WHERE ARE THEY NOW?
DR. DAVID MOSHER
Each year we ask a graduate to write an article on his/her past and current activities since leaving Acadia. This year we invited David Mosher, who studied at Acadia in the early 80's, and went on to complete his Ph.D. at Dalhousie University. He now works as a research oceanographer at the Bedford Institute of Oceanography.
"We usually find oil in new places with old ideas. Sometimes we find oil in an old place with a new idea, but we seldom find much oil in an old place with an old idea. Several times in the past we have thought that we were running out of oil, whereas, actually we were only running out of ideas"
---the late Parke Dickey, Professor Emeritus, University of Tulsa ---
I love what I do. I didn't really plan to be a research scientist, nor even a geologist for that matter - but in retrospect I think I always focused on the sciences. I find geology a great science, in part because it involves a bit of art. I went to Acadia University to become a wildlife biologist (I think "wildlife" intrigued me!). A friend in residence got me interested in geology, however, with his "romantic" stories of bush camps. And of course, summer jobs were aplenty back then. I spoke with George Stevens...and still decided to switch to a major in Geology!
Sandra Barr recommended me for a summer job under the COSEP program with the GSC at Bedford Institute of Oceanography (BIO) in 1982. I was awestruck by the place and the people. After my first trip to sea, I knew this is what I wanted to do. David Piper at BIO proved to be a great mentor and I undertook a master's degree on a project with him - besides, with the moratorium on uranium exploration and the 1983 recession, there weren't any jobs anyway!
Being a staunch Maritimer, I decided early on that I would complete my education at universities in the Atlantic Provinces. I went to Memorial University of Newfoundland for my Master's degree and to meet the woman who was to become my wife...not necessarily in that order. I thoroughly enjoyed graduate work - and George Street in St. John's! I was especially impressed with the musical talent of earth science students at Memorial and undertook to learn to play along with those Newfie jigs. Following my masters I worked back at BIO for a couple of years as a research assistant. I developed a keen interest for better understanding the geophysical data with which we worked, so I declined an offer of permanent employment to return to graduate school with NSERC scholarship in hand. I studied with Larry Mayer at the Dalhousie Oceanography Department. Larry proved to be another great mentor, and I learned much about geophysics, but also about paleoceanography and many aspects of marine geology with him. I was also exposed to the international science community during my tenure at Dalhousie. I graduated in 1993 with a job offer from the GSC at the Institute of Ocean Sciences on Vancouver Island and worked there until 2000, when I returned again to BIO.
As I said in my first sentence - I love what I do. I have always leaned towards the applied side of geology and I now work principally in understanding marine geohazards. I find marine geohazard research combines the skills of a geologist, a geophysicist, a geomorphologist, an engineer, a mariner and a technician, using principals of sedimentology, structure, stratigraphy and navigation. In my work, I have managed to travel significantly, from the equator to the Arctic, Atlantic to the Pacific. I swam over the Marianas Trench (slightly over my head) and at the North Pole (in a swim suit - slightly colder than a slushie). Perhaps the greatest thrill is that I have been involved in a pioneering stage of marine geologic research with the advent of new technologies such as multibeam sonar and 3D seismic reflection. For the first time we are starting to see the ocean floor in all its wonder, much as onshore geologists saw the landscape for the first time with aerial photographs some 60 years ago. As the quote in the opening paragraph indicates, we only need new ideas, technical and scientific, to make new discoveries.
Following Acadia, I developed a few clear ideas about what I wanted to do in science, but I cannot overstate the importance of mentors in the development of my career; mentors such as Sandra Barr, David Piper, Kate Moran and Larry Mayer. More than by direct advice, they have mentored by example by showing a deep scientific curiosity, an incredible work ethic and, most importantly perhaps, a desire to be a mentor. I am at that stage in my career when I find I am directing a few students and it is my greatest hope that I can be a fraction of the mentor that these aforementioned people have been for me. Now, if only they had told me how tough it was to be a parent...