Faculty Awards and Honors

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Mr. Michel Masson


Annual Faculty Lecturer 1994-1995

MICHEL "MIKE" MASSON was born in California; his family moved to Santa Barbara when he was seven years old. He attended local public schools (Peabody, La Cumbre Junior High, Santa Barbara High), and considers himself an "almost-native" Santa Barbaran. His real education, however, was at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History and in Mission Creek, where he spent afternoons and summers catching frogs, snakes, lizards, turtles, and insects. "I have been a biologist since before I could talk", he says. "My earliest pre-verbal memories are of hearing a barn owl shriek, watching a king snake climb a rock wall, and finding a little brown bat sleeping under a mulberry leaf."

AS A TEENAGER he worked after school every day at the Museum of Natural History, preparing specimens, constructing exhibits, and caring for the many orphaned and injured animals at what was in those days Santa Barbara's only "zoo" and wildlife care facility. Weekends and summers found him hunting and camping in the Los Padres and chasing snakes in the deserts of California and Arizona.

MIKE THEN ATTENDED UCSB, where he received what he calls "one of the last classical educations in zoölogy", graduating in 1963 with a B.A. During his college years he spent his summers in the outdoors working first for the California Division of Forestry and then for the United States Forest Service, as a firefighter, trail builder, and back-country ranger. After graduation he returned to UCSB to spend two years as a Research Laboratory Technician in the laboratories of Elmer Noble (Parasitology) and Edward Triplett (Embryology), then two years as a graduate student, receiving his M.A. in 1967.

HE APPLIED FOR A TEACHING JOB at SBCC but, through a twist of fate, was offered a position of Lecturer at UCSB teaching Human Anatomy, a field he had never studied or even thought seriously about but which was to prove both interesting to him and much in demand in the academic marketplace. With three years experience in that position he was able to move to SBCC in 1970, where he has remained ever since, happily teaching courses in Human Anatomy, Human Physiology, Introductory Biology, and Physical Anthropology. After 28 years of teaching subjects that apply the principles of biology, zoology, and evolution to the human species he is pleased to describe his academic specialty as "Human Biology."

IN HIS SPARE TIME, which he guards jealously, Mike enjoys motor-cycling, bicycling, mountain biking, hiking, camping, backpacking, trout fishing, SCUBA diving, reading cheap French detective fiction, and searching San Francisco for new Dim Sum joints and Italian restaurants. Married for 30 years, he and his wife, Elona, live in Goleta. Their son, Sam, attends City College.

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