Former Museum Specialist, Global Volcanism Program

Close-up of geologist Dr. Richard Wunderman who has glassess and a red shirt outside in front of tree.
Dr. Richard Wunderman. Photo by Fraser Goff, Geologist.

Dr. Richard Wunderman was a museum specialist in the Smithsonian’s Global Volcanism Program at the National Museum of Natural History. Born in New York City, Wunderman grew up in Mountain View, Calif., part of the region dubbed “Silicon Valley.” He admits he was not a stellar student when he was young, and his mother encouraged him to find a career that would allow him to spend time outdoors. He and his family traveled extensively. “We had adventures in every sense of the word,” he says.

In community college he was inspired by his geology, paleontology, and chemistry professors. He later studied geology at the University of California at Berkeley. In graduate school at Michigan Technological University, he wrote his master’s thesis about a volcano in Guatemala and then earned a doctorate in 1988. 

Wunderman came to the Smithsonian in 1993, after working as a physics instructor at Front Range Community College in Colorado. As managing editor of the Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, he wrote about active volcanoes and edited incoming reports from scientific colleagues all around the world.