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Gene Shinn Writes Bootstrap Geologist—My Life in Science

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On a May evening in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, at the 2013 convention of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists, retired U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) geologist Gene Shinn sat at a table signing copies of his new book, Bootstrap Geologist—My Life in Science. Gene was greeted with pleasure by numerous colleagues—from the oil industry, where he began his career; from the USGS, where he spent the greater part of it; and from academia, a world he recently joined as a courtesy professor at the University of South Florida.

Gene Shinn signs copies of his book
Above: Gene Shinn signs copies of his book, Bootstrap Geologist—My Life in Science, at the American Association of Petroleum Geologists Annual Convention in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, May 2013. [larger version]

Gene’s new book details experiences and discoveries from each of these worlds, amassed over a career that has spanned nearly five decades.

Gene began as a lab assistant with Shell Development Company's Coral Gables Carbonate Research group. One of his Shell supervisors, Marlan Downey, cites Gene's energy, open mind, extraordinary level of curiosity, and powers of observation as the qualities that propelled him from lab assistant to senior geologist at Shell. Those same qualities, aided by his boating and scuba skills, led Gene to discoveries that were controversial for the time, such as his realization while diving in the Persian Gulf that limestone cement can form in saltwater, not just in freshwater.

After a varied and rewarding 15 years with Shell, Gene joined the USGS in 1974, taking a job that he writes “would lead to the most productive thirty-one years of my life.” His curiosity unabated, Gene kept his eye on topics that had interested him at Shell, such as submarine cementation, and he branched out into many new areas of research, such as measuring rates of coral growth as a clue to coral health and investigating the ecologic effects of African dust carried by winds to the Caribbean.

Gene Shinn uses his "flushable toilet" model to demonstrate how sewage flows through porous limestone
Above: Not just an innovative researcher, but also an innovative communicator, Gene Shinn uses his "flushable toilet" model to demonstrate how sewage flushed or injected into shallow disposal wells flows through porous limestone underlying the Florida Keys. (He received the 2002 USGS Shoemaker Award for Distinguished Achievement in Communications.) [larger version]

Still going strong after retiring from the USGS in 2006, Gene received the Twenhofel Medal, the highest award given by the Society for Sedimentary Geology, in 2009. He continues doing science and service work from his office at the University of South Florida’s College of Marine Science, where he also penned the new book.

Related Sound Waves Stories
Gene Shinn Wins 2002 Shoemaker Award for Distinguished Achievement in Communications
Feb. / Mar. 2003
Gene Shinn Wins Preeminent SEPM Twenhofel Medal
December 2008
Coral Reef Health and Environmental Changes in the Florida Keys and the Caribbean Sea—Video Podcasts Highlight USGS Research
April / May 2011
Retirement of Gene Shinn, Pioneer in Carbonate Sedimentology and Coral-Reef Ecosystems
February 2006
African Dust Microbiology in the Caribbean
September 2002
Gene Shinn, Chris Reich, and Don Hickey Receive SEPM Award
May 2000

Related Websites
Science on His Own Terms
New York Times
Gene Shinn - Science - 1984
Dr. Eugene A. Shinn
SelectedWorks of Eugene Shinn

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Deepwater Gas Hydrate Deposits in the Gulf of Mexico

Deep-Sea Tripod System to be Deployed in South China Sea

Research New Reports Assess Probability of Hurricane-Induced Coastal Change

Weight-Based Approach to Measuring Coral Growth

California Mallard Ducks Surf for Food

Outreach Inspiring Girls To Pursue Careers in STEM

Meeting to Coordinate USGS Data Management to Support Ocean Planning

Mike Field Receives Distinguished Service Award

Publications Gene Shinn Writes Bootstrap Geologist—My Life in Science

July / Aug. Publications

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