Richard (Dick) says, "My education in science started when my sixth-grade teacher, Mr. Diehl, crushed a seemingly empty floor-wax can with atmospheric pressure alone. It continued with building a telescope, aspiring to become a weather forecaster, and then realizing in college that I wasn't going to cut it in calculus class. Thus I became a chemist, mostly in those smelly organic classes. Vietnam intervened, when I ended up tending to the smelly cargo of a U.S. Navy fleet oiler. On to grad school in oceanography, molecularly dissecting the smelly yellow goo that dissolved in seawater."
Doing science was cool, Dick says, but reporting on it seemed more appealing. After stealthily taking a couple of journalism classes, a job ad for covering geophysics at Science popped up. A week after defending his dissertation in 1977, Dick found himself in D.C. as a bona fide science writer.
"An education in science and journalism is nice to have," Dick says, "but covering a single beat—most everything nonliving from the Oort comet cloud inward—for a few decades can't be beat. And writing up 'what's new to the human experience,' as one science writer puts it, really is an unending joy."