Interesting. What specific field of geology are you involved in? I was mainly into geomorphology, with a fair amount of exposure to paleontology too; but the only good jobs available back then were in the old fields of either the North Slope or Arabia. Geomorph was just a novel research theme back then, with even teaching positions rare. Now my nephew makes and excellent living at it, and has his own geophysics company. Otherwise, I'd never go back to 2WD.
Been stuck too many times that way.

But for financial reasons alone, I don't tempt 4WD capability too often. Just wearing out the tires prematurely gets expensive. What was particularly rewarding is taking my dad on all kinds of backroads he was interested in, but couldn't handle with his own 2WD trucks. That was mostly in his 80's and up to around 92 - nothing really rough, or his butt would get too sore. But getting through snow drifts or across stream, and an occasional rough patch, that was realistic. I've also gotten snowed in on numerous Southwest Nov misadventures (north of the Colorado River). It's a lot easier to get out of snow using 4WD, or across an unexpected flash flood road washout.

But back to my dad - he was a rockhound traveling backroads all over the West most of his life, but also had hard geologic expertise with respect to his previous career as a dam and canal inspector, dug up more than his fair share of mastodons, mammoths, and petrified wood doing that kind of thing, and lacked a geology degree himself only because he had to drop out of college to raise his younger siblings once his stepfather died of TB. I learned far more from him than any college course.