in the department at Bristol is very heady indeed; a lot is going on there all the time. I had a chance to learn about many topics in geology that I had not spent much time considering before, and once again had the good fortune to have a colleague of great personal quality in Mike Carroll (and his splendid wife, Eleonora Paris). I was able to make many good connections, and did get a chance to visit Edinburgh, Scotland (a truly fantastic city), for some time, as well as shorter visits to Clermont-Ferrand, France, and Bayreuth, Germany.
As the time neared for my position to expire, I managed to hook up with Trevor Green at Macquarie University in Sydney, and we put together a successful research fellowship proposal. So in January of 1994, my ex-wife and I departed the UK and, after a couple of months in the US visiting friends and family, arrived in Australia on 1 March 1994.
1994. The famous Sydney Opera House
My time in Australia was extremely enjoyable. I worked on a project I am really excited about; the standard of living is very high; the weather is great; the people friendly; the scenery fabulous; the wildlife (especially birds) amazing. I felt quite at home there. It's really a beautiful place, as I was constantly reminded whenever I went outdoors. Australia can't hope to touch the quality of the beer brewed in England, but they more than make up for it in the outstanding wines made there. I am especially partial to big Australian reds--cabernets and merlots to die for.
1994. My walk to Macquarie from my Aussie apartment
I had a nice apartment, very close to Macquarie. Once again, I had the great fortune of working with another splendid human being in Trevor Green. If you look up "salt of the Earth" in the dictionary, that's his picture you see there. He unstintingly gave of his time and efforts to make my traveling to Australia and settling in as painless as possible. His support on both the professional and personal level was unsurpassed, and his influence on my personality is profound. He is a very hard act to follow!
1995. In the Macquarie high-pressure lab
Macquarie's School of Earth Sciences is also home to a crew of good people, many of whom will be my close friends for life. Besides myself, there were two other active postdoctoral researchers in the experimental lab. Geoff Nichols, mustachioed maven of Mokes and Macs extraordinaire and fellow homebrewer, helped provide a stimulating scientific atmosphere, having many interests in common with mine, and he and his wife Rose were also neighbors, and we shared many a social evening. John Adam, the quiet artist who never missed a chance to sketch one of us in his always-present sketchbook, lent his knowledge of history and interests in a great many things, scientific and otherwise, to spice up the mix. The hard-rock group enjoys the sterling support of Tom Bradley, an absolute artist with the lapidary equipment and one helluva nice guy (and he bakes amazing cream-filled buns). Tom and his wife Sandy were very kind to me, and I enjoyed their hospitality on several occasions, including a Thanksgiving dinner where I had the unique experience of having both potato salad and couscous (brought by their Lebanese neighbors) on my fork at the same time! Down the hall, the heart of the Geochemical Analysis Unit boasted hard-working Norm Pearson, whose unfailing good humor and keen willingness to help out in all sorts of ways is an asset to the department that (in my view) does not get nearly the recognition it deserves. Norm's partners in mayhem were Carol Lawson, always ready to share a laugh and who knew all the ropes of the experimental lab and the analytical instruments; and Ashwini Sharma, my best friend in Australia, who arrived at Macquarie almost exactly when I did, and has also since moved on. Ashwini was there for me during some rough times, as well as being a constant source of great company, from good-natured banter to serious social and political discussions.
This group, with Trevor, formed the hard core of the Coffee Club, and most of us met nearly every morning for coffee, tea, and conversation in the experimental lab. The group was augmented by postdocs Marc Norman and Dmitri Ionov on many afternoons for homebrew tastings as well, and I miss this rowdy bunch very, very much.
In early 1997, I landed a job at the University of Texas at Dallas that, at the time, appeared to be permanent. In that position I divided my time equally between administering and maintaining the UTD Electron Microprobe Laboratory and continuing my own experimental research program in the UTD Magmalogy Laboratory of Dean Presnall. Unfortunately, the viability of this position was not what I had hoped. It became clear that the position was not as secure as I had been given to understand, so that I felt it prudent to keep my eyes open for further opportunities should they become available. In late 1998 Carl Agee joined the NASA Johnson Space Center and was looking to hire someone to run his experimental laboratory, and I was very fortunate to land the position.
1999. With Gene Cernan, Apollo 17 commander and the "Last Man on the Moon"
At NASA/JSC I oversaw the High-Pressure Experimental Petrology lab. After assembling the apparatus and getting things up and running, two postdocs, Nancy Chabot and Dimitri Xirouchakis, joined the group and carried out experimental research covering a range of problems that are applicable both to terrestrial and extraterrestrial processes. Carl's group also had an involvement in the Mars Sample Return program, and although NASA's Mars exploration program (see links on the Space page) had been faltering in recent years, that was a very exciting prospect. My time at JSC was highly rewarding and interesting, and my colleagues there became my very close friends, especially John Jones, Gordon McKay, Doug Ming, Dave Lindstrom, Lindsay Keller, Dimitri Xirouchakis, and Dick Morris. I had hoped to remain here for the rest of my career-- it was a full-circle sort of thing to get to work on things that have to do with space science after all my interest in such matters from early childhood-- but that was not to be.
