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Roger Smith
Roger Smith

Roger Smith was interviewed on June 6, 2001 by Bill Schneider in Roger's office at the Geophysical Institute at the University of Alaska Fairbanks in Fairbanks, Alaska. In this interview, Roger talks about his scientific research and his career at the Geophysical Insitute, including being named director in April 2000. He discusses the development of the Institute, previous directors, scientific accomplishments, and major issues they face in the future.

After clicking play, click on a section to navigate the audio or video clip.


1) Looking back at the Geophysical Institute on its 50th Anniversary.

2) Keith Mather broadens the Geophysical Institute's activities.

3) Development of the research program at the Geophysical Institute.

4) How Roger got interested in science and the role of the technicians.

5) Team work, attitudes, and their success with projects.

6) What attracted Roger to take on the responsibilities of the Geophysical Institute directorship.

7) Major issues for the Geophysical Institute in the future.

Click play, then use Sections or Transcript to navigate the interview.

After clicking play, click a section of the transcript to navigate the audio or video clip.


Section 1: Geophysical Institute\ International Geophysical Year\ Geophysical Institute -- began with an act of Congress\ investigate -- difficulties of high frequency radio transmissions\ science -- important to government planning\ Office of Naval Research\ National Science Foundation\ Fairbanks\ houses -- build for working staff\ Chapman Building\ Elvey, Christian\ University of Oxford\ Science Director -- advisory|

Section 2: Elvey, Christian\ Mather, Keith\ activities -- broaden the institute\ physics groups\ atmospheric science\ snow\ ice\ permafrost\ seismology\ volcanology\ tectonics\ sedimentation\ remote sensing assistance\ Aurora\ Aurora Oval\ Akasofu, Syun-Ichi\ International Geophysical Year\ oval of luminosity\ observations -- made with spectrometers\ protons\ electrons\ magnetic environment\ light and magnetic disturbance|

Section 3: Akasofu, Syun-Ichi\ Auroral research\ people -- attract\ observers\ theoreticians -- interpret\ Aurora -- earth responds to disturbances in it\ Parker, Eugene\ solar wind\ shock waves\ Auroral fluctuations\ International Geophysical Year\ investment\ infrastructure\ act of Congress\ success\ science -- activity\ vision\ strategy\ planning\ Chapman, Sydney\ geophysics|

Section 4: brother -- Ph.D. in Chemistry\ IBM\ Roger -- Ph.D. Physics\ Spitsbergen\ South Pole\ Arctic\ Poker Flat\ earthquake\ Minto\ instrumentation -- sensitive to vibration\ transformer -- broke\ scientific colleagues\ technicians -- talented\ Kozycki, Larry|

Section 5: Institution -- unique\ capability\ confidence\ team -- assemble\ success\ funding\ scientists\ support staff\ engineers\ technicians\ business office\ proposal office\ engineering support\ operations office|

Section 6: effective\ science -- working in\ scientific input\ observations\ expertise\ experience -- director's office\ Akasofu, Syun-Ichi|

Section 7: scientific projects\ Geophysical Institute\ University -- best in education and research in the Arctic\ role in the next ten years\ remotely sensed information\ satellites -- coverage of the Arctic\ data resources\ primary resources\ radio science\ geophysics\ satellite observations\ Synthetic Aperature Radar\ resolution imaging\ spectra radiometer\ NASA\ data center\ data -- comparing different types\ Data Initiative\ remote sensing applications|