Becoming a geologist was not the original aspiration for Mian Liu, Professor of Geological Sciences. The Chinese government assigned him to the discipline when he was 17 years old, a course of study he later followed at Nanjing University. His initial lack of interest in geology had much to do with the way the subject was taught. “The focus was not on understanding the processes; we were forced to memorize lots of facts,” he explains. Instead, Liu’s earliest interest was in physics, which “just seemed more intuitive.” He began sitting in on a variety of lectures and found that he preferred learning about geophysics, the physics of the Earth, eventually earning a Ph.D. in that area from the University of Arizona.
As if Liu’s “plate” isn’t full enough, he also has his hand in a research project called GEON (Geoscience Network) supported by the National Science Foundation. This initiative involves a dozen institutions along with the San Diego Supercomputer Center. The goal is to create a prototype of geosciences cyberinfrastructure, so “that any scientist can have any kind of data at his or her fingertips.”