Hiram Lyon

Technical Associate, The Culver Lab

What originally sparked your interest in biology?

From the beginning I have been fascinated by science, an interest that was supported by my parents, particularly my mother.  One Christmas when I was about five, my parents gave me two books, one entitled “Geology” and the other “The World Around Us”.  They were far beyond my reading level, but I was captivated by artists' renderings of erupting volcanoes and pictures of Devonian trilobites, dinosaurs, early birds and mammals.  When an older cousin or an adult would offer to read me a story, I would often opt for a few pages of those two books.   The launch of Sputnik in 1958 by the Soviet Union really got me interested in astronomy and I spent a lot of time picking out constellations in the night sky and building model rockets.  A few years later, I was given a Gilbert chemistry set for my birthday.  I spent so much time in the kitchen doing experiments from the exercise manual that my parents decided to buy me a much larger set containing a beam balance, alcohol lamp and a few test tubes and about an ounce each of about 30 different chemicals.  It was a lot of fun until I took the enamel off my mother’s kitchen sink (at least I was the one who got the blame for it). Soon after, my mother bought me a compound microscope.  I had a few prepared slides that were kind of cool, but looking at pond water and soil samples was just amazing.  I think the gift of that microscope was the thing that really got me interested in biology.

What do you enjoy most about working here at the U of R?

The people.  I enjoy the diversity and the intellectual richness that is everywhere here at the U of R.  I have been fortunate to have worked for three wonderful principal investigators over the years and have enjoyed working with some really great postdocs, grad students and undergrads.

What advice would you give to prospective students looking to study in our department?

The average college first year will have already spent nearly three quarters of their life attending school and it seems that academic instruction will never end.  However, four years of college will fly by quickly.  My youngest son once told me that he thought he learned more in his first year of college than he learned in four years of high school.  Attending college is perhaps the greatest single opportunity a person will ever have. Don’t waste it!   We have some of the finest faculty and facilities available.  Take advantage of them. 

How do you unwind when you’re not in the lab?

I like to be outdoors.  I camp in the winter and summer. I love to canoe, backpack, hunt, fish and garden.   I also am an avid woodworker.   I like to design and build things and I particularly enjoy teaching others how to work with wood.

What is one thing about yourself that you’d like more people to know?

I am a history buff, especially in the areas of American colonial history and the Revolutionary War.  I have been a Rev War re-enactor for many years and have enjoyed re-enacting throughout the eastern US and Canada, as well as in the UK.  I have also had the opportunity to work on film in historical documentaries and in movies.