A sudden impulse led me to go web surfing in search of my fellow banana slugs from the halcyon days (for me at least) of ’92/’93 and wow did I hit a gold mine! For those reader who may not know this, the banana slug is the mascot of the University of California, Santa Cruz (See logo on top). I became a slug because I went through a graduate certificate program in science writing there, which not only turned me into a writer but also gave me such a taste for the graduate school experience that I proceeded to become a tenure-track grad student for about a decade and a half after that. Even now with Ph.D. in hand I have embarked on yet another Masters – this time a distance learning one in museum studies, which also has its roots in slug land, since I’m doing it to extend my repertoire as a science writer. But that’s a tangent I’ll take off in a separate post – back to the slugs…

Virtually every one of my classmates from that batch has gone on to impressive achievements, and I can’t say I’m surprised, though am proud as Punch (to borrow a phrase I haven’t used since my Enid Blyton-reading days, er.. think teen, rather pre-teen years!) of the bunch of us. I am also somewhat lighter in the pocket but richer immeasurably in what I can safely believe will be good if not great reads.

In no particular order of favoritism, here’s where we are now…

Rusten Hogness – The guy to whom I owe the title of my blog. Peregrines are obviously not the only birds on Rusten’s brain as you can see from his website. He runs a cool radio station out of Santa Cruz where you can listen to all manner of birdsong among other things. Rusten is also the person who planted the first seeds of interest about the history of medicine/science in my brain.

Lisa Seachrist – Lisa’s background coming into the program was the one closest to my own and we were of an age besides. So I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised to find out that of all our cohort, it was the two of us wrote books on genes and such – and coincidentally within a year of each other – although her’s is  likely to be a more accessible and fun read than mine. Certainly it hooks you in by its very title: When a gene makes you smell like a fish… (ha ha bad pun, fully intended). And it is illustrated to boot.

Lisa Strong-Aufhauser – Go figure in a class of 10, we had two Lisas. Not there was the slightest chance of ever confusing them with each other! Each was too individual in her own right.  A tall red-head with cascades of hair the color of autumn and a personality as just as vibrant, this Lisa was the most animated and energetic of us all. She was a natural history photographer who had lived in Yosemite before moving to the Santa Cruz hills just before embarking on this course. She and her husband Kim (an honorary member of our class) were the hosts to many a party (Hallowe’en, Thanksgiving etc) at the Schloss Stronghauser where the whole lot of us would converge for a riotous time. In her quieter moments, Lisa loved to photograph oak trees. She makes movies now besides doing work for the Exploratorium and has traveled (more…)