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What was your previous position and where?I was an NIH postdoctoral research neurophysiologist and then an assistant research neurophysiologist in the Brain Research Institute and Department of Neurology at the UCLA School of Medicine in Los Angeles, where I performed epilepsy studies with primates. I got there by a circuitous route, with an electrical engineering degree from the University of Illinois and graduate degrees in biomedical engineering and physiology from Iowa State University.
What brought you to LSU?I had been on an NIH-funded soft money position at UCLA, and wanted a more secure tenure-track position. Plus I missed teaching — I had been an instructor in the Department of Mathematics at Iowa State. The newly opened LSU School of Veterinary Medicine was looking for a biomedical engineer to also teach physiology. I knew one of the current faculty from graduate school, liked what I saw of the soon-to-be-opened veterinary school building, and was excited by the chance to be involved in the new professional program and graduate program. So, in the fall of 1978 I joined the faculty of LSU instead of taking an offered position in Boston.
What is your research interest?Broadly, my interest is in neurology. More specifically, I am interested in deafness in animals, epilepsy and electrodiagnostic tests of neural function, but I get intrigued by any disorder affecting the nervous system of animals.
What do you hope to accomplish at LSU?I certainly hope to continue to make an impact through my research. Iíve tried to serve the university through faculty and administrative leadership positions over the years. Finally, in my 34 years at LSU Iíve taught nearly every veterinary student to graduate from LSU, as well as a good number of graduate students. Iíve tried to convey to them the excitement I see in the functioning of the nervous system and how it controls every other part of the body.
What do you enjoy most about LSU?The campus is beautiful — Iíve visited many university campuses in the U.S. and elsewhere, but Iíve never seen one that compares. The people are warm and friendly. Despite our funding issues and the problems facing our state, itís wonderful to have a job where you love what you do. My three children graduated from LSU, and it wouldnít surprise me if my grandchildren do so too.
What are your major accomplishments?I began to study deafness when a student who bred Dalmatians asked me to test hearing in a litter of her puppies, since deafness is a known problem in that breed. In the intervening years Iíve tested hearing in more than 10,000 dogs and along the way have become the go-to person internationally in this area. I recently published "Deafness in Dogs and Cats," the only book on this topic, a resource to researchers, veterinarians and dog owners. Iíve also contributed by developing and standardizing electrodiagnostic tests of neural function in a variety of domestic species. Finally, Iíve had the delight of opening the eyes of a whole generation of veterinary students to the beauty of the brain — some of my current students are the children of students I taught in my early years at LSU and a good number of our current faculty were once students of mine! I very much enjoy continued contact with many of my former students.