After completing his B.S. in chemical engineering at UW in 1964, Calkins became the first person to receive an M.S. in chemical engineering from the University of Wyoming in 1966. He went on to receive a Ph.D. in chemical engineering from the University of Maryland before earning an M.D. from the University of Arizona, with a residency in anesthesiology. He has also completed a business program at the University of North Carolina NCMH Management Institute and made an intensive study of acupuncture at UCLA.
His blend of medical and engineering expertise has allowed him to serve in numerous roles over the years with corporations, the military, and in academia. Calkins has been a faculty member at several colleges of engineering, including those at Arizona State University and North Carolina State, and at several medical schools, including the University of New Mexico and at Mayo Clinic Scottsdale.
His varied areas of specialty have included radioactive waste disposal, high-pressure coal hydrogenation, underground nuclear testing, medical life-support systems development (including artificial hearts and kidneys), anesthesia delivery systems, patient monitors, ventilators, and reserve batteries for hospitals.
Calkins has served on research and medical advisory boards for over 25 public and private organizations, and has served in leadership roles for several professional societies and associations. He has taken on various leadership roles as president, director, and board member for both for-profit and nonprofit corporations. He has also been a consultant to the Department of Defense, the Food and Drug Administration, and several other federal agencies. He is the author or co-author of more than 150 articles and publications.
Calkins was given the Esteemed Professor Award from the Alzheimer's Prevention Foundation International and was named Tau Beta Pi Alumnus Eminent Engineer of 2005.
Having served as the vice president for medical affairs of Conjer Inc., Calkins recently retired and moved with his wife, Connie, to Cheyenne, Wyoming.