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John Tuthill '06

John Tuthill '06

John Tuthill '06 graduated with a double major in Honors biology and sociology and anthropology and received an award for best senior thesis in sociology and anthropology. He is one of four Ph.D. students in a joint program between the University of Chicago and Janelia Farms Research Campus of Howard Hughes Medical Institute in Ashburn, Va., a world-class biomedical research center that brings together scientists from diverse disciplines to tackle biology's biggest challenges using innovative and emerging technologies. John's research centers on multisensory neurocircuits in fruit flies. Among his many accomplishments, John has made two films: An Elder's Story, about Chester, Pa., (shown on Pennsylvania public television) and Another Man's Treasure, about junkyards (shown at the Maine International Film Festival).

In His Own Words

Describe yourself in 5 words or less.

"Only a little bit scared."

What were the most valuable Evans Scholars program experiences for you?

"The summer after my junior year, I divided my summer between hitchhiking through Scandinavia and devising sensory behavior experiments in a biology lab at Duke. This was the period during which I decided to study brains."

Did the Evans Scholars program have any impact on what you're doing now?

"Absolutely. The Evans program freed up my summers by supplementing my student loans and paying living expenses, and allowed me to graduate from college without debt."

What was the most transformative class you took at Swarthmore?

"Introduction to Neurobiology, taught by Kathy Siwicki. I both took and TA'd this class; it was a whirlwind tour through the techniques and ideas of modern neuroscience. The theme of the class was: we have almost no clue what is going on in the brain of any animal, even simple ones like leeches or flies. It conveyed awe."

What would you do differently if you were a student at Swarthmore now?

"I would take more math classes and twitter a lot."

Name a person you most admire.

"Tev Kelman or Ernest Shackleton. Both are great leaders of men, without sacrificing sarcasm."

What are you proudest of in your life so far? Why?

"I have conceived several clever bumper stickers. They are my gift to the people."