Nostalgia

     I just returned from a visit to Cambridge, MA where I visited two of the Harvard museums, the new combined Harvard Art Museums and the Harvard Museum of Natural History.  I don't remember spending much time at the art museums when I was an undergraduate, but my advisor's office was located in what was then called the Museum of Comparative Zoology.    In the evolution exhibit,  I watched a video that featured my advisor, Stephen Jay Gould, the most effortlessly erudite man I ever met, as well as E.O. Wilson, my first biology professor. Both of them became authorities in their fields.   When I met  Gould, he was not yet a full professor and co-taught the introductory geology course.   He was a scientist concerned with social justice at a time when many felt that it was wrong for scientists to express opinions outside of their academic pursuits.  And he was a writer, a wonderful, eclectic writer.  At my weekly tutorial,  I struggled to follow his discourse, darting about paleontology, biology, various languages  and baseball (that was hopeless).  I always left challenged and grateful.  He recognized how odd it was for a  black girl to major in geology  in those political times.   He laughed about being a Jew from New York City, who discovered rocks in museums, as I did, unlike many geologists who have rural roots.   It is his support to pursue my inner nerd that I remember most now, all these years later, not the geology.  When he died in 2002, I was surprised to find out that he was only ten years older than I was because he seemed so wise.  It was great to feel in his presence again.