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UW Professor Featured in National Geographic

April 5, 2011
Two men
This is among the photos in a feature about University of Wyoming Professor Ken Sims' research at Nyiragongo that appears in the April 2011 issue of National Geographic magazine, on newsstands now. (Carsten Peter/National Geographic)

The April 2011 issue of National Geographic includes a feature about University of Wyoming Geology Professor Ken Sims' research at what the magazine describes as "one of the world's most dangerous volcanoes."

Sims' expedition, which was partly funded by the National Geographic Society, will also be the subject of a television feature, "Man vs. Volcano," that will premiere Thursday, April 7, at 10 p.m. ET/PT on the National Geographic Channel as part of its signature event, Expedition Week.

The article and television special feature Sims' studies at Nyiragongo, described as "a two-mile-high volcano towering over the eastern edge of the Democratic Republic of the Congo-one of the most active volcanoes on the planet and also one of the least studied."

It was Sims' second visit to the volcano to gather evidence to help scientists better understand when the volcano might erupt again.

While he is still analyzing data collected during the expedition, Sims says, "One of the coolest things we found was evidence of a major eruption there within the last 100 years, for which there is no historical record. Understanding the timing and magnitude of past eruptions is critical for accessing future eruptions. In volcanology the past is the key to the future."

An excerpt from the magazine follows:

"Sims is 50 years old, an avid rock climber and former professional mountain guide. He doesn't like cities; he's allergic to crowds. He dresses as if life were one long camping trip.

"A professor at the University of Wyoming, he lives in Laramie with his wife and two young children. He hasn't owned a TV set in 25 years. Volcano science has never been a safe occupation-more than 20 scientists have died on volcanoes in the past 30 years.

"Sims carries a scar on his right arm from Sicily's Mount Etna, where his shirt melted into his skin. He's even-tempered and analytical and seemingly never off duty. He once wrote a paper on a restaurant tablecloth, scribbling until 3 a.m. Then he took the tablecloth home."

To read the full story, visit

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