Melina Hale, dean of the College at the University of Chicago, is former interim co-director of the MBL. This profile also quotes one of her MBL research collaborators, Steve Zottoli.

The College’s new dean, Melina Hale, PhD ’98, brings leadership experience and unlimited intellectual curiosity to a crucial role.

Melina Hale wanted to study primates. The daughter of teachers turned travel agents, she had watched giant tortoises in the Galapagos Islands and gorillas in Rwanda. Throughout high school she had immersed herself in a volunteer position at the Museum of Science in Boston as a “junior curator” of live animals, including rescued or confiscated alligators, owls, kinkajous, and more that were part of the museum’s educational programs.

Dreaming of a career studying animal behavior, Hale, PhD’98, applied early to Duke University, with its famed lemur center. By the following fall, she was spending much of her time there, observing the animals, taking notes, looking for patterns.

In spring semester Hale enrolled in a small seminar taught by biologist Steven Vogel. He had recently published Life’s Devices: The Physical World of Animals and Plants (Princeton University Press, 1989), a lively meditation on the ways physical laws influence the mechanical design of plants and animals. “The questions of concern here are enormously diverse,” Vogel writes in the preface, “ranging from why trees so rarely fall over and the significance of the hull shape of baby sea turtles to the relative scarcity among organisms of right angles, metals, and wheels.” It goes on in this casually curious manner. Read more in The University of Chicago Magazine.

Source: Committed to the Core | The University of Chicago Magazine