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National Geographic's Strange Days on Planet Earth
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Careers in Science

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Careers in Science

Sam Meacham
Cave Diver and Explorer

How did you choose your present profession?
I did not so much chose it as it chose me.  My lifelong passion has always been diving. I attribute arriving in this area at the right time and meeting the right people to opening the doors of cenote exploration to me.

What were your biggest motivators?
My biggest motivators are that I can explore in the 21st century and that the exploration I take part in is significant to the future development of this area.

Who were/are your greatest mentors/heroes?
Most of my heroes are fictional: Tintin, Jim Hawkins, Bilbo Baggins and John Blackthorne. All are people that just walked out their doors and into whole worlds of adventure.  I attribute not having television as a child (and to this day) to giving me a strong sense of imagination and curiosity that I have been able to act upon.

Was there a pivotal event in your life that helped you decide on your career path?
When I was in elementary school, one of my classmates' father came to speak to us about his career as a commercial diver.  I just remember that from that day on, all I could think about was breathing underwater.

What has been the biggest surprise in your life as a scientist?
Although I am not technically a scientist, I think what surprises me the most is actually how little we really know.  That feeds another motivation, which is a strong desire to find out what makes everything tick!

What would you recommend for students wanting to pursue a similar career?
Develop a passion and follow it.
  
What do you like best about your profession?
I honestly feel that I am able to learn on a continuing basis, and that gives me a very enriching and interesting life.

What would you say has been your greatest achievement?
Raising awareness about the fragility and importance of the cenotes and underground rivers and taking the issues facing groundwater to a global stage.

Are you optimistic for the future of the planet and if so why?
I have no doubt that the planet will do just fine.  It is the human race I am worried about.  I believe that human passion, intelligence and ultimately good science are capable of making the human race endure on this planet.

What are your greatest fears for the future of the planet?
Human greed and complacency.

What’s the one message you would like the next generation of scientists to hear?
We need you!  Get out in your world, explore it and embrace it.

What Web sites, books, articles and other layperson references would you recommend for viewers interested in your work featured in Strange Days on Planet Earth?
Collapse by Jared Diamond
Water Wars by Diane Raine Ward

Safe Drinking Water is Essential web site:
http://www.drinking-water.org/html/en/Overview/index.html Off-site Link

Visit Meacham's bio page »

 

 

 


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