In December, 1973, I flew back to
"Where are you?" they wanted to know. A week before the Yom Kippur war, I had taken the bus from
Nevertheless, school had now started again in
Thus began my romance with
In two weeks I turn 58 and could continue as a tenured professor there for another decade. But I have decided to call it a day. There are many reasons for this, but perhaps the main one is that I have many interests, aside from being a microbiologist (or scientist, for that matter), and this university (and most others) want their professors to be very focused and to maintain the very same specialty throughout their careers. In other words, if you come in as a young lecturer teaching bacteriology in your thirties, you are expected to be teaching the same subject thirty-five years later.
That works for many of my colleagues, who are delighted to hang out in laboratories for decades focusing on a singular path towards stellar success in a very specific scientific area. But for those of us who become easily distracted by other loves such as music, creative writing, thinking and other 'wastes of time' the academic trajectory becomes a strait-jacket.
Some of my favorite scientists followed meandering careers. Louis Pasteur, who started out as an amazing chemist and followed his nose into microbiology and other biological pursuits and my own professor, Eugene Rosenberg who also began in chemistry and found a new and amazing career in bacterial behavior. I also remember the late Herman Epstein, whose amazing career kept morphing (I was witness to his main morph, as he started studying the development of rodent brains in response to educational development in the 1970s).
For many years, my research on bad breath saved me. I was able to look at not only the microbes that cause the smell, but also the smelly substances, and the psychological implications of smelling and being smelled. I invented gizmos and mouthwashes. I interviewed thousands of people and learned a lot about humanity. The breadth of breath research was satisfying for me. But when I left the dental school for the medical faculty five years ago, I was expected to morph back into a regular bacteriologist and teach medical bacteriology much the same as it was taught when I was a student in the early 1970s. I tried, but eventually decided that this was wrong. I cannot teach medical students subjects in which I am neither up-to-date, nor particularly interested.
And so, from December 1st, one month from now, I will become an 'emeritus professor' at
My original retirement plan was to spend less of my time at the university, and invest more effort in my other pursuits, i.e., playing and singing jazz, writing children's stories, and teaching multidisciplinary creative thinking. I sent a message to the President of Afeka Engineering College, Prof. Moti Sokolov, asking him whether I would be continuing the course in creative thinking that I had given over the past few years with Dr. Alon Amit. Instead he called me in and invited me to be the Dean of Students of the college.
Flabbergasted, I accepted. During all my years at
So, from Dec. 1st I start a new and exciting career, hoping to help the college shape and sharpen the minds and careers of 2000 youngsters. Afeka, here I come.