My First teachers in life

Lek Tanasugarn, DVM, MS, PHD (1922-1986)


  1. I was raised in a happy family by my parents until I graduated from CU Demonstration School.  No space is enough to record what they have done for me.

My Buddhism teachers

The most venerable Phra dhaRma Dheerarach maha muni (Jodok Ñanasiddhi) (1918-1988)

  1. Listening to his sermons at least twice a week for 10 straight years (1964-1973)  did influenced me in some special ways.  For 35 years (1953-1988) The Most Venerable Phra Dharma Dheerarach Maha Muni (Jodok Ñanasiddhi) was Headmaster of the Buddhist Meditation School at Wat Mahadatu Monastery in Bangkok, one of the largest and most successful school of its kind.  In addition to his meditation teaching skill, he was also a  great preacher and a revered Buddhist scholar. (For those who have not heard of his reputation, The Most Venerable reminded me of a combination between Grand Master Yoda in the Star Wars saga and Headmaster Albus Dumbledore from Hogwarts School in the Harry Potter series.)  Although I did not make much progress in meditation until after his untimely death, I managed to apply his way of Buddhist study to the worldly studies of science and mathematics as well as social studies and humanities.  Without much suffering, I was ranked 2nd in the country-wide secondary school examination, 2nd in the entering class of Mahidol University (formerly University of Medical Science) and 2nd in the King’s Scholarship Examination.  During my first year in the United States, I took Advanced Placement (AP) courses and examinations in Physics, Chemistry, Biology, and Mathematics (BC) and obtained the highest possible scores in almost all of them.  Buddhist meditation also helped me maintain my calm and composure during near-death experiences that I have gone through more than once.

The venerable Phra vites dharma rangsee (phra maha surasak jivanando)

  1. During the summer of 1975, after my first year at Harvard, I was asked by the Royal Thai Embassy in Washington, DC to serve temporarily as an Aram Boy (Dek Wat) at “Wat Thai DC” Monastery in Silver Spring, MD, where Phra Maha Surasak recently came back to stay as Abbot.  At the time I did not know that Phra Maha Surasak was also a Buddhist Meditation teacher who had been trained in the meditation school of the Venerable Pattanta Asapa (Khin), who had been the assistant meditation teacher of The Most Venerable Phra Dharma Dheerarach Maha Muni (Jodok Ñanasiddhi, above) in 1952 at the Sasana Yeiktha Meditation Center under the supervision of the most venerable Mahasi Sayador (1904-1982) in the Union of Burma.  Although my service at Wat Thai DC lasted only for a few weeks, over the years I learned about and admired the dedication and austerity of Phra Maha Surasak.  I also learned that he was among several monks that were detained without a cause at the Thai Special Branch Police Headquarters (nicknamed “Santipalaram”) between 1960 and 1964 when the country was under the dictatorship of Gen. Sarit Dhanarajata.   His exoneration marked the beginning of his dedication to Buddhist meditation as mentioned above.

chulalongkorn demonstration school (CUD)

  1. Many of my interests and styles were developed here during the 12 years at CUD.  We were fortunate to have good science teachers both from CUD and from the Faculty of Science at Chulalongkorn University.

Jaruay sematong

  1. My meticulous but compact short note style was developed based on that of my math teacher, Mr. Sematong.  The style also helps me with mental encoding, recollection, as well as generalization and linking of concepts.

panya utaipat

  1. Mr. Utaipat was my biology teacher in high school and also the faculty advisor of the Science Club of which I was President.  He had long-lasting influences on our study method for biology as well as our competitive spirits needed to win intercollegiate scholastic tournaments.

SA-Ang Damnernsawat

  1. Ms. Damnernsawat was our Thai language teacher.  What set her apart from other teachers was her dedication to teaching.  She never missed a class.  Even what others would call an “act of god” (i.e. a natural disaster like a heavy tropical storm with city-wide flood) could not prevent her from coming to class.  After 35 years of teaching, she reached the mandatory retirement age of 60 but that could not prevent her from teaching, either.  Now she is still teaching the Thai language in tutoring schools near our old school.

