Faculty & Staff

Progress | September 2009

September 2009

By Larry Pena

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For PUC biology professor Floyd Hayes, academic expertise is a pretty sweet way to get a free trip away from it all.

I had never met Floyd Hayes when I walked into his office for this interview. In fact I was a little worried on my way to Clark Hall - as I looked over the points of interest a tipster had given me for this profile on the professor's personal side, I realized that everything I knew about this man was related to his extensive ornithological research. Great.

And then I entered his office and was immediately comforted. Apparently this was the place where an REI truck had crashed through the wall of a natural history museum. A mountain bike covered with trail dust leaned against a shelf housing various animal bones. Climbing gear draped over stacks of scholarly nature journals. And everywhere photos -- most depicting Floyd in the midst of one of his nature-based death-defying endeavors, the size of his hair in inverse proportion to the length of his shorts. Surely I would find something interesting to discuss with this man.

"I swam with lots of sharks," he says about two minutes in. Bingo.

Apparently Floyd, whose ornithological research trips take him regularly into coastal and island regions of the world's tropics, makes a point of finding local representatives of the sea's greatest predators and joining them for a friendly snorkel. "I used to go snorkeling alone at night time," he says. "I'd usually just spin circles looking for sharks."

He tells me about one close call he had. "I had one charge me once [while] snorkeling by myself," he says. "I had my knife ready; I was going to sink it in her if she came into me. But she veered off about 15 feet in front of me." He laughs. "I probably wet my pants, but they were already wet."

It's not the sharks themselves that Floyd is attracted to. It's the thrill of finding an adventure far away from the world of man. "I love having an adventure," he says several times during the 30-minute interview.

In the islands of the Galapagos and Micronesia, that means snorkeling with carnivores. But it's not always just about the thrill. I ask him which of the 29 countries he's visited over the past 30 years he likes the best. "Well my favorite islands are St. John, Granada, and Tobago. They were the most pristine and least crowded with people," he says. In these places, he has spent weeks at a time hiking through jungles and camping on beaches during research trips. "I like spending time outdoors--mountains, oceans. I feel closer to God. It helps keep me in physical shape, reduces stress."

The key to all this travel, he says, has been his academic expertise. "I was 40 years old before I ever made over 30,000 bucks, but by then I had already traveled to like 29 countries," he says. "If you become an expert in something people will give you a phone call and say 'Hey, I need you to do a workshop' or something like that. Almost always I go for free." Reasons for his trips range from research on the islands for the Journal of Caribbean Ornithology to presentations at conferences on Creationist biology in South America.

"Some people, to them success is getting rich," he says. "To me, success is being rich in experience and knowledge." Judging by the experiences his knowledge has made possible for him, it seems that Floyd is a very successful man.

Colleagues & Departments

Aviation welcomes Kaye Varney to a new role, now that Bill Price has retired. Kaye was the assistant director of aviation last year, and now she's the director and the designated faculty person in the aviation program.

With many PUC families, Bryan Ness went to Oshkosh for the Pathfinder camporee this year, and he was cast as Tarshish in the play "Esther, The Courage to Stand," of which they performed one act per night from August 11 to 15.

Computer Science
Bruce Ivey and Robert Ordonez attended a workshop in Boston July 20-24 on teaching computer science using somewhat unconventional tools. Robert attended last year and learned even more in the advanced track this year. "We're already using the curriculum and tools in one of our classes, and will now expand that to include the whole freshman-year sequence of CS courses," he reports.

Adu Worku was a guest speaker at the 11th annual African Cradle Ethiopian Heritage Camp in Scotts Valley from July 30 to August 2. African Cradle is a California non-profit adoption agency that specializes in adoption counseling and post-adoption support. Adu shared traditional Ethiopian music and games at the camp.

Music & Albion
Linda Philpott (music) attended the Digital Photography Workshop held at Albion in July, and learned all sorts of new stuff about taking awesome pictures. You can even check out some of her pictures on her blog at www.musingdiversions.blogspot.com. Rachelle Davis (music) reports that she "spent two excellent weeks at the Conductors Institute at Bard College in New York (two hours up the Hudson River from NYC in Annandale on Hudson) expanding my conducting vocabulary."

The nursing department welcomes new faculty member Laurie Parson, who will coordinate the preceptorship program and teach in the clinical setting. Laurie and her husband lived in Placerville until the beginning of 2008, when they bought a sailing catamaran in Florida and spent most of the rest of the year moving it to the West Coast through the Panama Canal. Laurie attended PUC from 1989 to 1991, and her husband is a nurse at the Clearlake Hospital. They have two cats, Abby and Zibby.

The Records Office is seeing some staffing changes. Marlo Waters transitioned into the position of Registrar on August 1, taking the place of the now-retired Susi Mundy. Kathy Mattison has joined the team as the new Assistant Registrar. Kathy worked for the Records Office for many years and is returning after three years as an elementary school teacher.

Various Departments
The annual PacificQuest was fun - as it always is - this year for a group of young students. Lindsay Petersen (modern languages) and Aimee Wyrick-Brownworth (biology) led out, and Lindsay, Vola Andrianarijaona (physics), Aubyn Fulton (psychology) and Charlene Bainum (psychology) taught classes in French, physics, and psychology.

Visual Arts
Victoria Mukerji (anthropology) is in Goa, India, for a year to finish anthropological fieldwork/research. She was asked by the Andrews University International Development Program to teach an intensive graduate course in development anthropology at East African University Baraton, Kenya. There, she had about 50 humanitarian aid and development master's students. "I heard the most remarkable stories of my career from these fabulous people and experienced the most incredible hospitality and sincere humanity I have felt within the structure of the Adventist Church," she says. "It was truly epiphanal." She adds that she "can't wait to incorporate my experience into my next year's curriculum at PUC."