Jim Kauahikaua

Jim Kauahikaua


U.S. Geological Survey's Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO)

Hilo, HI USA

My heart would always beat a little faster when we’d come across some sort of lava flow.


By Roadtrip Nation

Jim Kauahikaua


My road in life has been direct.
In high school, he was interested in science; the “popular” field at the time was oceanography, so he decided to study that.
He went to the University of Southern California, where the introductory oceanography course plan included a geography class.
Right away, he was hooked on geography; he loved being able to study a rock formation and see what it’d been through.
While he was in California, he realized how lucky he’d been to grow up in Hawaii, such a geographically unique spot.
After interning with the U.S. Geological Survey in Denver, he returned to Hawaii.
He earned his Ph.D. in geophysics from the University of Hawaii at Mānoa, then joined the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory.
In 2004, he was named the 19th scientist-in-charge of the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory—the first of Hawaiian ancestry.
After serving as scientist-in-charge for ten years, he transitioned back into a research position as a geophysicist.
Keep following my journey



I am a research geophysicist studying volcanoes on the island of Hawai`i.

Career Roadmap

My work combines:
My work combines:
Environment & Nature
Accomplishing Goals

Day to Day

I monitor the activity of Hawaiian volcanoes and then assess if they are a threat. I also have to figure out where lava flows are going, how to divert them if possible, or evacuate people if necessary.

Recommended Education

My career is related to what I studied. I'd recommend the path I took:


The Noise I Shed

From Society in General:

"Why would you want to work on a volcano? Aren't you afraid of it erupting?"

Challenges I Overcame


Interviewed By

Setting Course

Setting Course

Science, tech, engineering, arts, and math careers in Hawaii