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William "Bill" Stringer
Bill Stringer

William "Bill" Stringer was interviewed on May 4, 2000 by Bill Schneider at the Geophysical Institute at the University of Alaska Fairbanks in Fairbanks, Alaska. In this interview, Bill talks about his scientific research and his career at the Geophysical Institute. He discusses his educational background, coming to Alaska, getting involved with the use of remote sensing and satellite imagery to study physical phenomena, such as sea ice or flooding events, and the importance of collaboration in science. He also talks about the use of satellite imagery to track the 1989 Exxon Valdez Oil Spill or volcanic activity.

Digital Asset Information

Archive #: Oral History 2000-18-07

Project: Geophysical Institute 50th Anniversary
Date of Interview: May 4, 2000
Narrator(s): William "Bill" Stringer
Interviewer(s): Bill Schneider
Location of Interview:
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1) Family background, childhood.

2) Moving to Las Vegas and his father's interest in inventions.

3) His father's unique interests carry over into Bill Stringer's life.

4) Education, high school, university.

5) Graduate school.

6) Coming to the Geophysical Institute and working on a Masters and a Doctorate degree.

7) Living in Alaska.

8) Remote sensing projects and life at the Geophysical Institute.

9) Life at the Geophysical Institute.

10) Fake memo story continued.

11) The Sheik Yamani joke continued.

12) Career at Geophysical Institute.

13) Career at Geophysical Institute continued.

14) Imagery used on the Exxon Valdez spill and Bill's involvement.

15) Tracking the Exxon Valdez oil spill using weather satellites

16) Using the daily satellite data.

17) Specialized training in understanding how radar interacts with surfaces.

18) Cosmology and science.

19) The future of the Geophysical Institute.

20) The disciplines in science have moved towards each other.

21) The depth of personnel at University of Alaska Fairbanks.

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Section 1: born -- St. Louis, Missouri\ father\ work -- construction\ airports -- building\ South Pacific\ father -- civil engineer\ Atomic Energy Commission\ Grand Island, Nebraska\ Panhandle, Texas\ munitions factories\ atomic test cite -- Nevada\ Las Vegas, Nevada\ Central City, Nebraska\ Boulder City, Nevada\ high school -- graduated|

Section 2: operator\ dial phones\ father -- inventor\ house -- inventions\ physics\ magazine -- Scientific American\ atomic energy -- interest\ atomic test -- witness\ childhood -- unique|

Section 3: inventions\ mining engineer\ mining\ development -- technological\ steam devices\ railroads\ science -- interesting\ steam engine -- #1\ Tanana Valley Railroad -- rebuild\ childhood\ interest -- railways|

Section 4: high school -- Las Vegas\ University of Nevada\ physics\ Southern New Mexico\ New Mexico State\ Las Cruces, New Mexico\ adobe structures\ roads -- paved\ cultures -- many|

Section 5: University of Colorado -- applied\ job -- lined up\ university library -- catalog\ University of Alaska -- catalog\ campus photos\ physics courses -- interesting\ University of Alaska -- applied\ Physics Department -- 1962|

Section 6: summer job -- Geophysical Institute\ Chapman Building\ atmosphere -- pleasant\ academics -- research\ fieldwork\ masters degree -- Aurora\ New Mexico -- returned\ Alaska -- returned\ doctorate -- Aurora\ Aurora display -- participating protons|

Section 7: living -- freedom\ cabin -- musk ox subdivision\ original structure -- plywood\ house -- around cabin\ Geophysical Institute -- graduated\ Alaska -- remain\ Geophysical Institute -- hiring\ research proposal\ remote sensing\ Cook, John -- Anthropology Department\ proposal -- archaeological village site\ Ostercamp, Tom -- nearshore sea ice\ continental shelf\ Environmental Assessment Project\ oil exploration -- offshore|

Section 8: Geophysical Institute -- small group\ work ethic\ fieldwork\ people -- sense of humor\ practical jokes\ fish|

Section 9: practical jokes\ memos -- fake\ memos -- counter\ Geophysical Institute -- wild people\ memos -- file\ expedition -- north of Fairbanks\ White Mountains\ Aurora -- observations\ rocket shot\ FS6 -- Aurora\ Aurora -- extinguish\ Aurora -- photograph\ blizzard\ supplies\ Nielsen, Hans -- supply drop|

Section 10: jokes -- source\ airdrop\ memo -- year later\ Elvey Building\ save -- Stringer and Helfferich\ civil defense drill -- Stringer memo\ rifles -- aircraft\ great belly dance episode\ Roederer, Juan -- newsletter\ OPEC -- joke|

Section 11: auditorium\ Roederer, Juan -- announcement\ joke\ Reese, Fred\ belly dancer -- hired\ memo -- people added\ campus security -- involvement|

Section 12: remote sensing\ team -- organized\ project -- group\ imagery -- archive\ satellite imagery -- Alaska\ historical record\ statistical studies\ sea ice behavior\ rivers -- break-up\ break-up -- stages\ flooding\ Minto Flats\ Innoko River -- flats\ water -- drain\ USGS maps\ imagery -- landsat|

Section 13: satellite imagery\ Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) -- remote sensing data\ International Arctic Research Center (IARC)\ development -- steady\ study|

Section 14: involvement\ news releases -- awareness\ radar satellite\ landsat imagery -- acquire\ reflective imagery -- oil\ software -- oil enhancement\ image development -- oil\ Seward -- south\ Prince William Sound|

Section 15: oil spill -- tracking\ satellite -- weather\ data -- enhancement\ oil spill -- large\ Kodiak, Alaska\ info -- reference work\ oil spill -- tracked\ weather satellite -- daily data\ images -- faxed to ships\ boats\ information -- conversion to line drawing\ satellite image -- large area\ research project\ landsat -- data turnaround\ Dean, Ken\ monitor -- volcanic ash\ aircraft -- warning|

Section 16: engine\ volcanic eruption\ volcanic ash\ Talkeetna, Alaska -- plane descending\ Anchorage, Alaska -- glide\ engine -- restored\ Stevens, Senator Ted -- funding\ Alaska Volcano Observatory\ volcanic ash plumes -- monitoring\ radar satellite -- tracking oil spills\ data -- interpreting\ skills -- development|

Section 17: landsat\ satellite images -- interpreting\ ocean slicks\ surfaces -- smooth\ radar reflection\ oil spills -- different\ projects\ retired\ cosmology\ papers\ earth -- age\ universe -- expansion\ expanding universe -- local effect|

Section 18: universe -- expansion\ internal heating\ radioactive decay\ funding -- none\ work -- interesting\ science -- fun\ strange things -- consideration\ continental drift\ planet -- understanding\ Tanana Valley Railroad -- engine #1\ steam engines\ house -- additions|

Section 19: student committees\ Geophysical Institute -- staff\ global climate studies\ seismology\ earth\ internal earth\ seismic studies\ planet -- understanding\ Aurora\ Aurora television\ techniques\ shuttle missions|

Section 20: science -- separated\ biologists -- meteorites\ geology\ Akasofu, Syun-Ichi\ Aurora -- signs of life\ geologists\ biologists\ University of Alaska -- development of science|

Section 21: science -- separated\ biologists -- meteorites\ geology\ Akasofu, Syun-Ichi\ Aurora -- signs of life\ geologists\ biologists\ University of Alaska -- development of science|