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John Avise
distinguished professor of evolutionary genetics at the University of California in Irvine, member of the National Academy of Sciences, and pioneer of phylogeography

My entry into academic science was entirely inadvertent. As an undergraduate at the University of Michigan, I majored in fishery biology and management in the school of natural resources, with the intention of then gaining an outdoor job with the US Fish and Wildlife Service or perhaps the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

Because I had always disliked classroom settings, a career in academia was nearly the last type of employment that I might have imagined for myself. But fate then intervened, in the form of the Vietnam War. I had no desire to participate in that irrational fiasco, so to gain one additional year of student deferment as I pursued a ‘conscientious objector’ status from my draft board, I enrolled in graduate school at the University of Texas.

There, I was properly introduced to genetics and molecular biology, and came to appreciate the special opportunities that these fields offered for studying the natural biological world. My love of nature has always seemed natural and from the heart, but my appreciation of academia and intellectual pursuits was a slowly acquired taste, that still seems to require conscious nurturing.

John Avise is author of books including Evolutionary Pathways in Nature: A Phylogenetic Approach (buy this book from Amazon (UK) or Amazon (USA)), and Molecular Markers, Natural History and Evolution (buy this book from Amazon (UK) or Amazon (USA)).