SAMroeng srisomboon

  1. Mr. Srisomboon was the foremost physics teacher in Thailand during the 60s and 70s.  Concepts in mechanics (and a little bit of electromagnetism) I learned from him still helps me to this day!  It is hard to believe that after 30 years I can still derive many if not most of the equations that he taught us.

Tabor academy

  1. Although I spent only one year at Tabor, a prep school in Marion, Massachusetts, I picked up many useful qualities from my teachers and friends.

katherine e. wickenden

  1. Mrs. Wickenden, or Kitty as she was affectionately called, was a model science teacher.  She made us feel that the lesson materials were relevant to our interests and made us love chemistry with exciting experiments and a field trip to the chemistry lab at Wellesley College.  She also tutored me for the AP Chemistry exam, from which I managed to get the highest possible score.

Richard White

  1. Since English is not my native tongue, I had a very hard time with the language when I arrived in the US.  (My verbal SAT score was next to the lowest possible value, something around 400.)  Mr. White took the challenge of improving my English.  He gave me his book on Greek and Latin for memorization of roots, prefixes, and suffixes.  That was the starting point of my English, which I needed to master in order to understand science subjects.  I must have known a few thousand new words while at Tabor.  An expanded vocabulary, coupled with the expository writing course that I was required to take at Harvard, formed a foundation of my working English to this day.  For a full decade later in life, I was often tasked as an English speech-writer for the Prime Minister of Thailand,  for the Minister of Labor and Social Welfare, and for the Minister to the Prime Minister’s Office in charge of tourism.

David K. Pierce

  1. In the early 1970s, calculus was absent from the Thai high schools curriculum.  At Tabor, Mr. Pierce was in charge of preparing my foundation in mathematics.   From him I learned limits, differentiation and integration, up to the intermediate topics such as gradient, divergent and curl.  That was enough to get a 4 in the AP Calculus (Math BC) nationwide examination and to build a good foundation for college physics and math.  (See also Professor George Carrier below.)

Frederick B. Tuttle

  1. Although American students always complained that Mr. Tuttle was old and slow, I was very comfortable with his teaching style and pace.  It was very nice to have him as a physics teacher since his AP class was so stress-free.

Richard A. harlow, Jr.

  1. I had such a good time in Mr. Harlow’s AP biology class.  The class consisted of an endless series of experiments: gross anatomy of rats, analyses of urine and blood, chromatography, electrophoresis, etc.

Jack B. Grove

  1. In order to maintain my sanity, I joined the Tabor Choir and the Glee Club, both of which were under the directorship of Mr. Grove.  I can still play and sing most of the songs I learned from him.

Massachusetts institute of technology (MIT)

  1. At Tabor, I applied (and eventually got accepted) to 7 colleges: Harvard, Duke, Johns Hopkins, Michigan State (my father’s Alma Mater), Stanford, U. Penn, and Yale.  On New Year’s day of 1974 I went up to Boston for an interview at MIT and spent a day touring the campus, where I stumbled into Dr. Luria’s lecture in an introductory biology course.

salvador e. luria (1912-1991)

  1. Dr. Luria’s lecture was quite fascinating, especially when he talked about Acetabularia, one of his favorite organisms.  In addition to intensifying my interest in biology, he helped arrange scientific assistance for my project on pigment extraction from seaweeds of Sippican Harbor near Cape Cod (Advisor: Richard Harlow of Tabor Academy).  At that time I admired Dr. Luria for his kindness and pleasant manner.  A few years later I learned that he had won a Nobel Prize in 1969 and was a mentor of Dr. James D. Watson, another of my teachers.  When I became a teacher myself, I put a lot of effort into making the lectures for my first-year biochemistry students as informative and exciting as you can find anywhere in the world.

Toyoishi Tanaka

  1. I met Dr. Tanaka in Bangkok in the mid 1990s when he came to deliver a talk on intelligent polymer at MTEC.  At that time I was looking for something exciting to do so I did a thorough review on the topic and got involved with it for the next several years.  The knowledge I gained helped me tremendously with my consulting work with the pharmaceutical and cosmetic industries. I have also included demonstration of intelligent gels as a regular feature of my lectures for first year biochemistry students.

