We humans tend to look back on our lives, identifying individuals who, for better or for worse, had a significant influence on the career choices that we have made. For some time now, I have had the feeling that my Becoming a Naturalist list, in the right hand column of this blog, was incomplete; then I remembered Dr. Jack Gottschang.
When I started my freshman year at the University of Cincinnati, in the fall of 1968, Jack Gottschang had already been a faculty member at that institution for 18 years, matching my time on planet Earth. As a middle aged professor, he was given the dubious honor of teaching Biology 101, probably the largest class that ever assembled at UC; of the hundreds of students who filled the auditorium, many were pre-med or biology majors but a large number were merely fulfilling the science requirement of their BS or BA degree.
Nevertheless, Dr. Gottschang approached the course as if each and every student shared his obvious enthusiasm for the wonders of biology. For those of us who were headed toward careers in the general sphere of biologic sciences, however tentative that initial choice may have been, he reinforced our interest in the complex physiology of life. In my case, this basic science knowledge proved to be both a vital foundation for my career in medicine and a major influence on my growth as a naturalist. A belated public thanks to Jack Gottschang who I never met in person but have long admired; one can only begin to imagine the thousands of other students who share my sentiments. Dr. Gottschang retired in 1989, after almost 40 years of teaching, and died in 2005.