I always knew he was going to do something special.
As a toddler, he was fascinated by the world and everything in it. He carried on startlingly adult conversations before he was old enough for kindergarten. He was always the smartest one in school, sometimes getting in trouble for surreptitiously reading library books during classes that had nothing new to teach him.
He threw a perfect game against Little League All Stars. At age 11, competing against older kids on the floor of the old Boston Garden during half-time at a Celtics game, he won the NBA’s New England regional basketball shootout. He helped organize a road race in honor of a high-school friend killed in a car crash.
He went to Cornell, where he hoped to study astronomy under Carl Sagan. He abandoned astronomy for biology and anthropology, then earned his Phd. at the University of Michigan, where he honed his research skills in the hominid evolution.
Now he is a professor at Boston University, where his students, making their feelings known on the “Rate My Professor” website, give him high marks for helpfulness and clarity, complain about how tough he is on them, and rate him a chilli pepper — the highest rating for “hottness.”
Today, Professor Jeremy DeSilva is a rising star in the field of early human evolution, traveling to Africa for field work and specializing in the locomotion of our ancient ancestors and relatives. His research as part of a team studying a stunning group of South African fossils is revolutionizing our understanding of who they were, how they lived, and how modern humans came to be.
You can read an accessible account about his research in this recent Boston Globe article.
You can hear him talk about his most recent discoveries in this Science Magazine podcast.
And you can learn more about these discoveries in this Duke University podcast, Jeremy’s part in it starting three minutes in.
His older brother and sister are amazing, too. Richard, an investment expert, is one of the most caring people I know. He runs in the Boston Marathon, including this year’s tragic race, to raise money for cancer research. Melanie, a passionate advocate for the underprivileged and for women’s issues, manages marketing and recruitment for the University Without Walls at the University of Massachusetts, a program that brings adult dropouts back to college to finish their degrees.
And the three of them are teaching me what it means to be a great parent.