Thursday, May 20, 2010

in memory of Devendra Singh

Devendra Singh was a clever and charming firecracker. So smart. So gentle. So caring. So persistent. 

In my dissertation acknowledgments, I wrote this about him: 
Dr. Singh has shown me that loving what you do will keep you alive. His wisdom about life, enthusiasm for teaching, and concern for my well-being have bettered my life in countless ways. I have learned from him how to think like a scientist and will forever remember his unmatched ability to captivate a classroom.
I remember the first class I ever TA'd for him. We walked slowly for several blocks in the brutal Texan summer heat. I didn't think he would make it. When we arrived in the classroom, he got up on a table, sat cross-legged-- looking half like a child, half like a yogi, and hacked away until he caught his breath. When it was time for class to begin, he was ON - no signs of distress until the 'high' of teaching escaped, an hour or so after class.  

I've never seen a classroom of college kids listen as intently as they did to Dr. Singh, day after day, no matter what the content. I've also never seen someone command a room so powerfully with such a gentle voice, strong Indian accent, and transparencies dating back to the 60's. 

Dev loved teaching. He also loved when people appreciated his teaching; thus our relationship. He inspired everyone who stepped foot in his classrooms. And this, only one of his many dimensions-- brilliant researcher, devoted and very, very proud father, gourmet chef, and so many other facets that came up over the years. 

Dev was groundbreaking and controversial. He would be disappointed in me to know I memorialized him without mentioning his research on the evolutionarily preferred .67 waist-hip ratio and the adaptive significance of female attractiveness. Students were literally on the edge of their seats when he gave the backstory on this research-- again, using his old transparencies. 

I know he suffered over the past few years, especially this last semester when he was prevented from teaching. I'm so sad he's gone. Missing him so much already. 

May everyone have a fig today to honor the passing of this inspiring man. 

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