Prof. Douglas Magde, PhD


Doug Magde was honored with membership in the Explorers Club in 2003 after nomination by John Asmus. Doug was the sole San Diego member to celebrate the 100’th anniversary of the Club and the 200’th anniversary of the Lewis and Clark expedition by a boat trip on the Missouri River. Doug’s own career in research (aka exploration!) centered on lasers. The ruby laser was invented while Doug was an undergraduate. Throughout his career, Doug demonstrated new types of lasers, invented or developed new ways to exploit lasers, and used lasers for the study of semiconductors, photosynthesis, hemoglobin, medical matters, catalysis, and energy. Currently he is involved with studies of a postulated RNA World that may have preceded the invention of both DNA and proteins. Most projects involved collaborations. In that way he undertook modest efforts in field research. One was an attempt to mark salmon by a laser, like bird-banding, so that they could be identified if they returned to their natal streams. A second involved archaeology. A group of arrow heads had been found in a grave. The question was whether there were patterns showing that they had been made by one person, presumably the deceased, or by several friends, each tossing one into the grave. When settled into UCSD, Doug was approached by a grad student at UC Riverside who was investigating flakes found at the famous Calico Site. Were they human artifacts or just random detritus? She had heard of the earlier project and asked Doug for help. Later in life, Doug, like many of our Explorers, has traveled to remote parts of the world.


Early explorers were often conservationists who wanted to preserve wild animals like rhinos so that they could shoot them. Doug just wants to feed and pat them like this big guy in Kenya.