Scott E. Brodie ’74

Wesleyan allowed me to be an amateur and a professional. Unlike an Ivy-League school, where every endeavor is fully subscribed by avid students who look to make it their life’s work, at Wesleyan I found the opportunity to try and explore every interest – in preparation for my career, but also just for the fun of it.

By dint of careful course selection and overlapping requirements, I completed three majors and a Master’s degree (in Mathematics) in four years. But mathematics became only an avocation. To this day, I continue to read, and occasionally publish mathematics, especially as exposition. What a thrill to find my web page on “Descartes’ Rule of Signs” cited in a mainstream journal!

One day late in my Junior year, my advisor, Max Tishler, asked me to stop by. He understood I was pre-med, and asked if I had thought of burnishing my resume by doing some research over the next summer. I had indeed, but had made no concrete efforts towards arranging the experience. He had – he arranged for me to call his son, a professor at Harvard Medical School, to set up visits with a few researchers in Boston who might be able to mentor a summer research experience. I chose the most promising, and spent a summer working on the physical chemistry of chromatin at Children’s Hospital in Boston. (A Wesleyan Summer Study Grant surely helped!) Three papers later, I was hooked on biomedical research, and went on to a combined MD-PhD program in New York. At The Rockefeller University, I was gratified to find that my Wesleyan preparation for a career as a physician-scientist was fully the equal of that of my classmates from the Ivy League, MIT, or CalTech.

But I had had many more varied experiences than they. I had sung a Catholic Mass in the original Latin, and performed in “Gammer Gurton’s Needle” (the second extant English comedy). I had studied the oboe with some of the finest teachers in the country, I had performed Mozart opera and Gilbert and Sullivan, I had been a Classical Music DJ, and had performed Bach cantatas and Carmina Burana. I had read Shakespeare and Kuhn and Adam Smith,  and read Moliere in French and  Der Spiegel in German.

As a Professor of Ophthalmology, I teach and do medical research (even helping to cure cancer from time to time) and take care of patients – I cannot imagine why I would want to retire. And I sing Gregorian chant and play the oboe to this day. My Carnegie Hall debut is two weeks away!