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Will the Circle Be Unbroken?

I don’t know how it is in other disciplines, but in chemistry and physics, we talk about our Ph.D. advisors and their PhD advisors in genealogical terms. My advisor, Robert L. Kuczkowski, is my ‘father.’ His father is E. Bright Wilson (no relation, but a lot of fun for Dr. K to have Kuczkowski and Wilson on a whole new set of papers!). His father was none other than Linus Pauling, the famous chemist who won TWO Nobel Prizes, in Chemistry and the Peace Prize. So professionally speaking, Pauling is considered my great-grandfather. (The truth is that every PhD scientist has a famous ancestor within at most 4-5 generations—our tribe is still pretty small, so we aren’t that far removed from the makers of the original great discoveries.)

Here’s where the fun is—this semester, one of my undergraduate students is Pauling’s biological great-great nephew! Thus, I have the privilege of teaching science to a relative of one of the men partially responsible for my academic professional training.

Linus was out at CalTech, E. Bright was at Harvard, and Dr. K at Michigan, yet here in Texas, Pauling’s familial and academic progeny meet. It’s kind of a cool feeling.


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