Chances are, if there’s been an environmental disaster in this country in the past 30 years, Gregory Meeker knows about it. As a geologist for the U.S. Geological Survey, he analyzes the health effects of airborne particles.
He analyzed ash when Mt. St. Helens erupted, smoke when Southern California nearly burned up in wildfires, and the stagnant air of post-Hurricane Katrina New Orleans. He was also part of the World Trade Center Technical Expert Review Panel that the Environmental Protection Agency put together to analyze dust in Lower Manhattan after the World Trade Centers collapsed.
“I’m stuck in the lab a lot,” Meeker said. “The focus of my work is micro-analysis on all kinds of samples, everything from meteorites to asbestos.”
Meeker published a paper on the Libby mineralogy in 2003 that characterized the vermiculite, tremolite asbestos and accompanying minerals of Zonolite Mountain. That report will be used in the trial U.S. v. W.R. Grace & Co. as a reference for defining the Libby mineralogy, according to court documents.
“I’ve been working on asbestos for the last 10 years,” Meeker said. “Seems like I’ve been doing the same thing for a long time.”
Meeker started with the USGS in 1989 and has done mostly particulate analysis for them, recently stepping down as head of the survey’s electron micro-beam lab in Denver. He’s published a long list of articles on health and the environment, the most recent in the Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology.
Meeker received both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in geology from the University of California, Los Angeles. After graduate school he studied meteorites as a research assistant at California Technical Institute.
He then went on to work for a commercial analytical company in the San Francisco area. The company specialized in semi-conductor analysis, and while Meeker was with this company he worked on a project for NASA.
Meeker is originally from Chicago and now lives in Denver. If he’s not in the lab, he said he’s probably out taking photographs or playing “old time fiddle” with his two children.
– Will Grant