John Van Brahana What lies beneath

Hydrogeologist uninterested in politics steps in to save the Buffalo River

Posted: March 13, 2016 at 1 a.m.

“I’ve had people say ‘Why are you spending years on this question with the Buffalo?’ I’m trying to put science into [perspective] that hasn’t had a chance to be addressed. By far that’s the most important thing we can do … to preserve our planet.” -John Van Brahana

On family vacations growing up, John Van Brahana collected rocks in the back of the car. It annoyed his kid sister, who couldn't see the value that the budding geologist found.

“Walter Manger said the best geologist is the one who has seen the most. So I try to see the most.” -John Van Brahana

John Van Brahana

Date and place of birth: September 11, 1943, Champaign, Illinois

Family: wife Rosemary, sons Todd and Matthew

Books I read recently: A Fighting Chance by Elizabeth Warren, Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey

People who most influenced my life: my 4th grade teacher Mrs. Barbara Hake, who shared her love of geology; Dr. Fred Attebury, my high school teacher and tennis coach; my grandparents Mrs. Lois Thompson, who taught me the importance of education to community improvement and Dr. Roy Brahana, who showed me that sharing wisdom can make a better life for our students; my wife Rosemary, who has taught me more than I will ever be able to repay.

Fantasy dinner guests: Abraham Lincoln, Mary, mother of Jesus, Anwar Sadat and George Orwell.

Concepts I aspire to: Collect your data. Pay it forward. To be enthusiastic, introspective, respectful, employ common sense and be extremely grateful and dependable.

Something you may not know about me: I’m working on a coffee table book about the springs of Arkansas, from Hot Springs to Eureka Springs, to tell how they exist, why and a little history of them.

A phrase to sum me up: caring scientist. I try to see the diverse human heritage, apply the Golden Rule, make use of true wisdom and act on courage to better future generations.

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