What is graduate school like?

I don’t know about your grad school, but this is what mine was like.

That’s Monte Westerfield on the left, Chuck Kimmel on the right…and if you know the zebrafish literature at all, you know you’re looking at a pair of heavy hitters. In the middle is Chuck’s son, Seth.

That’s what made grad school fun. You’d work hard during the day, you’d wrestle with interesting problems, and then every once in a while Chuck & Reida would invite the whole lab out to their farm. I think every event at the farm was like the one today: clear skies filled with birds, trees all around, good food loaded on the tables, talking about science and ideas, and then the gang would break out the fiddles and dulcimer and banjos and we’d get some classic old-timey.

Today was especially good, because 35 years worth of Chuck’s students and colleagues were there. I’ve decided it was a huge mistake to have left in 1988, and we should have all just stayed right there in the perfect culture for doing science and living a happy life.

It would have gotten a little crowded, I guess.


  1. says

    In some ways, this was a tough visit. The zebrafish community in Eugene is a work of art, a beautiful thriving group of people who all seem to be overjoyed to be where they are, and everyone I talked to wished they could return to this paradise.

  2. Menyambal - враг народа says

    I got invited to a gathering at a professor’s two or three times. It was fun, but dang, that looks something special.

    I have a dulcimer, and I need to practice.

  3. okstop says

    Hey! East Tennessee State represent! Of course someone playing bluegrass (that is bluegrass, right?) would be wearing a shirt from a school that has an Appalachian Studies program. But, hey, it’s also a landlocked school that has the “Buccaneers” as their mascot! Ah, whatever – I still love ’em. Crazy mountain people.

  4. MG Myers says

    Thanks for posting the video, PZ.

    Whenever I think of Eugene, the lively parties at the Kimmel farm are the first to come to mind. Great memories!

  5. garnetstar says

    My graduate adviser held parties at his house once a year, which were described by one student as resembling “a Hitchcock movie directed by Fellini.” Surreal horror. And that is as far as I care to go in recalling my grad school gatherings.

    But, PZ, reading about your wonderful ones is touching, and I’m glad for you.

  6. Dunc says

    okstop, #4:

    that is bluegrass, right?

    Not really, no. It’s “old time“, which is the folk music which bluegrass is derived from. Bluegrass is actually a lot more modern that most people realise – it’s generally considered to come into being in the 1940s, and the term “bluegrass” itself only came into use in the 50s.

  7. okstop says

    @Dunc (#9): Hey, thanks! I like this stuff (I hear it all the time when I go down to Gatlinburg), but I’m a little fuzzy on the terminology. Learned something new! Thanks for that, and thanks, PZ, for the video!