Dr. Keith Brodie was my mentor. He sponsored my Human Biology special project. I chose to study psychiatrists' attitudes concerning LGBT people. Under Dr. Brodie's supervision, I learned how to do social science research. My entire career has been devoted to a continuation of the type of LGBT research I began under his tutelage. I am currently conducting an ongoing longitudinal study of lesbian families that is now in its 28th year. In 2013, I presented a series of lectures on this study at Duke University, where I was introduced by Dr. Brodie, president emeritus.
I was going to be a math major which was reinforced when Professor Baker congratulated me on having the highest score on the calculus final my freshman year. However, the next year I hit differentials and realized that mathematicians just had a different world view and brain than I had. My freshman dorm mate Dede Robbins came back one day raving about the new human biology program so I went to one lecture (I think an anthropology lecture) and I was hooked. Christina's story continued.
Human bio provided an integrated look at the world and life and I have never ceased doing that. If we run our lives and businesses with an integrated respective including purpose, profit, people, and planet we can achieve joy and meaning.
Human Biology changed my life - twice. Through the program I had the opportunity to visit Gombe Stream Research Center to study chimpanzees. After 6 months at Gombe, I decided that medicine wasn't all that interesting and became a professional biologist. Over the next 30 years, I pursued an academic career of teaching and research. In 2002, I returned to Gombe to revisit the forest that had meant so much to me. I was so struck by the loss of forest surrounding Gombe (due to human population expansion) and its effect on Gombe's chimpanzees that I decided to take action. Catherine's story continued.
I will never forget the standing ovations for Dr. Pittendrigh's first two lectures or Don Kennedy demonstrating how frogs jump on his hands and knees in Cubberley Auditorium. As part of the inaugural class of Hum Bio, we worked with the senior faculty to work out a few kinks in the program. Initially the entire grade in each course depended solely on the final! Talk about pressure. We pleaded to also have a midterm and the faculty agreed--whew! The faculty were very open and approachable and I particularly enjoyed serving as a student advisor in those early days. The perspective I gained in the program as a result of the integration of biology and the behavioral sciences greatly influenced my career in public service.
Thought I would be a physicist until I met the real future physicists in my freshman dorm. Cambodia Spring on campus and two quarters in Vienna completed the disruption of that path. Returned in spring of '71 with no major, no affinity group, (remember that quarter?) and no clue. Fortunately, I chose to start the HumBio core and got hooked on the perspective. 20 unites of diverse and yet overlapping subjects, inspirational professors, most intellectually exciting time at Stanford...ever. Larry's story continued.
Like Cay Craig, I am one of the group that worked at Gombe, studying chimpanzees - and I returned to continue with chimps at the Stanford Outdoor Primate Facility. In 2008, I returned to East Africa, and learned chimps are extinct in 4 countries of Africa and nearly so in 10 others. That visit was life-changing and has led to new trips and to a book, "Among Chimpanzees: Field Notes from the Race to Save Our Closest Relatives" (foreword by Jane Goodall). My family and I have created an educational and advocacy website, ChimpSaver.org. What a privilege to have been a part of Human Bio in those amazing early days and to go through life knowing the remarkable David Hamburg and other greats!
I am appreciative of my Human Bio roots coming from the class of '74. I was free to pursue passions that eventually landed me in medical school but after a Peace Corps tour and time to sort out my dreams. I have practiced pediatrics for 25 years in an urban poor primary care facility affiliated with a teaching hospital and medical school. I developed counseling and social work services for our patients, way too often labeled with behavior problems when there was actually an unmet medical or social need. I have developed a maternal child palliative care service for our children's hospital families from pregnancy through young adult hood. Thank you for an excellent foundation that helped me get started on a rewarding career.
I never realized how true the need to integrate social and biological sciences would be until I started working in mining and then the oil and gas industry and tried to make a difference in employee health and environmental impacts. Human Biology gave me the broad "systems thinking" approach to make a difference.
I have always had a soft spot for HumBio, and was excited to hear of the anniversary event. The event was very well organized, but I was extremely disappointed with the presentations. If you felt the need to focus on politics, it should at least have been even-handed. One speaker could not resist giving a back-handed jab to a prior Administration, and implicitly praising the worst President in modern history, if not our entire history. Completely anti-scientific assumptions were made that, if one fails to completely fall in line with liberal orthodoxy (e.g, on "climate change), one MUST have a "political agenda." Mark's story continued.
