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Human catalyst

September 21, 2011

My own UROP experience was a really wonderful one and while I’ve moved on thematically from the work I did, the post-doc who mentored me remains an important colleague.  Recently I asked him about the rather cumbersome process we used to write our first paper which resulted in a pile of double-spaced, nearly identical drafts approximately a foot and a half tall before we printed it out for the final time (in quadruplicate!) and sent it (by US Post in a big manilla envelope with stamps on it.  I dropped it in the campus mailbox on a Friday after the mail pick-up.  In retrospect, I should have taken it to the post-office because I thought about that envelope all weekend.) to the journal.  He admitted that he had no idea what he was doing at the time.  There was no method to the madness – there was just something he knew had to be done, so he did it and brought me along for the ride, teaching as he learned and learning as he taught.  I know now that this process was as important for him as it was for me and, although he *could* have done all the work himself, and more quickly, he probably wouldn’t have.  It was my presence and the need to teach that was catalytic.

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