As a spectrumy 9-year-old I had an innate ability to dial down my waking thoughts and tune in to richly detailed inner worlds. Over the next 20 years this state of mind became my superpower. I travelled to fantastic alternate realities and imagined elaborate space missions. I dreamed up computer interfaces and virtual worlds full of avatars. At 14, the complex beauty of a mariposa lily caught my eye and sent me on journey back billions of years where I glimpsed molecules self assembling into life itself. I didn’t realize it at the time but that experience would set the course of my life’s work and eventually have profound implications for how we think of our place in the cosmos. 

I began my career surfing big waves of technology, building some of the first user interfaces for personal computers in the 1980s, helping bring in the medium of avatar cyberspace in the 1990s and in the 2000s delving into a century of computing to build the Digibarn Computer Museum.

Distinguished Alumni: Scientific Research Award

I then ventured deep into space working for a decade with NASA simulating and designing missions including innovations for turning asteroids into fuel stations and biospheres.

Since 2010 I have focused on my core passion, the question of how life began. Collaborating with colleagues all over the world I developed and am helping test the Hot Spring Hypothesis, a novel approach to the place and mechanism of life’s arising.

Acknowledging the existential risks we now face, in the 2020s I am now turning all of my insight and experience to bring forth a new story of life and actions humanity can take to improve the probability of our long term survival.