David Montgomery
David Montgomery

David Montgomery is a geomorphologist who looks at the processes shaping Earth’s surface and how they affect ecological systems — and human societies. He has studied everything from the ways that landslides and glaciers influence the height of mountain ranges to the way that soils have shaped human civilizations, both now and in the past. He has worked in mountain ranges throughout the world, from the Cascades in the Pacific Northwest to the Andes in South America and Tibet, and the Himalaya in Central Asia.

In addition to his academic work, Montgomery has written a number of popular science books, three of which won the Washington State Book Award. He is an elected fellow of the American Geophysical Union and has received many awards throughout his career, including a MacArthur Fellowship and the Vega Medal.

In this episode, Montgomery discusses his career trajectory, which began with a fascination for maps as a child and led him to become a geomorphologist studying Earth’s surface features. He describes his transition from biology to geology during college.

Montgomery also shares insights from his research on soil erosion and its impact on civilizations, as well as his collaboration with his wife, Anne Biklé, on books about soil health and regenerative farming. Listen to learn more about the importance of soil microbiology for crop health and human nutrition. You can also catch some music by his band, Big Dirt.

Related: UW Magazine published this recent feature on Montgomery.