2000. In the Lunar Sample Laboratory at JSC
In mid-1999 I met a delightful woman from New York named Cynthia Noirjean, quite by accident while we were both in the Boston area for work-related reasons. We hit it off like gangbusters, and as 1999 turned into 2000, it became clear that we were ready to join forces. She moved to Houston in July of 2000, and I proposed to her on New Year's Eve of that year. We were married on 26 May 2001, in the presence of some of our close family. Our wedding and honeymoon were both all that we could have wished for. The only sad thing is that her kids (Daniel, who was 14, and Nicole, who was 17 when we were married in '01) were still back east, and Cynthia misses them very much. But we visit them and bring them to see us as regularly as possible, which helps.
In late June of 2001, we moved into a home of our own in the community of Seabrook, just a few miles down the road from JSC. Cynthia landed a great job running the office for Northstar Information, working in the title industry as she had done back in New York. It's just a couple of blocks from JSC, so we had essentially no commute, which was a real luxury. Our home was in a nice neighborhood, with a huge back yard for the magnificent Moose, our chocolate labrador retriever. So life, as they say, was Good.
In early 2002, my boss Carl Agee accepted an offer to take up the directorship of the Institute of Meteoritics at the University of New Mexico, and fortunately for me, negotiated to bring the entire high pressure lab along, and myself to run it as I had been doing at JSC. This surprising development turned out to be a spectacular opportunity to join one of the premier planetary science organizations in the world, and to come live in a place with a far higher quality of life than is possible in Texas. So during spring of 2002, Carl and I prepared to make the move, arriving in Albuquerque at the beginning of July 2002. The pleasure of making this move was tempered, however, by the sadness of losing my father, Harry, fairly suddenly in the autumn of that year. I miss him very much, every single day.
2002. In the IOM High-Pressure Lab
Cynthia and I found a really great house in the northeastern part of the city, near the foothills of the Sandia range, which forms the eastern edge of the Rio Grande rift valley at this latitude. The Rio Grande flows south through the valley, and on the other side of the river a line of small, very young basaltic shield volcanoes has produced sets of overlapping lava flows among which Native Americans drew pictographs over thousands of years, and these are now protected as part of Petroglyph National Monument. The geology and natural beauty of central New Mexico is truly astonishing. In addition, New Mexico is the oldest settled area on the North American continent, with history going back to thousands of years of Native American habitation before the coming of Europeans, who shamefully subjugated and persecuted these great peoples. Despite that painful past, New Mexico's many ethnic groups, made up mostly of Native Americans (largely so-called Pueblo Indians, who do not merely preserve their way of life-- they live it every single day), Hispanics, and caucasians (with other groups as well in smaller numbers) manage to get along fairly well. "Diversity" is not just a buzzword there, it really is the order of things, and that's a very refreshing environment to be in.
2004. Brewing beer in the back yard
New Mexico in general, and Albuquerque in particular, is also home to a fabulous climate, with warm summer days that always cool into a delightful evening and moderate winters with infrequent snowfall. After living in The Sponge, as I called the swampy, oppressive humidity of east Texas, it is like being released from prison. Our home had a large back yard with ample patio space, and we could be outside as much as we liked, compared to the case in Houston when being outside from late April to mid November meant being drenched in sweat and being swarmed by mosquitoes. And the ethnic diversity mentioned above has evolved a unique cuisine that redefines the term "Mexican food".
2006. With Cynthia in Hawaii
During my years in New Mexico, I got to work with some really great people, and had the pleasure to help mentor several really outstanding graduate students. I made some lifelong friends, and except for being burgled in 2005, our years in Albuquerque were very good. But the time eventually came when a new opportunity arose...
In 2008, we lost two of our dearest friends, Gordon McKay and his wife, Linda Uljon, whom we had gotten to know in our previous time in Houston, and with whom we'd stayed in close touch since. The process was protracted, but in the end, I became Gordon's eventual successor in June of 2009 as Manager of the Astromaterials Research Office at ARES. It is my great privelege to end up in this spot, and I hope he's up there somewhere not snickering TOO loudly at me, at least. Cynthia and I once again found a home we love, very close to our former home and thus close to work. Cynthia is working with the same firm as she did before, and it's as if our life had been on "pause" for our seven years in New Mexico. Suddenly we are back in familiar haunts with many of the same friends in our circle as before. It's the first time either of us had ever moved back to someplace we'd lived before.
This position requires a much larger fraction of whatever abilities I have than has anything I've done in the past; it's very different from doing the science "in the trenches", in that many other responsibilities become more important than one's own personal interests. It is very rewarding work. Although there are challenges facing NASA in the coming few years, our team is extremely talented and has demonstrated great success in being at the forefront in planetary science, and I try my best to keep us there. It's very exciting in many ways, and I hope to be able to make some small contribution to our nation's efforts in planetary science and exploration for the duration of my career.