Saturday, September 20, 2008

All about Jack

Enough about me! Today, I have the singular pleasure of introducing my advisor, Dr. Jack Carroll. He was kind enough to grant an interview to Wendy, Shaoke, Honglu and me together, and this is what we discovered:

Jack is originally from a (not-so-little) town in eastern Pennsylvania called Bethlehem. After growing up in the Long Island area, he moved back to the Lehigh Valley area for high school and graduated from Lehigh University. He then returned to New York and earned his Ph.D. from Columbia University. Following the completion of his doctorate, he worked as a scientist at the IBM Thomas J. Watson Research Center for 17 years. This was where he met his wife, Mary Beth Rosson.

Jack and Mary Beth have similar backgrounds (psychology), and discovered over the years that that they were interested similar research. After working at IBM, they were both faculty at Virginia Tech until 2003, when they joined the faculty at Penn State's School of Information Sciences and Technology, which we now know as the College of IST. They frequently collaborate on research and writing, and although they try to avoid talking about work at home, they have found that it is often inevitable.

Jack and Mary Beth are also blessed with a daughter, who is currently a junior sociology major at Penn State. Although Jack reports that her personality is more similar to Mary Beth's than his, she shares his interests in community engagement and information technology, and he is happy to be able to share these passions with her. The Carroll family also has a cat, a dog, and a fish.

Among Jack's primary non-academic interests are hiking in the woods (often with Kerby, the dog) and brewing beer. He also plays folk guitar, a hobby he has enjoyed since he was 13. He even played in various bands during college and his early days at IBM. (I have to admit this was the part that surprised me most. IST concert, anyone?)

As someone who never lived in a college town until last year (and is still getting accustomed to it), I was interested in learning what Jack's favorite aspect of living in State College is. He happily reported that life here is significantly "easier" than living in a major metropolitan area like New York City. Traffic isn't stressful, shopping is accessible, parking is no problem, and the university influence gives us just enough culture and excitement. Jack commented that he and Mary Beth have absorbed a "factor of 1.8" difference between State College and Blacksburg, VA, where Virginia Tech is located. Everything here is about 1.8 times as big as it is in Blacksburg, including the campus, the downtown, and the accessibility to larger cities like Philadelphia, Washington, DC, and Baltimore.

It's fun to find out more about people's hobbies and interests when you usually only encounter them in a professional or academic environment. Remember when, as a child, if you saw your teacher in a grocery store or other "non-school" setting you would be overcome with a wave of shock and horror at the idea that your teacher was actually a person with a life outside of school? Luckily, at the university level, we do have more opportunities to interact with our professors at a personal level. And we certainly find out some cool stuff!

Another interesting factoid: Jack enjoys listening to Bob Dylan. So, in honor of that:

1 comment:

Miao said...

I love this song.