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Boise State professor joins Will Smith in the South Pacific to research volcanoes

Dr. Jeffrey Johnson helped the Hollywood star scale a volcano on an island in the South Pacific Ocean

BOISE, Idaho —

Dr. Jeffrey Johnson, a Boise State professor in the department of geoscience, teamed up with the actor, Will Smith, to explore and research a volcano on an island in the South Pacific Ocean.

The journey was for the fresh prince’s show “Welcome to Earth” on Disney plus, a show where the actor explores the ends of the Earth with the help of professionals in a variety of fields, professionals like Dr. Johnson. 

“The thing that most amazed me is, here we are, on the far side of the earth on this island, and everyone knows who Will Smith is.” Dr. Johnson said. 

As a professor in BSU’s department of geoscience, Dr. Johnson said the Oscar-nominee actually reminded him of his students when he had Will Smith help collect data of the volcano by setting up sensors and stringing out cables. 

“I like to joke that I was having Will Smith do the exact same thing that my students at Boise State University do when we visit volcanos,” Dr. Johnson said. 

Dr. Johnson said one of the most memorable moments from the trip was when they were all in the crater. 

“It’s an ominous place to be, there are explosions which are not gonna drop bombs on us, but the bombs are going up in the air,” Dr. Johnson said. “And [Will Smith] picks up one of my instruments and he's pretending like it's a phone, and he talks to them and he's like ‘okay it's time to get out of here.' He just makes these quick jokes under situations that for him, I think might have been a little bit stressful.” 

Dr. Johnson went on to say that the documentary gave him a chance to further his research and gave him the ability to reach a wider audience. He said he’s also grateful for the opportunity because it gave him the chance to work with adventurer Erik Weihenmayer, a blind climber and kayaker who can sense sounds below the frequency that most people can hear. 

People can learn more about Dr. Jeffrey Johnson and his research by visiting his website.

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