He began college at the University of Oklahoma and then followed both his grandfather and father to the University of Michigan. He graduated from Michigan in 1950 (BS) and 1951 (MS). Later he received a PhD from Columbia University.
In 1958 he accepted a faculty position at the University of Wisconsin from which he retired in 1994. Bob's academic career focused primarily on sedimentology, tectonics, and the evolution of the Earth. He conducted research in Wisconsin's Baraboo Hills, Oregon, Tierra del Fuego, South Georgia Island, and Antarctica. In 1971 Bob co-authored with Roger Batten a textbook of earth history, Evolution of the Earth, (now co-authored with D.R. Prothero). Royalties from this book helped pay college tuition for his five children.
Later in his career Bob developed a deep interest in the history of geology. He created a course in the subject and published studies of several important geologists. After retiring from teaching Bob continued to contribute to the history of geology and to the knowledge of Wisconsin geology. In 2004 he and co-author John W. Attig published Roadside Geology of Wisconsin.