Growing up in the West, Aspen Anderson loved both the outdoors and science, but not until a high school class in environmental science did she decide to follow in the footsteps of her father, Steve Anderson, a geosciences professor. After struggling financially through her first year at Colorado School of Mines, Aspen was deeply grateful for an ARCS award to support her degree work and her research in the links between unconventional energy production and water demands.
“The ARCS Scholar Award allowed me to develop my research career as an undergraduate at the Colorado School of Mines,” Aspen said. “Having the opportunity to pursue research in my first few years of college motivated me to ask questions, and more importantly, to seek meaningful answers. I am currently pursuing a doctorate degree in Earth Science at Simon Fraser University and hope to one day follow in my father’s footsteps to become a professor of Earth Science."
When she told her father about the award, she got a surprise. Thirty years earlier, while pursuing a doctorate at Arizona State University with a specialization in volcanology and an aim of teaching, Steve nearly set aside his goals in favor of a corporate job to support his young family. That’s when a timely ARCS Award allowed him to continue his studies and enter on his academic career.
“Just when I was wondering if I had made the right decision about pursuing my faculty position, I suddenly had enough money to finish my graduate career thanks to ARCS Foundation,” Steve said. “Now, nearly 30 years after receiving that Scholar Award, I have had the privilege to travel the world conducting research on volcanoes in over 20 countries and watch dozens of my own students start their careers. I am extremely grateful for the support I received when I most needed it.”
Father and daughter both agree that sharing these experiences has brought them closer together, and Steve, as the son of a teacher, is especially proud that Aspen is not only a second generation geoscientist and ARCS Scholar but also will be the family’s third generation educator.