Harvard University

  1. I was an undergraduate at Harvard from 1974-1978 and decided to continue until I got my PhD in 1985.  Obviously many people contributed to my interest, knowledge, skill, and style.  Although I have been inspired indirectly by many professors like John Edsall, Jeffries Wyman, Paul Doty, Konrad Bloch, Walter Gilbert, William Lipscomb, Lawrence Bogorad, Tom Maniatis, Stephen Jay Gould   and Paul Horowitz, I feel like writing about the following people first:

  2. D.Lansing Taylor

  3. Lans was my PhD thesis Advisor.  He was also my Senior Thesis Advisor when I switched my major from biochemistry to biology at the beginning of my senior year in order to graduate with joint AB and AM degrees.  During my first semester of my first year at Harvard, I challenged myself by taking a course on Cell Biology.  The course was co-taught by Lans and was meant for third year students. (There were only 4 first year students in the course, including myself.) Lans seemed to like my term-project that demonstrated a correlation between rigor mortis and the level of ATP in mouse skeletal muscles.  So I started working in Lans’ lab during the summer after my second year and remained with him for the next 10 years until my PhD graduation.  I learned a lot from Lans, in cell biology, in laboratory management, and in many other things I might not be aware of. 

Lawrence J. Henderson (1878-1942)

  1. Although Dr. Henderson lived, and died, long before I was born, I include him here to credit the Biochemistry Tutoring Program he set up at Harvard, which was still in use when I became an undergraduate student.  Dr. Henderson was born in Lynn, Massachusetts and graduated from Harvard College in 1898.  After receiving an MD from Harvard Medical School in 1902, he spent a couple of years doing clinical research with the famous protein biochemist Franz Hofmeister in Strasbourg.  Then he came back to become professor of biological chemistry at Harvard.  Among many pioneering works, Henderson established biochemistry education at Harvard.  Most science students have heard his name since it is immortalized in the “Henderson-Hasselbalch” equation (for the dissociation of acids).

James Riordan

  1. I met Dr. Riordan at the Departmental Openhouse event for first year students at Harvard to choose the area of concentration.  At the Biochemistry Table, Dr. Riordan tried to convince me to choose biochemistry.  He said something like “a biologist may know what and know how but a biochemist knows why.”  Somehow that sales pitch struck the right chord in my mind so I signed up for biochemistry.  After more than 30 years later, I’m still glad I met Dr. Riordan.

  2. D.Michael Young

  3. Dr. Young was my Biochemistry Tutor at Harvard in the tutoring program that was first set up by Dr. Henderson about a century ago. (See above.)  In the biochemistry tutoring program, a senior faculty member is assigned as a tutor to a small group of biochemistry undergraduate students and the same tutor would follow the same group of students until they graduate.  After a brief encounter with Dr. Steve Harrison, the Head Tutor, we were assigned to Dr. Young, who took us on a journey to various topics in biochemistry, ranging from contraceptives to nerve growth factors. He also prescribed a few chapters from Dr. Salvador Luria’s book titled “36 Lectures in Biology.”  Years later we learned that Dr. Young used to work on the biochemistry of actin and I have been using his actin work as a case study for my physical biochemistry students on the delicate nature of experimental biochemistry.

howard berg  <BIO>

  1. In 1974 during my first year at Harvard, we were urged by our Biochemistry Tutor, Dr. D. Michael Young, to attend Dr. Berg’s  lectures at the Medical School on bacterial movements.  We enjoyed watching movies and tracings from his tracking microscope and from his immobilized flagella experiments.  A decade later, when I realized that our physical biochemistry textbook was too shallow on the behavior of biomolecules in solution, I consulted Dr. Berg’s excellent textbook on Random Walk, which I still use until now.

