09 June 2007


My colleague Chris Little has left the building this week. He was hired one year after I was, and interviewed while he was still getting ready to defend his Ph.D. This week, he has gone off to the Plant Pathology department of Kansas State University.

Good for you, Chris. Good luck.

I will always be grateful for Chris for something he did this semester. One of his students came into his office to discuss a presentation, and the species names was wrong – not italicized, I think. Chris slammed down his hands on his desk, making collegues in the offices next door jump, and – shall we say – emphasized to the student the importance of getting species names correct. Emphasized emphatically. Okay, jumped down the student's throat.

"Are we going to have this conversation again?" he asked the student.

Meek response of "No sir..."

I am glad Chris did this. Now, when people talk about having meltdowns about student mistakes, they are less likely to mention me. I was probably the previous record holder for some rants to grad students about excessive numbers of slides in their talks.

Other favourite anecdote: Chris and Mike Persans were new hires in the same year. At a department social function in their first semester, Gloria, the Dean's secretary, was talking to them while we were sitting a table in the department hallway.

Gloria looked at Mike and Chris and asked, "Are you two married?"

"Not to each other," I deadpanned.

That would have been pretty progressive for southern Texas.

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