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.
Roman's Blog Posts
Roman Dial joined Andrew Skurka for the float and for the four days prior, starting on the White River just west of the Canadian border
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...
Meet Our Biologists
Datta explores the conservation challenges facing one of India's last vast tracts of wilderness.
Our Explorers in Action
Meet female explorers who have pushed the limits in adventure, science, and more.