Thursday, June 08, 2017

Today I'm thankful for: Jim Horn

Today and every day I'm thankful for Jim Horn.

Jim was a postdoc in Tony Kossiakoff's lab when I did my undergraduate research there.  Prof. Kossiakoff was ostensibly the mentor, but Jim did all the mentoring.

Jim was (and I'm sure still is) smart, knowledgeable, accomplished, and affable, all at the same time.  He was ceaselessly patient: if I ever said or did anything to irritate him, he never once let it show.  He was unfailingly generous with his time and his expertise.  He was quick with a smile and a lighthearted joke, which was never, ever mean or at anyone's expense.

He did good work and was an accomplished scientist.  He was also a devoted husband and father.  He set an excellent example for professionalism and work-life balance: he worked Monday through Friday, eight to five, with zero exceptions.  He did not stay late when something did not go as planned.  He did not come in on weekends if he felt like he was behind.  I believe he read scientific papers on the train during his commute, but other than that, work was strictly at work, during work time.  At work, he was focused, but also accessible and friendly.

So much of my idea of what it means to be a professional was formed from observing Jim Horn.  I am extremely fortunate that he was there as a model during that impressionable stage of my life.  It strikes me that I am older now than Jim was when I worked with him, and it is up to me now to set the example.  Fortunately, I can remember what turned out to be a blessed time in the Kossiakoff lab, and keep looking to Jim as a role model, and I am thankful.