What is your favorite book?
James Joyce, A portrait of the artist as a young man. This book helped me think a lot about my own process of discovering who I am and what I care about.
Do you remember your first classroom science experiment as a child?
No. But I do remember I greatly enjoyed gardening and that working with plants when I was young made me think more about the biological world.
What's your favorite scientific discovery in history?
Tie. Mendel and Darwin respectively recognizing the basic principles of heredity and evolutionary diversification by natural selection.
What excites you about science today?
Two amazing technologies really excite me right now. These are CRISPR/Cas9, which allows us to genetically modify organisms with ease, and long read DNA sequencing, which enables us to determine the genomic sequence of nearly any species. These technologies are transforming our making it possible to pursue genetic and genomics research in any species.
If you would describe a day in your life at USC by using a character (preferably Scientist) from a movie who would it be?
Honestly, I rarely am able to do experiments any more because I wear so many hats. As a professor, my job is more so to inspire students to discover what they care about and make the most of their opportunities in education and life. In this way, maybe my job is similar to Robin Williams' character in Dead Poets Society.