Years and grades at BCD: 1981-1985 (Grades 6-9)What are your fondest memories from BCD (events/teachers/trips)? I cherish the campus and its surrounding forests as well as the close community I experienced at BCD. Whether playing soccer on a sunny fall afternoon or tromping through the snowy woods on a natural history lesson with our Science teacher, Sandy Whidden, the beauty of BCD’s campus inspired a sense of personal and intellectual discovery. I also have fond memories of the time I spent with my four closest friends, and of the camaraderie I felt with my classmates as we all prepared to leave BCD.Where did you go once you left BCD? High School: Northfield Mount Hermon SchoolCollege: University of California, Santa CruzGraduate School (M.Sc.): Purdue UniversityGraduate School (Ph.D.): University of Texas at AustinPostdoctoral Training: California Institute of TechnologySignificant travels: College junior year abroad in India (1990-1991); Master’s research in Panama (1994-1995); Ph.D. research in Peru (1997-2001).
Where are you living now? Riverside, California.
What are you doing now? I am an Assistant Professor of Biology at the University of California, Riverside. I live there with my wife, Sylvia and our two sons, Daniel (age 5) and Gabriel (age 2).
What are your plans for the future? I have accepted a new faculty position in the Department of Zoology at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. We will be moving there in July of 2011.
How do you think your time at BCD influenced the choices you’ve made? I have a crystal clear memory of my English teacher, Jim Fawcett, telling us that he had given each of his children two important gifts – a dictionary and a thesaurus. I thought about this over the years and it has inspired two beliefs; first, knowledge is something you need to strive for every day, and second, there is a stunning amount of information available as long as you know how to find it.
Another experience that is influential in my daily life occurred in Ned Douglas’ History class. I was loose with rules in those years and once let a friend copy my homework essay. Ned caught us because the word “rough” was identically misspelled on both papers. He met with just the two of us – no parents were called in – and it was the first time I was held personally accountable for my actions as a scholar. I came to understand that helping someone else cheat devalued my own work and compromised my integrity. When I am confronted with difficult choices as an adult, I aim to uphold the ideals I learned that day.
What about your time at BCD are you most thankful for? I am deeply grateful for the intellectual vigor and spirit of inquiry that I experienced at BCD. When I talk about my education with students and colleagues, I always say that it was the best education I received up until an inspiring four years of postdoctoral scholarship at Caltech.
What advice can you offer current students at BCD? Take full advantage of the outstanding education available at BCD. Remember that for every fact presented in a textbook, there were years of painstaking scientific experimentation or scholarship. In all of these cases, the failures outnumbered the successes. Keep asking how we know what we know. It’s an important tool for life, and it’s a very important tool if you choose to pursue a career in academics.