Dr. Doug Ming, NASA Johnson Space Center
What was your first job?
Hmmm, my very first job was working for my Grandpa in the little town I grew up in eastern Colorado. He owed a furniture store and I helped him lay carpet. I think I was in junior high when I worked for Grandpappy. During high school I worked a couple of jobs. One summer I worked on a farm and a couple of other summers I worked for my Dad building houses.
What got you interested in science?
I was really good in math and thought about going into engineering, but I had a real interest in nature. So I went off to college and studied wild life biology my first year in college. I found out once I started that major there were no jobs in the field of wildlife biology so I changed my major to agronomy and chemistry. The reason that I pursued science is that I wanted to find ways to improve crop growth and to something about the environmental concerns that have plagued us for so long.
Who has been a mentor for you and how was that helpful?
My first mentor was my 7th grade math teacher. He told me one day that I would make a good engineer and encouraged me to go on to college. I think that really changed my life because most kids out in eastern Colorado did not go to college, but instead, went to work on the family farm or in my case probably for my Dad in construction.
If you weren't a scientist, what would you be?
I ran track and field when I was in college. I really enjoyed the sport and did a little coaching at both Colorado State University and TAMU. I suppose that I would have probably become a track coach if I had not decided to go on in science. Right now, I'm really glad I continued in science.