Moira got her start in geology at age six on a family road trip throughout the American Southwest, where she purchased a box of mineral specimens for a dollar and was hooked for life. As a teen growing up in Seattle, Washington, she spent most of her free time climbing and skiing and marveling at the diversity of rocks and landscapes. She attended Pomona College, California, discovered a passion for mapping on weekend camping trips to the Mojave, and envisioned a career where she could do just that. But recession loomed when she graduated in 1983, and she sought the shelter of graduate school at Western Washington University, where she found herself in the company of radical tectonicists at a time when the concept of far-traveled terranes was just being recognized. Her advisor, Ned Brown, convinced her to pursue a Ph.D. degree, and she ended up at University of Arizona (U of A) under the advisement of George Gehrels. At U of A, she studied the mid-Paleozoic on-shelf to off-shelf transition in British Columbia, Washington, and Nevada through mapping and structural studies, as well as detrital zircon geochronology, in one of the first laboratories in the country that was equipped to do it. At this juncture, economic geologists were still the mysterious guys in the basement of the geology building who spent half their time away earning a living and joked about powdering cerussite and blowing it under the door of the clean lab.
Facing yet another recession at the end of her graduate career in 1990, Moira managed to secure employment with the British Columbia Geological Survey, where she could indulge her love of mountains, climbing, and mapping in the wilds of the northern Coast Range and Saint Elias Range, learning about ore deposits by mapping their geologic and tectonic setting.
Finally, after 10 years of academic training and four years working in government, Moira joined Teck in the Kamloops, British Columbia, office in 1995. A number of fantastic opportunities, combined with an inability to say no, landed this economic geology greenhorn on a steep learning curve, managing a large drill program in the jungle in Panama at the Petaquilla copper porphyry deposit, followed in short order by another large project, the high-grade Pogo intrusion-related gold project in Alaska. She found her sweet spot in the large project environment, working with geologists, engineers, and metallurgists making rocks into economic deposits. Moira spent several more years with Teck, with the highlights including a stint at the El Limon gold skarn deposit in southern Mexico and work throughout the Americas. While not in the field, Moira indulged her love of travel and mountaineering, visiting all seven continents and scaling six of the "seven summits."
The experience gained working with geologists and engineers on great projects at a major mining company gave Moira the confidence to step off into the junior exploration sector in 2008, joining Fronteer Gold shortly after they purchased a large property portfolio in Nevada. One of the properties in the portfolio, Long Canyon, proved to be a company maker. Moira and the team recognized the influence of underlying ductile deformation on the architecture and plumbing of this off-trend Carlin-type gold system, quickly defining a high-grade gold oxide system worthy of attention from a major mining company. Fronteer was purchased by Newmont for $2.3 billion in 2011. Many of the Fronteer employees united to form Liberty Gold in 2011, defining several Au-Cu porphyry and Au-Ag high-sulfidation deposits in Turkey and off-trend Carlin-style deposits in the Great Basin.
Moira is currently the vice president of exploration for Liberty Gold, managing teams at the Goldstrike and Black Pine Carlin-style gold oxide deposits in Utah and Idaho. She contributes to other companies in the Oxygen Capital Corp. family, recently joining the board of directors of Discovery Metals. She resides in Spring Creek, Nevada, with her partner, Dan, three cats, a big yard and a bigger view of the mountains, and wonders if she could ever live in a big city again.
Moira has participated in a large number of economic geology organizations over the years, as a board member of the Mineral Deposits Research Unit at University of British Columbia, a board member of the British Columbia Yukon Chamber of Mines (now AMEBC) and Round-up organizing committee, chair of the Mineral Deposits Division of the Geological Association of Canada, executive of the Vancouver Mineral Exploration Group, president of the Kamloops Exploration Group, chapter president of the Geological Society of Nevada, and technical co-chair of the GSN 2015 Symposium. She is a P.Geo. registered in the province of British Columbia and a qualified person under Canadian NI 43–101.
Moira has been a member of SEG since 2000 and a Fellow since 2004. She was an SEG Councilor from 2011 to 2013. She has participated in a number of SEG committees, including the Nominating Committee (2012) and Awards Committee (2013), and chaired the notorious Committee on Committees (2004). She led an SEG field trip to visit major mines in Nevada (2013) and co-organized an SEG short course on the diversity of Carlin deposits in 2015. She has published a number of papers in Economic Geology, the SEG Newsletter, and other SEG publications, presented at numerous conferences, and reviewed a number of manuscripts for publication.