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It was there that I met the second most influential person in my life, Dr. Riley Nelson. Riley taught a freshman field course that was required for all biology majors. I will always remember his first words that changed the course of my life. We were out on a tour of Brackenridge Preserve and he had asked what we wanted to study as biologists. My general response was marine mammals.

"Marine mammals? Thirty species, tops. Insects, now there's diversity! Over 30,000 known species of Coleoptera (Beetles) alone."

We were hooked by a spiel I later realized was probably well rehearsed and greatly used by this dedicated entomologist and teacher.

Without Riley's support, I could not have traveled to Costa Rica for a once in a lifetime opportunity. For a month I lived in a remote location on a river between the mangroves and the rainforest, researching parasitism in Lepidoptera (Butterflies and Moths). Riley also assisted me in obtaining employment with the City of Austin's Environmental Resource Management Division as an aquatic taxonomist and field technician for the surface water monitoring team.

Riley once said that we have three choices:

"You can live in an ivory tower and pretend nothing is wrong; you can throw our hands up in the air and say there is nothing we can do to change things; or you can try to change what you can, however little that may be".

Through the guidance of Riley and my father, I have chosen the last.


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 21st, 2004 05:00 am (UTC)
I like those three choices, they characterize well the paths one can take.
Jan. 21st, 2004 04:45 pm (UTC)
Riley had slide shows every lecture, and for the "ivory tower", he displayed a picture of UT's Main Tower shrouded in fog and mist. Heh- where the regents' offices are located.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )