National Geographic: Andrés Ruzo, geothermal researcher

National Geographic has launched its new Explorers web site, which includes SMU graduate student Andrés Ruzo.

The Explorers site acknowledges the work of the world’s scientists whose research is made possible in part through funding from National Geographic.

In a video description of the site, National Geographic explains: “In 1888 a club was formed, with a mission to explore. Today that spirit lives on in a new generation of National Geographic explorers. Innovative thinkers who redefine exploration. Living the mission and making the world a better place.”

Ruzo is a graduate student in Roy M. Huffington Department of Earth Sciences in Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences.

His focus is developing geothermal fields and technologies throughout the Americas, including collecting data to develop a geothermal map of Peru.

Read the National Geographics’ Q&A with Ruzo.

EXCERPT:

What did you want to be when you were growing up?
For me, it was never what I wanted to be, but rather what I wanted to do with my life. I’ve wanted to be just about everything from a zoologist to an actor to a diplomat, and even a monk. However, what I want to do with my life has never changed: I want to be a force of positive change in the world.

How did you get started in your field of work?
There is really no exact start, but rather, a lifetime of small coincidences that have led me to the world of geothermal energy.

As a boy I would spend my summers on the family farm in Nicaragua, which rests on top of a volcano called the Casita Volcano. I was able to see firsthand the power of the Earth’s heat. Later, as an undergrad at Southern Methodist University (SMU), these childhood memories inspired me to take a volcanology class. The first time I opened my class textbook, there on the page was a photo of the Casita Volcano! This created a personal connection with the subject that awakened my passion for geology. My desire to learn more about the Earth’s heat, and how we can harness it for power, eventually led me to the SMU Geothermal Lab, where I have studied, researched, and pursued my career in geology for the past six years.

What inspires you to dedicate your life to energy issues?
Energy can turn deserts into fertile cropland, alleviate the struggle for resources, and permit seven billion people to live longer, healthier, more comfortable lives. Simultaneously, a nation’s economic and environmental prosperity, as well as its international power, are also tied with how that nation uses and creates energy.

Energy is a kingpin problem. By solving our energy issues, we simultaneously take care of other major world problems. The way I see it, by dedicating myself to energy, I am also fighting for the environment, national security, international relations, overpopulation, and economic problems, to name a few.

Although energy can do all of this, it often comes at a cost to our health and environment. This is where green energy comes in. Although I support all green energy development and believe that the right answer lies in developing local resources, given its base-load nature and its tremendous potential synergy with the oil and gas industry, I believe geothermal is the energy world’s sleeping giant.

Good business sense and good environmental practices do not have to be mutually exclusive. It is our job as consumers to ensure that the market demands both practices from corporations. I see geothermal as the best way to reach this end, so it is easy to want to dedicate my life to it—one solution that solves multiple problems.

Read the National Geographics’ Q&A with Ruzo.

SMU is a nationally ranked private university in Dallas founded 100 years ago. Today, SMU enrolls nearly 11,000 students who benefit from the academic opportunities and international reach of seven degree-granting schools. For more information see www.smu.edu.

SMU has an uplink facility located on campus for live TV, radio, or online interviews. To speak with an SMU expert or book an SMU guest in the studio, call SMU News & Communications at 214-768-7650.

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