thomas c. bartee

  1. After taking a course on digital design (AM112) and another on digital network system (AM217) with Professor Bartee, I worked with him as a teaching assistant in Applied Mathematics for 4 years.  This gave me a solid foundation on computer hardware and software, ranging from discrete components to SSI and MSI chips (the 7400 series) to microprocessors (Motorola 6800)  to minicomputers (pdp-8, pdp-11) and to mainframes (IBM 360/370).   I appreciate Professor Bartee’s ties with the Institute for Defense Analysis (IDA) and the private sector.  I enjoyed watching his conversation with his commodity broker during many of his lectures.  I also love his R-Rated engineering mnemonics, which I still remember today.  Over the years I have discovered that his textbook, “Digital Computer Fundamentals,” is perhaps one of the most readable text and has been used as textbook in many universities all over the world.  Nevertheless, his masterpiece is perhaps the textbook on “Modern Applied Algebra” that he initiated in the late 1960s and wrote with Professor Garrett Birkhoff.

R. Victor Jones

  1. In 1980, Professors Vic Jones and Fred Abernathy got together with Dr. Al Pandiscio and designed a hands-on computer hardware and software course called Applied Science 100 (AS100).  At the time I was a graduate student in cell biology during the day and an electronic and computer hardware/software/system designer at night.  I immediately signed up for the course as a teaching assistant and made contributions to the course even after I moved to Pittsburgh, PA.   During the first year of the course, Professor Jones and Dr. Pandiscio let me  (sometimes with Whit Ford, another teaching assistant) develop a few laboratories for the course.  After working with Dr. Jones for a while, I realized that he was a model professor: smart, hard-working, kind, and humble.  I wish I could have him as one of my physics teachers.

Alfred A. PandisCIO <email>

  1. Dr. Pandiscio is an electronic engineer and a marvelous teacher.  His lectures are organized, structured, concise, and very clear.  His definitions are authoritative.  He likes to approach a subject in a global, unified manner and then proceeds to break it down to smaller topics or “special cases” to be treated in detail.  Although I did not enroll in any of his courses, he was my supervisor when I was a teaching assistant from 1980-1982 and again when I was a consultant from 1982 to 1983.

Thomas A. McMahon (1943-1999)

  1. When I was an undergarduate at Harvard, Professor McMahon was well-known for his “super track” that allowed athletes to run faster.  During my senior year I therefore took a bioengineering course with him on “Biological System Analysis.”  The course was superb.  We studied control theories, analysis, synthesis, etc. just as a hard-core engineering student would have done.  Then we applied the knowledge to many biological systems, including the super track and a complete account of Hodgkin & Huxley work on neurophysiology that earned them nobel prize in physiology in 1963.  Finally, we had a dog lab, where we performed real physiological experiments on a real organism.  I loved the course so much and did extremely well in the course.  My short notes from the course is still useful for my work today.

George F. Carrier (1918-2002)

  1. Professor Carrier was our Applied Mathematics professor in the Fall Semester of our freshman year.  He was (falsely) rumored to be the owner of the Carrier Corporation, the world’s largest manufacturing and distributor of heating, ventilating and air conditioning systems and was therefore allowed to be somewhat eccentric in the classroom.  For more than one occasions, he would start a new mathematical play at the beginning of a lecture and by the middle of the lecture he would forget what the problem was or even what he was doing so he dismissed the class!   Although a few of my pre-med colleagues got very upset because they felt they could not learn anything from him, I love both him and his analytical style of the physical world.  I even tried to follow his footstep in mathematical modeling for a while.  Many years later I learned that Harvard let him teach the introductory course in Applied Mathematics because he was regarded as one of the best in the field.

sidney r. coleman (1937-2007)

  1. Although Professor Coleman was well-known for his contribution in quantum field theory, he was our general physics professor.  In the early hours on each day of the lectures, he would neatly sketch our the lecture note in his own handwriting and then have 4 pages photocopied (in reduction mode) into one page for distribution.  He had a great ability to simplify difficult physical theories without sacrificing details.  For example, he managed to convince us mathematically why energy is equal to mc squared, etc.  At the same time he was quite comedic and approachable.  Click here or here or here to see what others say about his wits.  Basically he made physics more fun and comprehensible for us.   Rumor had it that Professor Richard Feynman wrote in a job recommendation letter that “Coleman is the second most intelligent physicist alive,” i.e. second after Feynman himself!  That’s how Coleman was supposed to get his first position at Harvard.  I really don’t know whether this rumor was true or not but many people would agree that Professor Coleman was regarded as the “brain” of Harvard’s Physics Department during his time.

