Deanna Csomo McCool | December 20, 2019
Biologist James Elser ’81 knew he didn’t want to be a doctor when he first came to Notre Dame as a freshman, even as he pursued a major in biological sciences.
“My father was a doctor, and I knew I wasn’t cut out for that,” said Elser, who became a member of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) in 2019. The NAS is an organization in which members are elected for life by current members, based on their distinguished and continuing achievements in scientific research. For scientists, being elected into the NAS can be compared with the prestige of being inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame, crossed with an invitation to play in the Pro Bowl.
Of course, Elser was not necessarily aiming for this honor when he arrived on the Notre Dame campus. “I wanted to do something with nature, or be a park ranger, or something, but I really had no idea,” he said.
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