Seeing great instructors and people who lived their belief system influenced me greatly. Jane Goodall who put her life on the line to protect and study primates, Dr. Kennedy who was a fantastic mentor and role model...All of them led me to a life that includes service.
I was deciding whether to major in Biology of Humbio in the spring of 1972. I attended both lectures of Bio 1 and HumBio 1 when the mosquitos in the bromeliads in Trinidad captured my interest forever. I was hooked. I loved all of my HumBio classes including Human Sexuality with our freshman dorm in Mem Aud the winter of 1972. No textbook then, and everyone asked, "is there a lab?" My final class in college was Practical Plant Biology. We learned to plant a garden and harvested it in June. The spring after graduation and before med school, I was a TA in HumBio 1.
I was in Jane Goodall's class and on the last day someone wore an ape suit and gave her a bouquet of roses! HumBio gave me a comprehensive overview of people, helping me glimpse the mysterious links between our physical and social aspects. I liked the flexibility we had to design our own program focus. It helped me adapt to changing careers: housing developer, city planner, mom, community organizer, children and youth ministry, and artist. Now I teach children to be creative thinkers through art and laughter! Thanks!
I can still do the baboon alarm bark and the chimpanzee "excited, I've found food" calls from Jane Goodall's class - great party tricks and highly amusing to small children. I frequently quote Ehrlich's Rule Number One: "Don't Be Stupid." Great program, my first preference is to this day a very wide-ranging set of viewpoints when looking at any particular problem.
As a Human Biology student adviser, teaching assistant and research assistant, I had the privilege of working with some of the best professors Stanford had to offer: Donald Kennedy, David Hamburg, Jane Goodall among others. I learned how to make things happen through coordination and collaboration, and in a lifetime of public service, have never forgotten the essential message of integration of the physical and social sciences. It was the best undergraduate education I could have hoped for.
I have always loved seeing the big picture, but Human Biology taught me the importance of learning the basics to give depth to the broader connections. So I did family medicine in a small Idaho town for 17 years but came to believe the health of my community could be more affected by public policy than 15 minute office visits. Stanford gave me a sense of place; I love Idaho. It is a great pleasure to serve my constituents, my patients, and the common good.
"Interdepartmental" was the hook that brought me to Human Bio. To look at the world and assess it from multiple disciplines became the inspiration for my career as an Emergency Physician and interest in injury prevention and public advocacy. The crew of students and faculty became my family during my time in Hum Bio. Fruit flies, Human Sexuality (yes I was a TA and people did call to complain about their "C" grade), Drs. Goodall and Hamburg, studying primates at SLAC, the Gombe veterans, and 4 student group discussions with Dr. Don Kennedy all left a lasting impression.
HumBio was just what I wanted to do: biology, social science and policy. It broadened my perspectives and deepened my understanding. Not sure why knuckle-walking sticks in my head, but I've seen plenty of it in politics since! I have enjoyed many years in community-oriented family practice in low-income communities, environmental health, running a city and state health department, fighting epidemics (monkeypox from prarie dogs was the weirdest) and now work at CDC connecting medicine and public health through the electronic health record. Can't think of a part of it that wasn't HumBio (but wished I'd spent more time with the garage computer crowd back then...)
Learning the science core helped me to go on to become more focused on Medicine. I subsequently went to Medical School and now practice Emergency Medicine in a small town in Nevada.
Although I have rarely referred to my Human Bio background during my accounting career, I remain fascinated by the fields of neurobiology, psychology & sociology. It has framed my perspective on human behavior. Oh, and I still fondly remember all those great lecturers: particularly Sandy Dornbusch, my all time favorite.
I have been working the field of preventive medicine and public health for over 20 years. Looking back on my Human Biology experience, I now see that the core curriculum was perfect preparation for my career in this specialty of medicine. Unfortunately, as an undergraduate, I didn't know that such a medical specialty existed. I continue to try and spread the word that for those who are fascinated by the interplay between biology, individuals, populations, and policy (described so well by Hum Bio), there are great careers for public health professionals (MPH, MS, DrPH, or PhD graduate training) and physicians (there is board certification in public health and general preventive medicine)!
