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Biology Professor's Year With The Falcons

September 24, 2002

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Photo of Larry Jahn.

Larry Jahn. (Download print-quality photo)

Photo of Larry Jahn.

Jahn with Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. (View larger photo.)

Photo of Larry Jahn.

At lunch with cadets. (View larger photo.)

Photo of Larry Jahn.

In a T-7 trainer. (View larger photo.)

Photo of Larry Jahn.

Conducting the drum and bugle corps. (View larger photo.)

Photo of Larry Jahn.

With senior seminar cadets. (View larger photo.)

Photo of Larry Jahn.

With his wife Mary Jane and the USAFA Falcon mascot. (View larger photo.)

MACOMB, IL - - Larry Jahn, a 35-year veteran biology professor at Western Illinois University whose teaching and research passion is fish (ichthyology), spent the past academic year with falcons...the U.S. Air Force Academy (USAFA) Falcons.

From June 2001 to June 2002, Jahn served as the Distinguished Visiting Professor in Biology at the USAF Academy in Colorado Springs. He was selected for this honor as part of the USAFA's ongoing program to bring eminent civilian educators to the Academy, which is recognized as one of the nation's finest four-year institutions of higher learning.

"The Academy needed an aquatic faculty member to teach the fish section of vertebrate biology. I applied and was selected," Jahn said.

Biology is among 31 majors offered at the Academy and included in required core courses for its 4,400 students. Jahn taught two sections of the introductory course and the fish section of the vertebrate course in the fall. In spring he taught two sections of the senior seminar class and assisted a biochemist with trout research.

"I really enjoyed the students and the faculty," Jahn said. "And I had a corner office the overlooked the parade ground. That was truly spectacular.

"Being at one of the nation's military academies on and following Sept. 11 was certainly an interesting experience," he added. "Security procedures, which already were strict, were heightened."

Jahn said he was treated so well by everyone at the Academy, "It was like I'd always been there. It was a wonderful year for me and for my wife Mary Jane. We made some great friends," he added.

The Jahns packed up their belongings and spent the entire year in Colorado Springs. They rented officer quarters near the Academy, which is situated in the foothills of the Rampart Range of the Rocky Mountains.

"It was like living in a wildlife refuge; it was such a beautiful setting," Jahn said. "We really enjoyed seeing coyotes, foxes and deer near our house. One morning I even saw mountain lion tracks. And, of course, I especially enjoyed great fishing opportunities at trout ponds and streams near the Academy."

Jahn called his year at the Academy "tremendous."

"We (my wife and I) experienced all we could, including participating in a cadet sponsor program," he said. "We invited some new cadets over to the house for dinner, and some even stayed overnight, just to escape the intensity of the Academy. We also attended athletic events and participated in as many activities as we could."

Jahn's most favorite recollections include a one-hour ride in a T-7 trainer, directing the drum and bugle corps at a noon formation, being invited by cadets to lunch in Mitchell Hall, watching the Thunderbirds and military aircraft soar by the Academy and serving as Squadron 10's invited commissioning speaker at graduation.

He also enjoyed special guest speakers and presentations on topics such as astronaut training, space biology and human physiology.

Jahn said the year at the USAFA helped him to return to his Western Illinois University duties "with a little more excitement."

At Western Illinois Jahn has generated more than $1.75 million in grants and contracts, completed 44 master's of science students and coordinates the biological sciences wildlife art gallery. He is past chair of the Illinois Endangered Species Protection Board and chaired the steering committee for the1999 Midwest Fish and Wildlife meeting.

"Teaching at WIU and USAFA has been a real treat," Jahn said. "I'm happy to be back, but will sure miss the cadets and faculty."

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