Before beginning Buddhist Studies, David Riggs worked as a systems analyst on NASA satellites at Goddard Space Flight Center and ran large computer centers for NASA, the US Air Force, and the Iranian government. He had his first taste of Buddhist Studies while taking a class on Ibn 'Arabi and Zen at the Imperial Academy of Iranian Philosophy. After leaving Iran, he spent a year in Japan, including a practice period at Hōsshinji, a Sōtō Zen monastic training temple. After fifteen years in the computer business, he switched lives and entered the University of Michigan’s graduate program in Buddhist Studies, where he received his MA. He finished his PhD at UCLA in 2002 with a dissertation on "The Rekindling of a Tradition: Menzan Zuihō and the Reform of Japanese Sōtō Zen in the Tokugawa Era." He has taught at the University of Illinois, UC Santa Barbara, Oberlin College, and most recently at the University of Hawai'i. His articles on Zen practice and ritual and the life of Menzan have appeared in several scholarly journals and in the Oxford University Press Zen Buddhism series. His current research concerns Zen ordinations in Japan and America.