ExplorersBio

Roman Dial

Biologist

Expeditions Council Grantee

Photo of Roman Dial

Photograph by Bill Hatcher

Birthplace: Seattle, Washington

Current City: Anchorage, Alaska

What did you want to be when you were growing up?

A scientist! Until reaching puberty and then I wanted to be an adventurer.

How did you get started in your field of work?

Education and opportunities

What inspires you to dedicate your life to exploration?

The satisfaction of exploration and discovery on three levels: intellectual, physical, and emotional

What's a normal day like for you?

Well, right now I teach four classes and manage six graduate students—that sort of typifies six months of the year. But during the other six, I explore Alaska and other parts of the Earth's wilder corners.

Then a normal day is anything but normal. I may climb between trees or paddle wild rivers in small, one-person raft (pack raft) that I carry for a hundred miles in a backpack, maybe walk in wild places off trails and roads.

Do you have a hero?

Many. Some living, some dead. Some well known. Some not. Some younger, many older.

What has been your favorite experience in the field? The most challenging?

Canopy fieldwork in the world's rain forests has been the most challenging and my favorite. It's extremely uncomfortable, but I've collected data in Australia, Borneo, Costa Rica, Puerto Rico and the Pacific Northwest of the U.S.

It's a lot of physical work to get up there, and emotional work to overcome the innate fear of height we all have, but the personal discoveries in my own abilities and understanding how nature works satisfies me like nothing else, really, other than landscape crossings that involve self-sufficiency and non-motorized travel.

What are your other passions?

Besides science? Pack-rafting and wilderness traverses of the Earth's most remote places as well as wildlife watching and travel. I also enjoy sharing these with members of my family.

Related Features

In Their Words

It's a lot of physical work to get up there, and emotional work to overcome the innate fear of height we all have, but the personal discoveries in my own abilities and understanding how nature works satisfies me like nothing else, really...

—Roman Dial

Our Explorers in Action

See Photos »

Meet All Our Explorers

  • NationalGeographic_1289095-flag.jpg

    Explorers A-Z

    At the heart of our explorers program is the quest for knowledge through exploration and the people who make it possible.

  • Photo: Michael Lombardi diving

    Explorers by Category

    Browse our different areas of exploration and discover the fascinating people behind the projects.