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1980s Alumni Stories

Joseph Deyama Limoli and family

HB taught me that there is no limit and to always think outside the box....that there's always a solution around us.

Steven Hansch headshot

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.


Alissa Keny-Guyer at farmer's market in lavendar shirt

HumBio area of study: biosocial aspects of international development.
I still view public policy through the lens of the interaction and impact of natural and social sciences on human beings and the environment.

Loretta Cordova de Ortega headshot

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.

HumBio area of study: Environmental policy.
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.).

Dr. McDonald in white lab coat, leaning over boy looking at laptop together

HumBio area of study: Pediatric Neuromuscular Disesases & Rehabilitation.
My area of concentration was psychosocial aspects of childhood physical disability with Professor Al Hastorf as my advisor. He and Professor Sandy Dornbusch were my advisors for my Human Biology Honors Thesis. This experience stimulated my interest in research and academic medicine.

I ultimately specialized in pediatric physical medicine & rehabilitation and more recently in my career I have focused on pediatric neuromuscular medicine. I have developed novel outcome measures for clinical trials and have led multicenter international clinical trials using precision genetic-based therapeutics for Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD). Craig’s story continued.

Julie Holoien Giglio headshot

HumBio area of study: Nutrition and Health in Developing Countries.
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!

Kari Grabowsky and family

HumBio area of study: Neuropharm/Neurophys.
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....

 HumBio area of study: Exercise Physiology.

Alan Pitt headshot

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.

Living Classroom

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. With 60 Common Core aligned and primarily outdoor lessons provided by trained volunteer docents and staff, the non-profit organization is reaching over 6,000 students in 16 schools in Mountain View and Los Altos and looking to grow to more neighboring school districts.

East Bay Community Law Center

HumBio area of study: Physiological Psychology.
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.


Merry Lee Eilers headshoot

HumBio area of study: Gerontology.
My most memorable class assignment was in Prof. Hastorf's class on socio-psychology, which I refer to now as the Wheelchair Caper.

Merry Lee's Wheelchair Caper story.

Miranda Ow and family

HumBio area of study: Organization, Theory, and Management.
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.

HumBio area of study: Health Policy.   My strongest memories are of the HumBio core and some of the great stories and big ideas shared by the professors like Sandy Dornbusch.

Jenny Daves headshot

HumBio area of study: Women's Health Care and Family Planning.
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!

Faculty of 1000 Biology

HumBio area of study: Neuropsychopharmacology.
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.

Judy Mikacich and family

HumBio area of study: Youth Development and Gender Differences.
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.

Nathan Selden headshot wearing light blue tie with red squares, white shirt, and  dark blue suit jack

HumBio area of study: evolution of the nervous system
I was headed for political science until I took Bill Durham's co-evolution course, and changed to HumBio. The wonderful mentorship in the department led me to a Marshall Scholarship, to neuroscience at Cambridge, and then to medical school. As an academic neurosurgeon, I use every ounce of my HumBio education every day, doing science, caring for patients with brain disorders, and teaching the next generation. Creative, team-based, and interdisciplinary approaches are key to everything I do, and I learned them first in HumBio. As a visiting professor to the Stanford Med Center recently, I spent a wonderful afternoon reminiscing with Bill about HumBio in the 1980s! 
Nathan collaborates at work with two other HumBio alumni on a regular basis, and wrote a short article (attached) describing this experience.  whats_different_about_human_biology.pdf

Steve Elms headshot

HumBio area of study: Healthcare Economics. 
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.

HumBio area of study: Animal Behavior and Ecology. 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.

Rick Weisberg headshot

HumBio area of study: The Psycho-Social Aspects of Human Interaction & Behavior.
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.