Gregory exarhos

  1. As a new Assistant Professor, Dr. Exarhos taught us analytical chemistry based on materials in Pecksok’s textbook.  I really did not remember much about what we studied except that we were having fun and I did exceptionally well.  Three decades later I can still use some of the basic knowledge in my work and in tutoring my own children.

daniel branton

  1. Dan (along with Lans Taylor) taught me cell biology during my first semester at Harvard.  I then spent a lot of time in Dan’s laboratory during my sophomore, junior and senior years, accumulating experience in erythrocyte membrane research from working with Bruce Jacobson, Van Bennett, and other postdocs in Dan’s lab.  I even picked up some tricks in Freeze Fracture from Dan himself.  During that time I learned electron microscopy from Dr. Ken Miller and mastered all kinds of biochemical separation techniques from Dan’s staffs.  I basically grew up in Dan’s lab.  Subsequently as a graduate student, Dan agreed to be the Chairman of my Doctoral Dissertation Committee and performed his part until I graduated.  Thanks, Dan!

van bennett

  1. I was placed under Van’s supervision when he was a postdoctoral fellow in Dan Branton’s lab (see above).  Van taught me many biochemical techniques including various kinds of bioseparation techniques and especially the radioactive binding micro assay that he perfected in Dr. Demetrios Papahadjopoulos’s (1934-1998) Laboratory.  Van even invited me to stay with his lovely family during a christmas vacation. In short, I learned from Van the life of a biochemist.

John dowling

  1. In the Spring Semester of my first year at Harvard, I took an introductory neurobiology course (BIO 25) with Professors Dowling, Hubel and Sidman.  I learned some basic neurophysiology and basic retinal processing from John but did not spend much time in his laboratory since I hanged out  more with Ron Calabrese’s group nextdoors, where modeling of leech’s neural circuits were being carried out.  Nevertheless, what I learned from John enabled me to appreciate more recent developments such as the lateral inhibition studies by Markus Meister.

David Hubel

  1. I studied the Visual Cortex with Dr. Hubel in a Harvard’s introductory neurobiology course 7 years before he was co-awarded with a Nobel Prize in Physiology/Medicine in 1981.  For years I thought I was going into a graduate program in neuroscience.  The interest has never left me.

richard L. Sidman

  1. Dr. Sidman was my professor on developmental neurobiology.  I also picked up bits and pieces on developmental biology from him.  The reason I had to do this was my tight schedule did not allow any time for a proper developmental biology course.

Reid hastie

  1. Reid was Assistant Professor of Psychology when I took a course with him on human memory in order to broaden my knowledge beyond neurosciences.  Reid’s pleasant manner and his enthusiasm with the subject made us devote ourselves into understanding all the experiments and interpretations we heard in his lectures. What I learned from his course was extremely valuable in organizing the bits and pieces of neuroscience knowledge into a proper perspective.

carroll M. Williams (1916-1991)

  1. Professor Williams taught us endocrinology, plus a little bit of entomology.  He was a gentleman with a deep southern accent, especially when he pronounced the words “Manduca sexta.”  His lectures were always entertaining because of behind-the-scene stories he loved to tell to prevent his students from falling asleep.  For example, one story was about how growth hormones were extracted from large volumes of urine in the old days.  Another story was about the humble Frederick L. Hisaw, who called Prolan-B “Leutinizing Hormone” (LH) instead of “Follicle Leutinizing Hormone” (FLH) in order to avoid duplicating his own initials.  We showed Professor Williams our fondness of him by studying the subject very thoroughly and showed him what we knew in answering the exam questions.  Years later, I found that Carroll Williams was the one who coined the name “ecdysone” for the molting hormone in insects.  He never boasted or even mentioned his contribution in class.

