January 2009

LIGHTEN UP

Evolutionary Biologist and Dead Head

Associate Professor of Biology Jim Langeland and 19th-century poet William Wordsworth have at least one thing in common - an influential sister. Dorothy Wordsworth contributed to her brother's first major work, Lyrical Ballads, and quite likely was the better naturalist. Langeland (a 1986 graduate of Kalamazoo College) cites the influence of his sister, Peg (who attended "K" as a member of the Class of 1980 before graduating from the Bronson School of Nursing), in his decision to pursue a biology major. "She loved the outdoors, and I enjoyed hikes with her," says Jim. Despite that kinship with the English writer, it's not likely Wordsworth is Jim's favorite poet. That would probably be Jerry Garcia's muse, Robert Hunter. Yep, Jim's a Dead Head. Ask him about the summer of '86, when he and friends followed the band from concert to concert traveling in (what else?) a Volkswagen bus. Jim earned his Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin. His research interests include embryonic brain development in vertebrates and much of this work focuses on lampreys and sharks. This quarter he's teaching "Evolution and Genetics" and "Advanced Genetics." Certainly these are credentials enough to answer the following important questions:

What's the best song ever recorded?
"'Eyes of the World' by the Grateful Dead. And NOT the studio version! The live version done in Madison, Wisconsin, in 1978."

What's your favorite childhood fairy tale or story?
"Watership Down. Right now it's the nighttime story I'm reading with my daughter."

If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates?
"Congratulatons! What would you like to go back as."

What's your favorite word?
"Onomatopoeia." [From the Greek for "name making;" so perhaps not a surprising choice for an evolutionary biologist]

What's your least favorite word?
"Creationism."

What turns you on?
"Sunshine."

What turns you off?
"Grumpy people."

What sound do you love?
"My daughter's laughter."

What sound do you hate?
"Leaf blowers."

What profession other than yours would you like to attempt?
"If I had more talent, then a professional musician." [Wonder what band he'd like to play for.]

What profession would you not like to participate in?
"Undertaker."

What's been a GREAT MOMENT in your liberal arts learning?
"Forging research collaborations with colleagues in France. That's been such a 'K'-like experience." [Jim studied abroad in France, and earned a fellowship teaching English there right after he graduated from Kalamazoo College.]

Who's the person (living or dead) with whom you'd most like to spend a lunch hour?
"Charles Darwin."

What memory from childhood still surprises you?
"Nothing specific. Just the fact that I made it through all that."

What is your favorite curse word?
"Well, it would have to be the 'F--- word' because of its versatility, its ability to adapt into all parts of speech."

What is your favorite hobby?
"Playing the guitar."

What is your favorite comedy movie?
"Groundhog Day."

What local, regional, national, or world event has affected you most?
"Obama's election. It restored my hope."

If a cow laughed, would milk come out of her nose?
"As a biologist I'd have to say, 'I don't think so.'"

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1 RESPONSE TO Lighten Up
Evie on February 18, 2014 at 6:54 am
Look at favoritewords.com, it's friendlier than most other sites and have original features.
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