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Bitten by the Bug

Perhaps one of Ron Goor ’62’s most memorable contributions to science came when he offered his bare arms to feed hungry mosquitos. But more on that later.

After high honors in zoology, botany, and chemistry at Swarthmore garnered him a 1963 National Science Foundation Predoctoral Scholarship at Harvard, he earned a doctorate in biochemistry and then spent two years on a postdoc in the National Institutes of Health Laboratory of Molecular Biology.

Goor’s second stint at NIH was coordinating a large clinical trial on coronary heart disease. After spending a year in the NIH medical library reading papers, Goor found definitive proof that reducing fat intake results in weight loss.

“It was like being back in the Honors Program,” he says.

Since then, Goor and his wife, Nancy, have co-authored best-selling books on healthy eating for weight loss and lowering cholesterol, but have also written and illustrated (with Ron’s photos) nine award-winning nonfiction children’s books.

One of these, In the Driver’s Seat, features photographs taken by Goor of what it’s like to pilot vehicles like a Concorde jet, a front-loader, and an Amtrak engine. Ron even took a three-day trip in an 18-wheeler and slept in the cab.

Other books cover topics like the lost Roman city of Pompeii and insects, a personal fascination of Goor’s.

In fact, in the early 1970s, Goor became special assistant to the director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, where he developed, among other things, the country’s first live-insect zoo. (That’s where he buddied up to those aforementioned bloodsuckers.) He also created an independent production company to make educational nature films.

All of his varied interests have made for a fascinating journey, and the Goors agree on the launching pad that made it all possible.

“Because of Swarthmore’s Honors Program, I feel I can do anything,” he says. “As a result, I’ve had a very interesting life.”