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Bruce Nash, Ph.D.

Assistant Director for Science

My first real memory is of me on a hike by the ocean; my second is of me taking a picture of a flower at my house. It seems that I was always out in nature looking at things or just soaking it in. Maybe soaking in it might be more accurate; I loved mud puddles as a kid! That, along with my dad being a science professor and my mom being a teacher, led me naturally to biology and I ended up studying how the zygote, the first cell after fertilization, develops into complex things like worms or people using genetics in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans: I first studied genes that control how nerve cells grow to their targets as a graduate student at the University of Toronto and then moved to the University of Oregon to study how cells divide.

The longer I stayed in science, the more my interests switched from doing lab work to teaching. I found that I was most interested and satisfied when helping others learn. I looked for opportunities to lecture, enjoyed teaching lab members “worm” genetics and even became an active volunteer with educational groups, where I was a nature guide, taught school children biology experiments in school gardens, and taught teachers the use of school gardens as a living lab.

Perhaps most telling for me was the day I identified the lesion in the latest mutant I was studying: I had cloned another gene! Shouldn’t I be thrilled? I was happy, but I was much happier showing a third-grade student a bird’s nest on a nature hike and discussing with her why the bird on the nest was mottled brown. At that point I knew: I had to find a way to teach science.

When I looked for a good place to teach biology, I found out about Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory’s Dolan DNA Learning Center. It just seemed right when I checked it out, and lucky for me they wanted to hire a “worm person”. So here I am: I found a great place to teach cutting edge science. It’s great!

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