Dr. Iverson
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University of Texas at Austin

Dept, of Chemistry & Biochemistry

105 E. 24th St. Stop, A5300

Austin, TX 78712-0165

I was born in Ann Arbor, but my family moved to the Bay Area when I was ten months old. I grew up with an interest in both science and sports. I was always fascinated by the natural world. I gravitated toward all things math, science, baseball, and golf. A successful high school golf career and all A’s landed me at Stanford. During the summer after my freshman year at Stanford, I worked in a research lab and my life's path became clear. I abandoned thoughts of a professional golf career because I discovered my true passion was science in general and chemistry in particular. After my postdoctoral work, I was offered a faculty position involving only research at the very prestigious Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California. Despite disappointing my graduate and postdoctoral advisors, I chose to come to the University of Texas because I wanted to become a teacher-scholar, not just a researcher.

This past summer, I found out why teaching is so important to me. My father passed away from cancer in August, but I was able to spend a great deal of time with him over the last year. During those many discussions I realized the wonderful gift he had given me. By example, he had taught me what I needed to know about teaching, and how lives can be changed. The following is a true story I told as part of his eulogy.

My father often would tutor local kids who were having trouble with math. When I was about 15 he was helping my mother’s hairdresser’s daughter with her algebra. She was trying to become the first in her family to attend college. I sat in a nearby room listening to my dad remain steadfastly patient and encouraging, as he explained the same concept over, and over, and over again. He never even hinted he was frustrated or disappointed even though this kept up for half an hour or more. Finally, she “got it” and they moved on.

After she left, being 15 and full of myself at the time, I said “Gee dad, that stuff is so easy, how could you stay so patient?”

He replied with a powerful lesson that I have never forgotten. “Why wouldn’t I be patient? It isn’t easy for her.” Then he added “Just like some things that are hard for you that she thinks are easy.”

I have taken the incredible wisdom of those words as my own private mantra throughout my teaching career all of these years, especially with students who are struggling with the material in my class. Patience really is the most important element of good teaching, and my father knew that better than anyone.

I have a brilliant, gorgeous wife (we met at Caltech) and four beautiful daughters (too pretty from my point of view now that three of them are teenagers). My love of athletics has been focused on running for the past decade, and my wife and I have completed 6 marathons together. Our children are runners too. Three of my daughters have competed in track and field at the national level, the AAU junior Olympics, and they have even won a total of three medals. Combined with year around soccer, we are a busy family indeed.