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1970s Alumni Stories

Nanette Gartrell headshot

HumBio area of study: mental health
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.

David Coleman, smiling in front of glass case library, navy suit, yellow tie, white hair, clear glasses

The Human Biology Program gave me the opportunity to work with extraordinary faculty and student in designing an interdisciplinary course of study. I was fortunate to serve as a student representativ (along with Vince Siciliano) on the original founding committee of the Program. I will be forever grateful for the generosity of the faculty and the glimpse of truly influential academic leaders.

Vincent Siciliano headshot

HumBio area of study: Environmental planning.
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.

Catherine Craig headshot

HumBio area of study: Evolutionary Biology. 
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.

Larry Shore headshot

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 units of diverse and yet overlapping subjects, inspirational professors, most intellectually exciting time at Stanford...ever. Larry's story continued.

Liz (Stone) Hill headshot

HumBio area of study: City Planning.
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.

Greta Raymond headshot

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.

Nancy Merrick headshot

HumBio area of study: Primates, Gombe alumna.
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, 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. 

Eleanor Levin wearing blue shirt and blue/purple scarf, blonde hair, wire framed glasses

HumBio research project: Lipid Tissue Extracts on Glucose Metabolism. 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. Eleanor discusses her HumBio summer research project in the middle of her Last Lecture at Kaiser Permanente:


Victoria King headshot

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.

Dr. Dan Schmidt, State Senator (Idaho) casual pose with denim cap

HumBio area of study: Anthropology.
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.

Emily Polis Gibson headshot

HumBio area of study:Gerontology, Primate Behavior.
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.

Kathleen Wong Bishop

HumBio area of study: Education/Psychology.
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!

HumBio area of study: Air Conditioning?! 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.

Sally Scott, blond hair, blue shirt

"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.

Margie Hoag Mueller and husband

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.

Seth Foldy

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...)

Sharon Malotte and child

HumBio area of study: Native American Culture and Society.
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.

Jennifer A. Pinto Martin headshot

HumBio area of study: Autism.
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.

Neal D. Kohatsu headshot

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)!

Rowland Reyna and child

HumBio area of study: Geriatrics.
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.

Cathy Garzio headshot

HumBio area of study Health Care Policy.
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.

Center for Disease Control

HumBio area of study: Epidemiology.
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!.