Thursday, June 16, 2011

A Visit from Rick


It was late in the day when I heard a knock on my office door. I opened it to discover a strange man I hadn't seen in many years he introduced me to his wife and son. Rick Nicholson is a former graduate student in my lab. He got his Ph.D. 25 years ago ("The HSP70 Multi-Gene Family in Saccharomyces cerevisiae.") Rick was the first person to clone and sequence the yeast BiP gene.

Rick went from Toronto to Strasbourg (France) to work in Pierre Chambon's lab and from there he went to Australia. He is currently Professor at the Hunter Medical Research Institute in Newcastle, NSW where he works on peptide hormones expressed during pregnancy in humans.

I've reached the age where it's a real thrill to remember the "olden days" and how much better they were than today. Over dinner, Rick and I agreed that graduate students and young professors were much better 25 years ago than they are today.1

We tried to remember everyone who was in the the lab during the early 1980's. Fortunately there was a list in Rick's thesis (undergraduates. graduate students, post-docs): Sean Blaine, Kim Bird, Eric Degan, Monica Fuchs, David Lowe, Marc Perry, Andrea Townsend, Sharon Shtang, Scott Young and Kee Wan. I know where most of them are but I haven't seen some of them for decades. That's sad.

Rick and his family are on their way to Strasbourg to celebrate Pierre Chambon's 80th birthday. When I reach 80 I'll have to throw a big party so I can invite all my former colleagues and students.


1. I recently had dinner with my former Ph.D. supervisor and we reached the same conclusion only it was for 40 years ago. Isn't that strange?

2 comments :

  1. Rick and I agreed that graduate students and young professors were much better 25 years ago than they are today... with my former Ph.D. supervisor and we reached the same conclusion only it was for 40 years ago. Isn't that strange?

    Not strange. And most of it is not even about you being grumpy old men :-) Two objective factors:

    1) Industrialization of science lead to a higher proportion of population employed in science. This necessarily means lower average intelligence.
    2) Scientific careers increasingly suck, making the smartest kids increasingly go into safer, higher status and better paid occupations.

    OT: since you are such a huge SJ Gould fan, will you cover in your blog the latest news on him? (PMID:21666803)

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  2. DK asks,

    OT: since you are such a huge SJ Gould fan, will you cover in your blog the latest news on him?

    No. I don't agree with his position on that subject and I'm not qualified to make a comment.

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