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Weekly Scientist Obit: Indiana Jones, But Without the Fear of Snakes

Farish Jenkins liked to think outside the box–and he liked to research outside the cage.

A versatile biologist and zoologist, Jenkins’ subjects ranged from mammals to birds, live animals to fossils. Jenkins contributed important findings to various disciplines, including respiratory physiology and evolutionary biology, and was known for his theatrical lectures in these fields.

Don’t let the books and grandfatherly kind eyes fool you—Farish Jenkins was a wild child.

When he wasn’t teaching at Harvard, Jenkins took his curiosity on the road. The professor studied animals all over the world, and did so donning distinctly un-professorial apparel. According to his obituary in The Telegraph, “Jenkins would exchange his crisp, tailored shirt and immaculately knotted tie for a rabbit-fur hat, pocket-watch, flask of vodka and a high-powered rifle, an eccentric jumble of kit that caused his students to cast him as a real-life Indiana Jones.”

Even when tending to his academic conventions, Jenkins was far from conventional. He was known to keep live animals in his office, which would run amok, creating a scene he described as “circus-like.” Jenkins, it seems, could be taken out of the wild…but the wild could not be taken out of Jenkins.

Read more in Jenkins’ Telegraph obituary.

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Caitlin Shure

    Caitlin is a contributor to the Secret Life blog. She is also a student at Columbia Journalism School, completing her master’s degree in science journalism. Caitlin does not love all science equally; favorite topics of rumination include neuroscience, genetics, and evolutionary theory. Caitlin draws inspiration from James Watson and Rupaul Andre Charles.