Research Lab Associate

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David Carson is a research lab associate with the Institute's Science department, working primarily on the analysis of inorganic building materials.

He grew up in the small town of Petaluma, north of San Francisco. His mother was a computer teacher in the local schools, and his father was a draftsman, first for construction companies and later for an oil refinery. In high school David displayed an aptitude for chemistry and physics, but his greater interest lay in playing the saxophone in the school's jazz and marching bands. When he moved on to Santa Rosa Junior College, he also took up the bass guitar and performed in a rock band, as well as in the orchestra for Santa Rosa's Summer Repertory Theatre.

After receiving his associate of arts degree, he attended Sonoma State for a year before transferring to California State University, Northridge (CSUN), where he majored in chemistry. While in school, he took a job with U.S. Borax, where he evaluated the quality of materials being used in product production. The work, using advanced instrumentation, gave him plenty of laboratory time doing analytical chemistry. This experience made clear to him how much he enjoyed working in materials analysis.

The first time that he heard of the GCI was at his graduation ceremony from the CSUN College of Science and Mathematics—GCI scientist Cecily Grzywacz gave the commencement address. A few weeks later, an ad for a research assistant position at the GCI caught David's attention, and he applied for the job. He joined the Institute's staff later that year. In 2000 he was promoted to a research lab associate.

His primary responsibilities today include general analysis of inorganic material using the Institute's environmental scanning electron microscope (ESEM); he has been particularly involved in the lime mortars and plasters project and in the characterization of stone from the Maya site of Copán. In addition, he conducts the primary training on the operation of the ESEM for other scientists and for GCI interns. He also has the opportunity to work directly with Getty Museum conservators, providing them with analytic information they need for their work. Another aspect of his responsibilities that he particularly enjoys is imaging—overlaying data on visual media, such as time-lapse video.

In his spare time, David is beginning work on an interdisciplinary master's degree in chemistry and geology—and performing with a band called Rhyme & Reason.