richard M. losick <bio>

  1. Dr. Losick was an Assistant Professor of Biology when I was an undergraduate.  I took a course in genetics with him but what I admire about him is his perseverance.  When his research manuscript was rejected by peer reviewers of a reputable journal, he kept fighting and fighting, changing journal if he needed to, until he finally got something published.  Thirty years later, he is now an established and well-known molecular biologist as well as an accomplished teacher.  He is also the Biochemistry Head Tutor at Harvard.

george wald (1906-1997)

  1. George Wald conducted his masterpiece research long before I met him. (To be accurate, much of the work was carried out before I was born.) In the 1930s-1950s he elucidated the roles of vitamin A derivatives in the retinas.  The work won him a Nobel Prize in Physiology/Medicine in 1967. From the 1960s onward, George Wald spoke out on many political and social issues, especially against the Vietnam War and the nuclear arms race.  Many older people still remember the heroic speech he gave on 4 March 1969 at the Kresge Auditorium on the campus of MIT.  Although I was not one of his direct students, we occasionally for many years had pleasant talks at lunch or in the hallway of the Harvard Biological Laboratories.  He was always interested in what was going on in other parts of the world.  I had to keep myself up-to-date on Asian affairs, including politics, in order to engage in intelligent conversations with him!  A decade later after I came back to Thailand for my father’s funeral, I sent a letter to him asking his permission for me to translate his “Origin of Death” paper into the Thai language to be included in the Memorial Booklet, a Thai traditional gift given to people who show up at a funeral to pay the last respect to the dead.  He gave me a written permission to translate and I sent him a copy of the Booklet.  George, I will always miss you.

Paul brown

  1. My PhD thesis advisor, Lans Taylor, suggested that Paul Brown should be included in my Thesis Committee owing to his expertise in microspectrophotometry.  Paul had been working with George Wald (above) on the instrumentation aspects of vitamin A and retina studies.  In the 1940s Paul showed that mixing retinal with opsin would readily generate rhodopsin.  In the 1960s Paul built a micro-spectrophotometer that enabled the measurement of the absorption spectrum of a single human cone.  (In my PhD thesis I built a micro-spectrofluorometer to do quantitative fluorometry at the cellular level.)  Paul was very kind and encouraging.  He was a real stress-reliever  for people around him.

elizabeth r. simons

  1. Liz Simons was another PhD Thesis Committee member that Lans Taylor suggested to me.  At the time she worked at Boston University (right next to one of the most dangerous areas of Boston).  Dr. Simons, an expert in spectroscopy, loaned me a few thick books including Charles Tanford’s famous textbook on “Physical Chemistry of Macromolecules.”  That was 3 months before I was scheduled to take my oral qualifying examination, mostly in physical biochemistry.  Although this was such an intense learning experience, I was glad I went through it because it made me feel accepted into the spectroscopists’ community!  An extra bonus from reading Tanford was the chapters on molecular transports, which helped form my fundamental knowledge on which I built more advanced topics.

guido guidotti <BIO>

  1. Guido Guidotti was my first biochemistry professor at Harvard.  He had a combination of  seriousness and humor, which sometimes students didn’t get because they didn’t think he was telling a joke, like when he asked the class during a lecture on hormone “What’s the best way to make a hormone?” (Do you get his joke?)  Although he may look humble (somewhat like Lieutenant Columbo of LAPD in a popular TV series of the 1970s), he is actually very brilliant, judging from critical reviews that he has written on different aspects of membrane protein chemistry and bioenergetics.  Even though he speaks with a bit of Italian accent, his written English is impeccable.  He has also been one of the main pillars behind the biochemistry and biological science programs at Harvard for the past half century.  I got along well with his teaching style and was happy to have him as my teacher. (P.S. I recall Guido was the first one who gave me the clearest and most accurate description of the origin of Peter Mitchell’s Chemiosmotic Hypothesis.  The second one who filled up the historical gap for me was William Lipscomb.)

matthew S. meselson  <BIO>

  1. Matt Meselson created his masterpiece (along with Franklin Stahl)  in the late 1950s.  At the time I joined the Biochemistry Department, Matt was the Departmental Chairman but I did not know him by sight.  One night I came up to a middle-age professor who was a frequent patron of the Biological Laboratories Library and introduced myself.  That’s how I met the legendary Matt Meselson, 17 years after his world-famous experiment.  For many years I have been waiting to see his name come up as a Nobel Laureate.  Maybe he has received the Prize already.  If not, the Nobel Committee should be reminded it is not too late to honor a scientist whose experiment has inspired generations of molecular biologists throughout the world that a conclusive experiment can be designed if you are clever enough.

