Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Profile: Professor John W. James

You'll find Professor John James in Room 513 of the RMC Gunn Building on most Wednesdays and Thursdays. And why would you be looking for him? Well, that bit is easy - he's a retired academic with a background in quantitative genetics, biostatistics, and computing applications, and since statistics in particular is the least favoured discipline of 99.9%* of biologists (*estimated using a thorough survey of this blog's editors), his skills and interests are very valuable.

John has retired from his post at the University of NSW, but his two days a week with us in the Vet Faculty shows that he has not been able to completely resist the siren call of academia. However, he does have other interests that keep him busy, including sport and literature.
This Renaissance Man and Fountain of Statistical Wisdom provided the following answers to our profile questions:

I was born... in 1935 at Rockhampton, the first of 7 children to 5 of whom Dad transmitted a Y chromosome. I did not pass on my copy, but my brothers have passed on 7 copies in all.

At school I... was called Jesse, after a well-known American, my resemblance to whom is, I believe, in name rather than character.

My first relationship... was begun 50 years ago and still continues.

Friends say I... like any game that involves hitting or kicking a ball.

If I wasn't me I'd like to be... Roger Federer, hitting the ball so much better than I do.

At the moment I'm reading... (as usual) several books : The Secret River by Kate Grenville, Shostakovich and His World edited by Laurel Fay, Something to Declare by Julian Barnes, and once again An Introduction to Probability Theory and Its Applications by William Feller. This old favourite provides much entertainment and instruction, and includes an account of the Galton-Watson process which can be used to model Y chromosome transmission.

My worst job was... shovelling crushed ore back on to a conveyor belt in the No. 1 Mill at Mt. Morgan mine at the points where it had fallen off. By the time we had finished at the last point it was time to go back to the first.

At the moment I'm working... not very hard,

...which is interesting because... that is also the way I worked before I retired.

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