I stumbled into geology when I started college, at the suggestion of a longtime friend. Having grown up at a time when university-bound women were advised to become teachers and nurses, I'd been advised by high school councilors to become a physical education teacher, I guess because I had some athletic ability. A science career was not even remotely on my radar screen, but it sounded fun and interesting when suggested. So I majored in geology and eventually graduated from Wisconsin State University, Platteville, where I did have the good luck to visit a number of the MVT deposits in southwestern Wisconsin before they shut down.
After graduation I was fortunate to be hired by Inspiration Development Company in Arizona and I spent the next 11 years exploring primarily for porphyry copper deposits in the southwestern US. After a number of tough “down” years our office closed and I was laid off. However, the downturn provided the opportunity to return to school at Arizona to work on an MS degree on a Nevada epithermal deposit with Spencer Titley. At that time my goal was to learn about precious metal systems and return to the mineral exploration industry when the industry recovered. The mid 80's was a great time to be back in school, and at Arizona in particular, with more than 50 other experienced and knowledgeable economic geology students, most of them recently out of a job like myself. Unfortunately, jobs were still scarce when I finished my MS, so I moved to VA Tech to continue my education, this time with Bob Bodnar and a focus on fluid inclusion studies.
By the time I finished my PhD I was pretty hooked on econ geology research. Fortunately UNLV had just advertised an EG tenure-track position that looked like it was written for me. UNLV offered me the position and I eagerly headed back out west. Shortly after arriving at UNLV I teamed up with Brian Dozier to form the first GSN chapter in Las Vegas. Our goal was to create an opportunity to meet and connect with other geologists in the valley. We continue to function as a small but enthusiastic group that has a large UNLV student component. I've now been at UNLV about 18 years, which sounds much longer than it feels. I am really fortunate to have ended up in a great department with excellent colleagues and students, all of whom work hard and in a collegial fashion to advance the education and research mission of our department and UNLV. The spectacular geology in Nevada has provided excellent opportunities to work on some fun and interesting projects including particularly Carlin type gold deposits and also on questions of possible hydrothermal activity at the proposed Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository. Nevada has also provided excellent opportunities to collaborate with numerous geologists both within and outside the mining industry. I am grateful to the many Nevada geologists who have collaborated, communicated, or just shared a beer with me over the many years.
I've recently moved from Las Vegas to the small community of Blue Diamond, about a half hour outside of Las Vegas and near the spectacular Red Rocks recreation area. Blue Diamond began as the company town for a nearby gypsum mine and many of us live in original small company houses built in the 1940s. Life in Blue Diamond allows me to easily pursue my latest passion – rock climbing.
In sum, the serendipitous suggestion by a friend to study geology has led to a career full of exciting opportunities and fascinating challenges. Southern Nevada continues to be a great place to live in part because it is central to so many great escapes in the surrounding desert and mountains facilitating hiking, camping, backpacking, and Grand Canyon adventures of all types. If and when you make it to Las Vegas, I hope you will find time to come by UNLV and check us out!
John Winton Erwin*
Erin L. Hart
Greg T. Hill
Joseph Kizis, Jr
Brooke J Miller
Justin and Ajeet Milliard
Mia (Cowgill) O'Neal
Shea Clark Smith
Roger C Steininger