David dressler

  1. We are in debted to Dr. David Dressler for his professional-style lecture notes in basic molecular biology and for inviting Dr. Jim Watson back from Cold Spring Harbor Labs.  When I took the course as a seond-year student (Junior Standing), we occasionally found Dr. Dressler in the Mens Room of the Biological Laboratories very early in the morning, shaving and brushing his teeth.  Apparently he had been staying all night in the laboratory.  His dedication set a good example for us to follow.

james D. Watson

  1. I had read and used Dr. Watson’s textbooks before going to Harvard. When I took Biochemistry 10 in 1975, Dr. Watson had just left Harvard to direct the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratories in Long Islands.  In order to keep the upbeat spirit of the course going, Dr. David Dressler invited Dr. Watson back to Cambridge to give a couple of lectures so that we students could claim to be studying molecular biology with the legendary Watson himself!   Although Dr. Watson wrote excellent books, the rumor we had heard about him was true that he seemed to (or pretended to) lack many teaching skills.  This made it difficult to follow his lecture or even comprehend what he was trying to say or write down on the board unless you had read his book beforehand.  Nobody cared, though; they were so excited at the opportunity to attend his lecture.  The lesson I learned is that unless I am as famous as Dr. Watson, I need to be very careful about my lecturing techniques.

Alvin M. Pappenheimer (1908-1995)

  1. I took an introductory immunology course with Drs. Pappenheimer and Sato in 1976, when Pap was 68 years old and sometimes had difficulties walking up to the lecture podium.  Inside, though, he was still young and active in spirits.  We learned a lot about his work on the mechanism of diphtheria toxin.  I really miss a picture of him riding a bicycle that he (or someone) put on the door of his office, with a caption “CYCLIC AMP.”

Vicki Sato <BIO>

  1. I took an introductory immunology course with Drs. Pappenheimer and Sato in 1976, when Vicki was newly appointed as an Assistant Professor.  Her sharp and  energetic teaching style balanced that of Pap and kept us on the tip of our toes.  (It probably took her less than a second to draw a mouse on the blackboard.)  I was not very surprised to learn later that Vicki moved to the business world and managed pharmaceutical companies for two decades before returning to the educational world.  I hope she can transfer (some of) her private-sector experience to subsequent generations of Harvard Molecular and Cell Biology graduates.

University of North Carolina at chapel Hill

Brian Herman

  1. I did my postdoctoral work with Brian after graduating from Lans Taylor’s lab.  In Taylor’s lab, we used very expensive equipment like the Hamamatsu digital image processor and Carl Zeiss optics.  Brian Herman got similar quality work done with lower grade gadgets that was less than one-tenth the cost of Lans’ equipment.  What I learned there was how to set up workable inexpensive microspectrofluorometers that may be applicable to my future work in Thailand.  Due to my father’s terminal illness, unfortunately, I had to leave for Thailand after only a year with Brian.

Contemporary colleagues


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Harvard University professors

(Life sciences)

Upper Left: D. Lansing Taylor  (Cell biology)

Upper Right: carroll williams (Endocrinology)

Lower left: john dowling (neurophysiology)

lower right: GUIDO GUIDOTTI (biochemistry)


Teachers, mentors and role models

  1. The above picture is a rate photo of my mother and I when I was about a week old.  It was taken by my father using a Rolleiflex TLR (vintage ca. 1952) camera and digitized by me five decades later.