Hum Bio definitely influenced my career. It introduced me to the idea of studying the cause of disease and illness and of disease PREVENTION instead of treatment. I still remember Don Kennedy talking about running to the Dish and then taking a cold shower to cool down, only to find himself sweating through his clothing a few minutes later. The real life illustration of skin cooling and thermal regulation has stuck with me and now I ALWAYS take a warm/hot shower after exercise even if I am roasting.
Loved my HumBio days. I feel that they prepared me well for my future studies and my perspective on life. "The Donald" (Kennedy) was one of my inspirations.
Effect of Hum Bio on my life - Two things, really. First, I remember designing my own hospital administration internship with the hospital CEO in my home town and spent the summer after my sophomore year having this great experience. The only problem - I hadn't cleared it with Hum Bio and my advisor at the time, Sandy Dornbusch, wasn't very happy with me when I arrived back at Stanford wanting credit. The career advisor at the time, Audrey Bernfield, really went to bat for me, because she knew that for a shy and reserved young girl like me, this initiative was a breakthrough. Cathy's story continued.
Great students and great teachers. I still remember Don Kennedy's wonderful lectures on nerve impulses. It inspired me to become a physician. It would be a better story if I became a neurophysiologist, but instead, I'm a medical epidemiologist with the CDC tracking down outbreaks across the country!.
Since my happy days in humbio in the 1970s, I’ve specialized in humanitarian aid, and have worked in dozens of foreign crises, combining public health, medicine, economics, sociology and other applied sciences I began to learn at Stanford. I have no simple or neat tale to tell. I have written a lot but mostly in the grey literature; I teach a lot, at a variety of universities but merely as adjunct, I serve on a number of boards of nonprofits (which if you’re lucky gets you a cup of coffee), but mostly my work is helping humanitarian aid agencies do their jobs better. Steven's story continued.
HB taught me that there is no limit and to always think outside the box....that there's always a solution around us.
I still view public policy through the lens of the interaction and impact of natural and social sciences on human beings and the environment.
I can still hear Sandy Dornbusch saying, "Things we believe are true in their consequences." Yes, they are. I believe we can make the world a better place. Thanks to all the wonderful Core profs. and TA's (yes, that's what we were called back in my day.).
Hum Bio gave me an opportunity to experience a variety of courses outside the standard premed curriculum. I was able to have other opportunities prior to embarking on medical school.
I was inspired by the integration of so many areas of science in the Hum Bio program -- It was ahead of its time! It has affected the quality of my work as a psychiatrist helping people from different backgrounds communicate, and helping individuals maintain balance and a wide variety of interests in life! My funniest memory was in 1983-84 when I was a teaching assistant for Hum Bio. I actually danced with Sandy Dornbusch at a Hum Bio celebration and got my picture in the Daily!
I worked as a TA for Hum Bio A side spring of my senior year (1982) just as Donald Kennedy returned from his post at the FDA to take over the Stanford Presidency. He returned to Hum Bio for a guest lecture one morning - and walked up to me as I was pouring 'Sweet n Low' into my coffee in the Hum Bio Office in the Quad - the absolute same substance which he had attempted to ban during his FDA tenure... it was too late to hide the little pink packet by the time I realized he was standing next to me...ooops....
After 17 years working in environmental policy, advocacy and community organizing with primarily non-profit organizations including Greenbelt Alliance, I founded Living Classroom, a garden-based education program currently serving 16 schools in Mountain View and Los Altos in grades K-6. Our aim is to inspire children to learn and value our natural world through garden-based education.
I have reflected on my choice of hum bio (as opposed to more traditional premedical majors) and continue to see value. I want to thank another Hum Bio major, Lisa Taylor, '81, for redirecting me at the time. She and I remain good friends. I'm sending this update to express my gratitude for a diverse education at SU as a hum bio major, and perhaps as a story for those who will follow. Hum Bio did not limit me. It prepared me for the diverse experiences I could not have seen ahead.
My most memorable class assignment was in Prof. Hastorf's class on socio-psychology, which I refer to now as the Wheelchair Caper.
