Interview with Gordon Wolman, June 22, 1999
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Markley Gordon “Reds” Wolman was geomorphologist whose passion for his discipline, dedication to his work, and his uniquely creative ways of looking at problems, resulted in a wide-ranging career. Among the many hats he wore were scientist, environmental activist, teacher and mentor, university administrator, and government advisor on the local, state, national and international level. Wolman was born in 1924 in Baltimore the son of Anne and Abel Wolman. His father was a sanitary engineer whose accomplishments ranged from developing chlorinated water, to designing water supply systems for cities throughout the world, to advising on the safe use of nuclear power. The younger Wolman, known throughout his life as Reds, attended the Park School in Baltimore graduating in 1942. He began his college career at Haverford College, but left to join the U.S. Naval Reserves after his first semester. When discharged in 1946, Wolman enrolled at the Johns Hopkins University where his father was in the Department of Sanitary Engineering. Wolman graduated in 1949 with a degree in Geology and All-American Lacrosse honors. He then took an MA (1951) and PhD (1953) from Harvard University. In 1951, Wolman embarked on a career of nearly 60 years that combined research, service to the profession, and educating the next generation of scientists. In this interview, Wolman discusses his undergraduate career at Johns Hopkins, his memories of notable faculty and administrators including Hopkins president Isaiah Bowman, and the faculty culture he experienced at Hopkins.