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How did you become interested in genetics?

A narwhal

When I went to college, I had an interest in science, and I got a job at the Field Museum in Chicago. Every morning I'd walk by an exhibition of the narwhal, an Arctic whale, and I became very attached to him. Narwhals are really cool animals.

At that time, I'd really never been out of Illinois. These creatures were from faraway places, the North Atlantic and Greenland and Iceland. I decided I wanted to understand them. So I went to talk to my advisor in college, and I said, "I want to work on narwhals." My advisor was a microbiologist. He looked at me and said, "Forget about the narwhals for now. Learn some genetics and come back to the narwhals." So I went back to the Field Museum and started doing genetics.