My strongest memories are of the HumBio core and some of the great stories and big ideas shared by the professors like Sandy Dornbusch.
HumBio has had a massive and ongoing impact on my life. Perhaps most importantly, the person with whom I have chosen to spend my life -- Carolyn (Hurst) Marley -- also graduated in 1980 from the Human Biology program. In some ways, we are like a mini-experiment in HumBio genetics, sociology, anthropology, etc., raising two HumBio-type offspring, and living our lives together over the past 27 years influenced by Stanford and all of the amazing people and experiences we encountered....I arrived at Stanford not knowing anything about HumBio and left knowing that it was the perfect fit for me, and something that has become an integral part of my identity. Jonathon's story continued.
I am forever grateful to those illustrious, dedicated and prescient professors: Donald Kennedy, Sandy Dornbusch, Shirley Feldman, Bill Durham, and others for their leadership, inspired teaching and encouragement to all students in the HumBio core. They believed in us, that we could storm the world and accomplish so much. As a mother of three, I am grateful for the broad background HumBio provided. I can discuss psychology, sociology, micro and macroeconomics...with my college aged kids! And yes, they do test me! Miranda's story continued.
I loved the interdisciplinary nature of HumBio. It made sense. It seemed relevant to the world and to careers I might be interested in pursuing. I ended up working in the fields of international family planning and teen pregnancy/HIV prevention, with time off for raising children along the way. HumBio served me well!
I have fond memories of one of the main Hum Bio organizers telling us that he was on the acceptance committee for one of the big medical universities and that he never took any application seriously unless there was at least one C on it - his way of telling us to enjoy ourselves as well (as studying hard).
I would not be where I am today without my Hum Bio education. When half way through my junior year I decided to end my pre med path due to the coming capitated environment, I was not sure if Hum Bio was going to be flexible enough for my business interests. Fortunately, I received sign off to change my concentration to Healthcare Economics, enabling me to study the business of healthcare and take courses in many different Stanford departments, including the business school. I rely on the science and business coursework I studied at Stanford every day.
I couldn't have chosen a more perfect major. HumBio taught me things I knew I wanted to know, and exposed me to many avenues I had no idea I would enjoy! I followed a circuitous route to my career, starting with writing for Sunset magazine, then research at the Center for Research in Disease Prevention at Stanford, then nursing school at USF, then back to premed classes. Now I educate on a smaller scale in the office, but also on a much larger scale through medical education, publications and medical consulting for television...and, of course, at home raising our three young girls! Judy's story continued.
Seth is a Wildlife Ecologist with the National Park Service at Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, southern California. Also adjunct associate professor at UCLA, in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. Read about his mountain lion tracking in the LA Times.
I remember clearly that there were only 5 "left-handed" desks in the core classroom (with total seating in the triple digits) and 2 of the 5 left-handed desks were broken or blocked, leaving only 3 remaining for all 10% of we left-handed students to vie for every day. For a class about biology and sociology, I found it interesting that this situation existed, and sometimes wondered if we were part of some experiment.
I am currently working as the senior program evaluator for Care for the Homeless, a non-profit in New York City that provides health care to homeless people throughout NYC, and runs a 200 bed shelter for medically frail and mentally ill women in the Bronx. I have been studying a very diverse range of topics. Homelessness involves pretty much every other system in society.
My favorite memory of the Core was the professor who taught the heart system in '87-'88. He showed up to class one day in a raincoat and had a bucket full of water, some tubing and a pump. He started yelling, "Lub, Dub... Lub, Dub..." and water started flying everywhere to uproarious laughter! How could you not love HumBio?
HumBio was a challenge and a treat, and prepared me very well for a master's program in public health! It took me a year to find out that such a program existed, and another year to apply and get started, but it has turned out to be just my cup of tea. I have worked for public health departments for all those years since graduation, and if anyone wants to know about free condom distribution just get in touch with me!
The HumBio program really inspired me to value, embrace and draw from the diversity of culture, biology and psychology to pursue a life and career in public health and education. Since my days on the Farm, I've lived overseas in Taiwan teaching English and HIV prevention education, supporting and fighting for rights of people living with HIV/AIDS, to my work today at a clinic serving uninsured limited English speaking immigrants from different part of Asia!
