Tell us about your current career position.
I am a Boyd Professor of the LSU system. Boyd Professorship is the highest professorial rank in the LSU system. This honor represents my achievements in both education and research.
What are the key experiences and decisions you made that have helped you reach your current position?
I have always strived to work hard and do the best that I can do in any job position that I held.
How did you first become interested in science?
I always tell of my first chemistry experiment at the age of two when I tasted kerosene to see why it produced light. From that experience, I learned the first law of chemistry, i.e. do not taste the chemicals.
Were there times when you failed at something you felt was critical to your path? If so, how did you regroup and get back on track?
The only thing that I can think of is the Vietnam War derailed my plans for graduate school. After undergraduate school, I worked for a company that was a prime contractor for the then Atomic Energy Commission, now the Department of Energy. I later went on to graduate school at the University of Washington to pursue my PhD.
What advice would you give to young persons from under-represented backgrounds who want to pursue a career in science similar to yours?
Work hard, find a mentor, and believe in yourself.
What are your hobbies?
Reading the scientific literature and science fiction books.
What was the last book you read?
Contact by Carl Sagan.
Do you have any heroes, heroines, or role models? If so, describe how they have influenced you?
Dr. Martin Luther King was one of my heroes. He paid the ultimate sacrifice for his beliefs. I work hard since I feel that he sacrificed for me and others like me.
What is it that keeps you working hard and studying science everyday?
I work hard and study science everyday because I have a strong desire to learn things that are not in textbooks.