The Delaware Geological Survey wishes to recognize our long-time research Senior Research Technician, Charles T. “Tom” Smith, who retired in November, 2020 after thirty-three years of dedicated service. Tom’s multiple technical skills and knowledge made him an essential part of the DGS science team, supporting research and service projects on diverse subjects such as geological hazards, subsurface geology, and water resources. As one of his colleagues noted upon his retirement, “Tom's expertise with all things mechanical and electrical will be sorely missed!”
Tom came to DGS in 1987 following six years working as a technical specialist in the fiberoptics industry. He has a B.S. in Earth Sciences from The Pennsylvania State University. Since joining the DGS staff, Tom’s responsibilities grew to encompass a wide variety of technical specialities, including chemical laboratory work, electronics, and field data collection. Looking back, Tom commented that he really enjoyed the experience of working at the DGS, reflecting that “the job gave me everything I wanted to do” when he was studying earth science at Penn State.
In the laboratory, Tom’s work was marked by attention to detail and safety. Tom developed a special expertise in the extraction of fossil pollen from rocks and was able to produce research materials of exceptional quality with high productivity, processing approximately 900 samples since 2000. Tom ran a safe operation in a lab that used numerous hazardous chemicals and generously shared his knowledge of chemical hygiene with students and other UD staff, benefiting the University of Delaware community far beyond the walls of the DGS. His knowledge of electronics allowed him to solve critical problems with our scientific equipment in both the lab and the field, ensuring that important earthquake-sensing seismometers and DGS well logging equipment remained in service. His support of the DGS groundwater monitoring program is recorded in our water-level databases. Over the years, Tom spent many long days driving around Delaware’s highways and backroads to collect data from DGS’s network of more than 100 wells, compiling thousands of water-level measurements manually as well as helping in the setup and operation of automated data loggers that have collected millions of measurements. Above all, Tom’s helpful attitude and readiness to support the needs of DGS projects and staff on short notice was a valuable character asset that ensured our unit operations were conducted efficiently and effectively.
Tom’s DGS friends and colleagues will miss his kind, relaxed spirit at work, as well as the batches of canna lily bulbs he generously shared with us for our gardens. We hope that his retirement will give him more time to enjoy reading, time as caregiver for his Mom, and watching the lives of the deer families that are the full-time tenants of his country property.
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