Wayne L. White has been a contractor working mostly for the US Defense Department for the last 25 years. He spent the majority of that time in foreign and remote places: Diego Garcia British Indian Ocean Territory, Singapore, Midway Atoll, Shemya Island Alaska, Iraq, Kuwait, Wake Island, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, and Ascension Island. Currently, he is a contractor employed by the United States Antarctic Program as the Winter Manager at the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station (WSM). He will be returning in 2020 as the WSM, and it will be the first time in the 63-year history of the SP Station that a WSM has endured three winters.
As the senior member of the South Pole Station, he is responsible for the lives and well-being of 41 other crew members, the station and science facilities during the long Antarctic winters.
White grew up in the Midwest and joined the US Marines at 18. After enlistment, he settled in Southern California and attended CSUF. White began as a Biology major but switched to Geography as he found more applicable classes to his work in the Environmental field. He worked for Southern California Edison at the San Onofre Nuclear Generation Site doing environmental work for a decade. Then he left to travel the world and never really returned.
How did you major prepare you for your career
“My Geography major prepared me for my environmental work and also travel. I was a CSUF senior majoring in Biology when I took an environmentally oriented Geography course. I ended up changing my major as the Geography courses that were offered were very applicable to what I was doing with Southern California Edison. At that time, I was working in an Environmental department. Conservation and land use planning were examples of courses that I took that had a direct impact on my profession.”
Most impactful undergraduate experience
“I credit my professor Dr. Imre Sutton with the decision to switch my major to Geography. Dr. Sutton was an extremely passionate individual. I remember evenings in his classes discussing geographical/environmental issues where the time flew, and I didn’t want the class to end. I used to walk to the parking lot with him after class and continue the discussion even though I had a long drive home and an early morning start. His scholarship and passion for these interesting subjects made it an easy decision for me to change my major.”
Interests outside of work
“I have conducted my own expeditions to remote corners of the globe. I specialized in the interior of New Guinea. I think that is one of the most interesting places on the planet. I’ve spent time in Africa and I was “killed” in the Amazon many years ago and have the newspaper article on my wall at home as proof.