Dr. Sam Kounaves, Tufts University
What was your first job?
My first real job was towards the end of my college days, working at a Navy base in San Diego helping analyze seawater for various trace elements.
What got you interested in science?
The first interest I can remember is when I was about 7-8 years old. At that time we lived in Montana. My Dad, who was a mining machine operator for the Anaconda Mining Company, used to bring home some instruments and would give me the recording charts from them. I used to like pretending I was building instruments. I think at the same time, it was also some of the science fiction shows on television and theaters that made me want to explore space and become a scientist. My interest became passionate with the watching of the Star Trek series in the 1960's.
Who has been a mentor for you and how was that helpful?
I had couple of really good science teachers in middle school that helped me grow my interests in science. In high school it was my math and physics teachers that made me realize how rigorous and intellectually challenging/satisfying the sciences were. In my 4th year of college, the scientist I worked with at the navy base gave me my first real experience with real scientific hand on research.
If you weren't a scientist, what would you be?
That's hard to say since I always wanted to be in the sciences or engineering. There were so many different types of fields to go into, that often I did not know what type of science I wanted to do. Of course "planetary science" lets me do a variety of science, so that solved my problem. If I was forced to chose some other area that was not purely science or math, think back I suppose it might have been history or archeology (but that is science!), or maybe politics, or maybe technical illustrating/drawing.