I was born in Brooklyn in 1964 when my father was a graduate student studying for his Ph.D. in polymer chemistry at the Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn (now the Polytechnic Institute of New York). By the most liberal definition, I'm on the tail end of the baby-boom generation; however, I usually prefer to think of myself as a senior post-baby-boomer. When I was 4 years old my father finished his graduate studies, and my folks packed up the family's newly acquired VW bus and moved to Spartanburg, a mid-sized city of about 45,000 inhabitants in northwestern South Carolina, where my father took a job at Deering Milliken Corporation, a textile research company.
Several months later, my brother Jim was born in Spartanburg, where we both grew up. Since the time I was in kindergarten and Jim was one year old, we lived in the same house and attended all twelve grades of school in the same school system until "leaving the nest". To the best of my awareness, my childhood years were typical. But I was a rather unorthodox adolescent. While in high school I became obsessed with my intellectual development, whence I spent many long hours studying and solving problems that had attracted my curiosity in areas of chemistry, mathematics, and physics. I greatly enjoyed competing in math and science contests, and I was often successful. Although my grades improved and I won many honors and awards, these came at the price of my social development. This led to my being far from the prototypical teenager- I showed no interest in beaches, parties, dancing, dating, etc. I was all but immune to peer pressure since I had no desire to gain "social acceptance". My only non-technical activity at this time was playing the violin.
In 1982 I graduated from high school and enrolled at Furman University (in Greenville SC, which is about 30 miles west of Spartanburg) as a double major in chemistry and mathematics. It was here that I escaped from the interpersonal shell in which I had immersed myself previously. These years were noted for the friendships I developed, which were high in both number and quality. The scope of these acquaintances transcended all levels of university life, involving faculty, staff, and administrative personnel, as well as fellow students. To this day I remain close to Furman, a fact manifested by my frequent correspondence and frequent travels from Utah and San Diego to visit old friends.
In 1986 I began my graduate studies in computational chemistry at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. I was attracted there by two factors: the candor of the people there, especially Jack Simons, who later became my Ph.D. research supervisor, and the proximity to large mountains. Appropriately, my life in Utah consisted of basically two elements: my graduate studies and outdoor recreation. My graduate studies involved as much math, physics, and computer software development as chemistry. My field of research was ab initio electronic structure calculations, and my main research topics were symmetry and double negative anions.
In May of 1992 I completed my Ph.D. and took my first "real" job as a scientific programmer at Biosym Technologies (now Accelrys) in San Diego CA. For most of my tenure there I developed software for symbolic forcefields. A few months after starting this work I began my long-awaited flight training and became a private pilot the following summer. I also met my good friend Adam Helman when I joined Biosym. He and I have taken several extended hiking and climbing vacations together to places all around the western USA and Latin America.
In August of 1995, Biosym merged with Molecular Simulations, one of its former competitors. As a result of staff reductions in that affair, I was laid off. After being unemployed for nearly 7 months, I was employed as a software engineer by Qualcomm Incorporated, a wireless telecommunications equipment manufacturer in San Diego. I was possibly the only Ph.D. chemist among that company's 8000 employees. The product I worked on there is Globalstar, a satellite-based voice and data communication system which resembles a cellular phone system to the user. My most successful project was the development of a software tool to monitor and test the digital interface to an antenna that tracks the Globalstar communications satellites.
In February 1999, Qualcomm implemented some cost-cutting measures and I was one of 700 employees to be let go. Soon thereafter I was hired as a principal engineer by CACI Technologies to design algorithms and software to process airport surface radar data. The job satisfies both my professional interests (as a scientist, mathematician, and software developer) and personal interests (as a pilot).
In October 2007, my role in a subcontractor's project at CACI came to a natural end, and I found myself facing a project transition and possibly a job transition. Since I also faced an increasing desire to relocate to a more alpine venue, I decided to uproot myself from San Diego. After an extended road trip, I eventually settled near Seattle, Washington, in February 2008.
Only God knows what opportunities I will have in the future. The professional and personal goals to which I presently aspire are: