While on a backpacking trip in Yosemite National Park, I met a distinguished gentleman who said that he was a recuiter for a foundation that attempted to solve problems in various places. After inquiring about my background, the gentleman said that his employers sometimes provided opportunities for someone with my experience. Would I be interested? I replied, "yes, of course" and my visitor departed saying that his foundation may get in touch. When I awoke the next morning, I was bewildered and frightened to find myself on a completely different planet. At first, I thought I was dreaming, but the strange plants and animals could not have existed anywhere on Earth. The ensuing adventure involved the discovery of a primitive Mesozoic world, but one that also had two species of sentient creatures, one mammalian and the other reptilian. The tasks of learning new languages, new cultures, and attempting to introduce some civilizing influence were almost overwhelming but progress was made. It was an exciting experience. Had you been in my place, would you have done the same things?
John C. “Jack ” Briggs was named professor emeritus upon his retirement from the University of South Florida. He is now affiliated with the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife at Oregon State University. He and his wife Eila, a retired economics professor, spend their summers in Oregon and winters in Indio, California. Jack’s research interest is primarily in evolutionary biology. His studies in early years were devoted to fish life history and systematics. Work on systematics led to an interest in the evolutionary implications of biogeographic patterns. Work on contemporary patterns of distribution and biodiversity led to the study of paleobiology and the historical development of such patterns. To date, he has produced 150 publications, including six books or monographs. In 2005, he received the Alfred Russel Wallace Award from the International Biogeography Society for his lifetime contributions to biogeography. In addition to his scientific works, he has published a science-fiction book written for his grandchildren A Mesozoic Adventure, Xlibris, Philadelphia, 2007. The present work A Professorial Life is both a professional autobiography and a concurrent account of family life.