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Lisa Jackson

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Diana Gabaldon
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Are you Scottish or English? American. Raised in Flagstaff, Arizona. However, my ancestry is both English and Mexican-American; one of my maternal great- grandfathers emigrated from England to Arizona in the late 1800's, while my father's family seems to have been in New Mexico since the late 1500's.

Diana currently lives in Scottsdale, Arizona with her husband, three children, and a large number of animals.

Husband: Douglas Watkins We've been married for...[counting on fingers]...goodness, twenty-five years now. Time flies. Together for five years before that, so we've known each other for a good long time; fortunately, we seem still to enjoy each other's company.

Kids: We have three--two girls and a boy--aged (at the moment) 20, 18, and 16. However, they deserve to have their own privacy, so I won't say more about them here.

I have an M.S. in Marine Biology from Scripps Institution of Oceanography and a Ph.D. in quantitative behavioral ecology (animal behavior with statistics involved; my thesis was on Nest Site Selection in Pinyon Jays (or as my husband says, "Why Birds Build Nests Where They Do, and Who Cares Anyway?"). I wrote comic books (free-lance) for Walt Disney for a year or two in the late 70's-- while holding a post-doc in marine biology at UCLA. Then I was a professor at Arizona State for twelve years or so, in the Center for Environmental Studies. What I actually did there was (weirdly enough) to develop an expertise in the brand-new field of scientific computation (the use of computers to do scientific research--in botany, ecology, physiology, meteorology, etc. Completely different from computer science, which is the study of computers and how they work).

As part of this, I started and ran a scholarly journal called Science Software for several years. See, I started using computers for scientific analysis in the early '80's, just when microcomputers were getting started. It occurred to me that there should be a venue for other scientists who did what I did (not many, back then) to share their work. The journal took off, and took over--within a year, I was doing virtually nothing else; I ran the journal, did training seminars for scientists wanting to get into computers and lab automation, wrote texts and manuals and so on.

Essentially, I invented my own specialty. I then called up magazine editors and offered to write about it. That is, I started sending copies of Science Software around to the editors of the mainstream computer press (along with one of my Walt Disney comic books, just to be sure they looked at my query{g}), asking for assignments--which I got instantly, because at that time, I was one of maybe a dozen people in the world who knew anything about scientific and technical software and could write coherently about it.

In other words, I became established as an "expert" in scientific computation the same way I started writing fiction; I just did it.

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Photo: Diana Gabaldon
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