This week our friend Leslea, the Berkeley paleontologist whose work I've written about before, came back to C-U where her career--and our friendship--started. We met each other in 2000 after discovering through the small world that is State College, PA (Cheryl Glenn lived next door to Leslea's advisor) that we'd both landed jobs at Illinois. So with PhDs from Penn State, each heading to the same campus for first jobs, we had an instant connection. And as young women from a non-ivy school and (crucially) from very different disciplines, that connection became more vital and sustaining than we could have imagined. But it got a little eerie from there: we also grew up in the same area of the country (the mid-south), went to identical seeming small public high schools, and followed similarly accidental routes to graduate school. Since Leslea studies, among other things, baboon teeth, our friend Patrick and I nicknamed her "monkey princess," and it stuck. Needless to say, yesterday when we met up, I shrieked with delight when I noticed the shoes she was wearing:
So we walked those monkey shoes around downtown C, drove by L's old place, toasted her recent NSF grant, ate mexican food, and did some major catching up. As I told Leslea when I dropped her off at the airport, if Berkeley weren't so damned good for her career, I'd be begging her to come on back for good.
[Update! If you're curious about what paleontologists do, here's a terrific Colbert interview with one. Hilarity!]