I may be one of the few people who uses his college major as part of his every day work. In fact, it was a medical anthropology class with guest lecturer Gay Becker from UCSF that set me on my career course.
Nature, nurture, nature, nurture...HumBio was the perfect preparation for my career in elementary education. I have to teach many subjects and the interdisciplinary approach is invaluable. The developemental psychology was particularly helpful as I work with growing, changing learners.
Human Biology made me realize how multi-dimensional so many of our global challenges are – I think it started with a lecture on deforestation that examined the practice from ecological, social, cultural, and health perspectives. I remember thinking this was way more interesting than mitochondria and interstitial space, so I bailed on any notions on being pre-med and decided to pursue public health. Maybe my medical aspirations were also cut short by an exam where we were asked some “what if” scenarios about Spock’s renal system, only to find out that our elaborate explanations were totally moot because Spock was Vulcan, not human…really??
The funniest thing that happened during HumBio was when we were told that we are all biologically Black and how upsetting that was for a classmate in my small section.
My funniest memory is of tap dancing on stage in front of the entire class at the final "pre-final" study session of the year when I was head A-side CA. I, of course, had no tap dancing experience to speak of, but what can I say, I was inspired. Inspired and, ok, dared by one of the other CAs.
I've had several intersections with HumBio throughout my career. Most directly, I ran business development for KAI Pharmaceuticals, a company founded by former A-side lecturer Daria Mochly-Rosen based on her groundbreaking research in protein kinase C signaling. Daria and Ellen Porzig were two of my most impactful early role models of badass women in science (if you'll excuse the term).
My current role feels like a crash-course in HumBio on a daily basis - I'll go from talking biochemistry to genetics to human development to clinical science in the course of a two-hour meeting. And I love it. It gives me the same intellectual charge as that first lecture where Bill took us from milk consumption patterns to creation myths to Pacific pinnipeds and back again. Cognitive nimbleness is a powerful thing!
I'm astounded how after 15 years the lessons learned in interdisciplinary study continue to reverberate through my daily life. The task of developing an area of study was important; more important was the development of my thought processes that needed to understand how seemingly disparate classes and fields of study fit together. I thought I was learning biology, chemistry, anthropology, sociology and psychology. What I was really being taught was inspired curiosity, creative thinking, problem solving and a lifelong love of learning.
HumBio undoubtedly gave me the breadth and depth of study that helped launch me on my path to becoming a Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist. Dr. Ellen Porzig's class on Human Development inspired my honors thesis in the Medical Ethics area of prenatal sex-selection, and Dr. Bill Durham's ability to captivate our attention through the story of Lactose Intolerance remains with me to this day. Strangely, it was my non-HumBio roommate who diagnosed my personal lactose intolerance with her observation "Susan, you seem to have a stomachache every time we have fro yo..." Still lactose intolerant and still appreciating the complexitiies of genetics, environment, and the interactions in between these 21 years later. Thank you Human Biology.
I always knew I would work in health care. HumBio opened my eyes to a much broader context for human health and wellness - encompassing research, policy, community and industry. I am grateful to be partnering with extraordinary entrepreneurs to bring new health care innovations to market.
I always knew I wanted to be a scientist but I think the autumn core of HumBio is what drove me to become an epidemiologist and devote my career to investigating the genetic determinants of human disease. Since that fateful HumBio experience, I have continued to study genetics, evolution and disease and have never looked back!
My life resembles a module from Spring quarter of the Core, figuring out how to improve health care delivery in government-run health systems. The techy side helps me to understand the science behind things like blood sugar control for diabetics and the fuzzy side helps me figure out how to get doctors, nurses, and even receptionists to focus on making sure blood sugar control improves among their diabetic patients. It is very rewarding and I feel I owe a lot to HumBio for giving me the core problem solving skills I need to be successful in my job.
HumBio was the best part of my Stanford experience! It led me to study medical anthropology, which led me to study leprosy in a slum in Mumbai. During that summer, I decided that I'd rather be a physician helping people than studying people, and thus began my career in medicine. 12 years later, I'm a physician in Oakland, and I still fondly remember my time as a HumBio student, an SA, and then as a CA for A-side. It was a wonderful, stimulating, and liberating department to be a part of! I miss it very much!
