Monday, December 27, 2004

Jack the Lad

With Jack Harris (L)
I really should say a little about my PhD mentor, Jack Harris. Jack (on left in photo) is really the reason why I'm back in Plymouth. If it hadn't been for his encouragement and direction 30 years ago I may not have climbed to my current dizzy heights of academic achievement! Herr..humm! Seriously though, Jack was a wonderful supervisor. He always steered me in the right direction without ever resorting to micromanagement. He also gave me confidence in my own abilities. I've attempted to emulate his management/teaching style in my own supervision of graduate students although this hasn't always been successful. Many students have wanted a more direct relationship which in my view only leads to PhD graduates who are just technicians and completely lack the ability to think independently.

Anyway my point is that Jack is a superb scientist, immunologist and teacher and has nurtured several generations of postgraduate students of which I was the first PhD. He is also a complete intellectual in that he is extremely knowledgable regarding literature, music, politics, history and social science. Thus I hold in in the highest regard and am very grateful to him for his formative influence.

Now Jack will, hopefully, forgive me for saying this but he used to be a bit of a wild man in his youth. Now in middle age a certain mellowness has set in. Before I left his house for my journey back to Heathrow, he gave me a bag of sandwiches he had made himself as well as a packet of crisps (potato chips) and an apple. An unbelievably sweet gesture; -I was so touched. A truly great man.


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