(Physical Sciences)

Upper Left: George F. Carrier (Applied Mathematics)

Upper Right: R. Victor jones (Physics and instrumentation)

Lower left: Gregory exarhos (analytical chemistry)

lower right: Sidney coleman (physics)


Tabor Academy Teachers

Upper Left: Richard Harlow
(AP Biology)

Upper Right: Katherine E. Wickenden (AP Chemistry)

Lower left: RIDGE White (English)

lower right: David K. Pierce
(AP Mathematics)


Upper Left: Matthew meselson
(Molecular biology)

Upper Right: George Wald (biochemistry of vision)

Lower left: james D. Watson
(Molecular biology)

lower right: david hubel (Neurobiology of vision)


Buddhism teachers

(theory & meditation)

Upper Left:  The most venerable Phra dharma DHEERARACH MAHA MUNI (JODOK Ñanasiddhi)

Upper Right: the venerable phra vites dharma rangsee (Phra maha surasak jivanando)

Lower left: ___

lower right: ___


Chulalongkorn Demonstration school teachers

Upper Left:  ___

Upper Right: ___

Lower left:  ___

lower right: ___


At personal web sites of many academics, this page would be called their “intellectual lineage” or pedigree. 

here i have slightly changed the objective of the page and expanded the coverage to include all kinds of intellectual as well as spiritual acknowledgements.

I am grateful to many people for upbringing me into what i am.  Although there are too many to thank individually, I have tried to single out a few that have made memorable contributions.

This site has been up since 1 January 2000.  This 8th generation of the site’s look and feel has been running since 1 January 2008.

LERSON Institute, P.O. Box 256, Bangkok 10400, Thailand.


Thailand is fortunate to have King Rama IX as its head of state.  For over five decades, His Majesty has focused his wisdom and cleverness into royal development projects as well as maneuvers that have resulted in the well-being of the Thai people as well as the economic and political stability of Thailand.

In August 1973, I had an audience with His Majesty in the Chitralada Palace in order to receive his blessing and advice before our group of King’s Scholars took off for studies abroad.  The King was sitting on a royal couch while the six of us were crouching on the carpeted floor at his feet in accordance with royal protocol.  The King finished his guidance speech in about half an hour and stood up in preparation for leaving the room.  It was right then that one of us, Bhaskon Khannabha, who had graduated from Chitralada Palace School, arranged for the Secretary General of the Civil Service Commission, Col. Chinda Na Songkhla, to ask the King for a Somdej Chitralada Bhuddha Amulet for each of us.  These belong to a serialized collection of about 2,500 Buddha amulets that the King personally casted from sacred materials and personally handed to recipients who were soldiers, border police personnel, and civil servants, with the instruction to do good deeds without desiring anything in return. (Each even comes with a serialized royal Certificate of Authenticity.) These amulets are believed by many Thais to offer protection to wearers against any and all types of danger.  The idea is the protection offered by the amulet would allow the wearer to build up enough courage to do the right things for the country.  As a side benefit, each of these amulets is extremely valuable in the after-market and thus could also save the life of the wearer (in the financial sense of the word).

Instead of personally handing out the amulet, the King sat down on the royal couch once again, this time delivering to us a stronger sermon.  Basically he said “to be considered good or bad, a man is not judged by what amulet he wears around his neck, but by what he has already done.  We do not need any physical amulet as long as our hearts are on the right track of virtue.”  Then His Majesty elaborated for another half hour or so.  By the time he left (without giving us the amulets), one of us had crouched so long that he could not resume a natural position and had to be carried from the room.

The above recollection illustrates the pragmatic wisdom of His Majesty.  To inspire superstitious soldiers and the border-patrol police personnel with courage, he developed the sacred amulets.  Even so, he taught us, who would some day become the brains of the kingdom, to look beyond supernatural power into ourselves.

As a result of that single royal encounter, I have never had any desire to wear (or even own) any  artifact said to be endowed with magical power.  Instead, I have tried to follow the King’s direction of setting my heart and my mind towards the good of the country.  Superstitious people, nevertheless, claimed that all six of us may have been “spiritually implanted” with the amulet by the King during the audience.  Personally I think such a claim sounds absurd but the idea is a cute one, though.