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Alec Walker

The sun had just peeked above the horizon, adorning the pale morning fog with brush strokes of clementine light (come to think of it, much reminiscent of the warm glow cast by the yellow-green laser of the FACSAria on a similarly foggy morning on the HMS Quad). The day was June 28th, the year…well let’s just say a long, long time ago. And – lying in the soft summer grass in his native homeland, Wisconsin - a post-natal day 0 Alec was already starting to wonder what the heck developing B cells are doing in the meninges in early life.  But like for all good things, he would have to wait to know the answer. For single cell sequencing had yet to be conceived, and perhaps more importantly he had a lot of eating to do. Unsurprisingly, Alec’s quest for immunological knowledge and culinary enlightenment would take him far past his neonatal years and eventually far away from the promised land of fresh cheese curds and cold beer. At the University of Wisconsin, he savored pan fried walleye and searched fastidiously for infiltrating dendritic cells in brain sections of mice with EAE. At the NIH, he cracked fresh Maryland blue crabs and tinkered with T cells to target pediatric tumors. In Boston, you can find him lighting up the grill after a long night sorting meningeal B cells; a piece of buttery bluefish and a glass of orange wine are not infrequent accompaniments to a post-sort FlowJo session. If you were to ask Alec whether humankind’s most significant invention is the confocal microscope or the cast iron pan, he would tell you it is difficult to live a full life without either. But doing a PhD in a world without flow cytometry…well…he doesn’t dare contemplate.

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