From chasing butterflies at the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory with Carol Boggs, to experiencing the wonders of the Galapagos with Bill Durham, and watching for grizzlies as I interviewed Montanan land-owners for my thesis, HumBio helped me to understand the wonders of the natural world and the human influences that are shaping it. I constantly refer back to experiences I had at HumBio in my current work (on climate change, energy use in developing countries, and human health), and feel so lucky that I was able to start down a truly interdisciplinary path as an undergrad.
My favorite part of the HumBio core was Bill Durham's module on the evolution of lactose tolerance. What a fascinating story! I still tell it at parties to this day. HumBio was the perfect preparation for a career in public health - I just wish I had known more about this field before stumbling across it a few years after graduation! Now I work as a health educator and I love the intersection of human biology, teaching, and writing.
In a moment out of "White Men Can't Jump," studying late in Russ Fernald's lab - fruits, including those starting with the letter Q - so Vinita could win College Jeopardy.
HumBio nurtured my interdisciplinary explorations and provided me with a breadth of knowledge that made many options after graduation both attractive and feasible. I eventually found my way to midwifery, and along the way I enjoyed an exciting few years in domestic and international health work.
HumBio introduced me to the concept that healing and illness are the story of disease.
My work now involves helping people understand how the health reform law will affect their lives. I am so grateful to the professors who gave me an excellent background on health policy and our broken health care system so I can draw upon that knowledge when digging deep into this complicated system.
If it weren't for Professor Durham's demonstration of the blue-footed booby courting dance, I would still be single.
The HumBio Program allowed me to combine my passions for International Health and Child & Adolescent Development into a single course of undergraduate study. Also, through several of my upper division (elective) courses I was introduced to a variety of career paths including research, philanthropy, preventive medicine and public health. I am now in the process of applying to joint MD/MPH degree programs and I am thankful for the broad foundation I was afforded through HumBio.
Thanks to the great variety of HumBio classes, I was able to find a passion that carried on after graduation and continues to influence my future career plans. It was my Controversies in Women's Health class that gave me a fantastic mentor, Dr. Jacobson, who allowed me to shadow her in her busy OB/GYN clinic as a student. The class also introduced me to many different health issues facing women. Funniest moment: Prof. Durham's interpretation of the blue-footed booby walk.
The ability to get to teach this material at such a high level has awakened a tripartite passion for research, teaching, and public outreach that has shaped my entire life plan.
HumBio introduced me to an interdisciplinary approach to studying and solving problems that I am trying to pass on to my Biology students. We've looked at how the high prevalence of malaria can help explain differing rates of sickle cell anemia among different populations and how lactose tolerance evolved. And, of course, they love all of Tom's rap songs! My time as a HumBio CA inspired me to find creative ways to interest my students in Biology so they will go on to study it in college!
I'll never forget my years at Storey House. Being surrounded by so many diverse individuals all united by the theme of HumBio has inspired me to study medicine from both a social and scientific perspective!
One day in the Core, my good friend was sitting next to me and, about fifteen minutes into class, whispered that she felt really nauseous. Before we knew it, she had thrown up (albeit quietly) in her own lap. Stunned, we implored her to go home and clean up/get better while we cleaned up the mess. Shockingly, barely a single Core student noticed that this had happened-- everyone was disbelieving when we told them that another student had thrown up and left class in the middle of lecture! From then on, she uses that story as an example of just how focused Humbio students are.
One of my favorite HumBio experiences didn't occur during the Core, but actually happened this past year when I was working as a healthcare program director for a nonprofit in rural Kenya. My parents came to visit and we went on safari in the Maasai Mara. As we stepped out of the van during our visit to one of the traditional Maasai villages, our Maasai guide, Andrew, noticed my Stanford Alumni baseball cap. He asked me if I had attended Stanford, and grinned broadly when I answered that I had. "Oh, do you know a professor there, he has come to visit us!" I paused in amazement, and then slowly grinned and asked, "Did he wear a funny hat?" "Yes, yes!" "And did he have crazy hair and talk really fast and jump in all his pictures?" "YES, YES that is Dr. Robert Siegel, how is he? We Maasai remember him very well!" Even halfway across the world, people know HumBio and its professors. We certainly make our mark wherever we go!
photo credit: Robert Siegel