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Humans of the GI - Jeff Benowitz

Image: 
In the GI’s Geochronology Lab with Jeff Benowitz, lab manager and associate research professor of geochronology. Jeff stands in front of maps of Denali, the focus of his recent research, which decorate the walls of his windowless lab. Photo by Kelly Eagan.
Kelly Eagan

“I really care about people. That sounds like a dorky thing to say, but it's not always clear when you're a scientist and you're stressed. It probably surprises people about me because I spend a lot of time by myself in the Alaska Range. I go skiing and climbing alone a lot, and even startle myself sometimes because I forget that I'm part of the human condition. Hiking the Appalachian Trail in the dead of winter by myself when I was a teenager taught me a lot about the difference between being lonely and being alone. I do think spending a lot of time by myself increases my empathy for others. Last week I was working on a paper with a guy named Matt from Kansas and another guy named Jeff from Pennsylvania, and we're just shooting ideas and figures around, and at the same time talking about family. It's just really productive and really positive. It's not competitive; it's constructive. We care that we do good science, but we also just care that we're all enjoying ourselves.”