Today is the 29th birthday of the long-term evolution experiment (LTEE). As I wrote on Twitter: “May the cells live long & prosper, both in & out of the -80C freezers.” I hope they—and the rest of the world—will be evolving and improving long after I’m gone.
Anyhow, after my tweet, Luis Zaman asked for a picture of me on my own 29th birthday. (I started the LTEE when I was 31.) Alas, I don’t have one. But I’ve found some pictures from around that time—including just before and after I moved to UC-Irvine to start my first faculty position, and over the next few years up to about the time I started the LTEE.
Summer, 1985: This photo is from Amherst, Massachusetts, where I did my postdoc with the amazing Bruce Levin, who hosted a goodbye party for us. From left to right: Ralph Evans, a brilliant graduate student and dear friend, who died tragically just a few years later of brain cancer. My beautiful wife, Madeleine. Our one-year-old daughter Shoshannah, being held by forever-young Bruce. Yours truly, holding our three-year-old son Daniel. And Miriam Levin, an art historian.
October, 1985: Shoshannah on my shoulders at the San Diego Zoo, a few months after we moved to Irvine.
March, 1986: First-year faculty member burning the midnight oil in our Las Lomas apartment at UCI. Working on a paper? Or getting ready to teach 700 students the next day? (Two sections of Ecology, a required course for Bio Sci majors, with an hour to recuperate in between. It was well worth it, though, because one of the students in one of the many quarters I taught that course was the great Mike Travisano.)
October, 1986: Moving up in the world, we bought a new house on Mendel Court in University Hills. My parents visited, and that’s my mother, Jean, a poet who loved science.
March, 1987: The great Lin Chao came for a visit. We grew pea plants on the trellis below the number 6—after all, it was 6 Mendel Court.
June, 1987: One of the fun events at UCI was Desert X (for extravaganza), hosted by Dick MacMillan, the chair of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, on his property near Joshua Tree National Park. With Madeleine, who is “holding” our Number 3.
June, 1987: Working Xtra hard at Desert X with close friend and colleague Al Bennett.
September, 1987: With an already smiling one-month-old Natalie.
January, 1989: Time for some snuggles. Meanwhile, the LTEE is not quite a year old.
The title of this post is a song by Fairport Convention, with the hauntingly beautiful voice of the late, great Sandy Denny. You should listen to it.