TITLE: Small World
AUTHOR: Eugene Wallingford
DATE: November 21, 2007 3:28 PM
Recently I mentioned the big pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly
in an entry on the
next generation of scientists,
because one of its scientists spoke at the
I was attending. I have some roundabout personal connections
to Lilly. It is based in
When I was in high school and had moved to a small town in the
next county, I used to go with some adult friends to play chess
at the Eli Lilly Chess Club, which was the only old-style
corporate chess club of its kind that I knew of. (Clubs like
it used to exist in many big cities in the 19th and early 20th
centuries. I don't know how common they are these days. The
Internet has nearly killed face-to-face chess.) I recall quite
a few Monday nights losing quarters for hours while playing local
masters at speed chess, at 1:30-vs-5:00 odds!
Coincidentally, my high school hometown was also home to a
Lilly Research Laboratories facility, which does work on vaccines,
toxins, and agricultural concerns. Parents of several friends
worked there, in a variety of capacities. When I was in college,
I went out on a couple of dates with a girl from back home. Her
father was a research scientist at Lilly in Greenfield. (A quick
google search on his name even uncovers a link to
one of his papers.)
He is the sort of scientist that Kumar, our SECANT presenter,
works with at Lilly. Interesting connection.
But I can go one step further and bring this even closer to my
professional life these days. My friend's last name was Gries.
It turns out that her father, Christian Gries, is brother to
none other than distinguished computer scientist
I've mentioned Gries a few times in this blog and even wrote an
of one of his classic papers.
I don't think I was alert enough at the time to be sufficiently
impressed that Karen's uncle was such a famous computer scientist.
In any case, hero worship is hardly the basis for a long-term
romantic relationship. Maybe she was wise enough to know that
dating a future academic was a bad idea...