Poetry Archive

(In approx order by date - newest at top)

  • Oh Woe, Mary Walker is About to Go!

    Oh Woe, Mary Walker is About to Go!

    It seems not so very long ago
    That I was told “Do you know,
    The office has a new hire.
    Her name’s Mary and she’s good!”
    It wasn’t long before I understood.

    Her help is not just here or there,
    It’s all around and everywhere!
    She alerts us every morning
    When there’s a seminar or a meeting
    And keys are safely in her keeping.

    Anyone whose’s hosted a guest
    Knows that Mary shows our best.
    Itineraries are filled for all to see,
    The flight is booked, as is the room,
    A water bottle stands at the podium.

    So deftly does she organize gatherings
    That we take for granted the little things
    Needed for those special occasions–
    The food, the forks, the alcohol permit–
    Only when all’s clean and tidy does she quit.

    In the face of life’s problems it is clear
    That Mary is special, more than a dear.
    She’s wise and acts on what’s important.
    Her family’s first, no matter what, when or where,
    But she is good toward all who are there.

    For us it’s a loss to have Mary retire.
    When there’s something we require
    We’ll have to think of how to manage.
    In the quilt, though, we have a measure
    Of the person that’s long been a treasure.

    Now to Pittsburgh Mary will be moving
    Again her dedication to her family proving.
    Eileen, Warren, and Liberty are lucky.
    We’re grateful for all she has done
    And wish her joy with the little one.

    Donata Oertel
    February 14, 2019

  • Thank you to Ravi Kochhar for all he has done

    Thank you to Ravi Kochhar for all he has done

    Our beloved and much respected Ravi
    Will soon become a retiree and truly free.
    It is with unease and a very heavy heart
    That we contemplate making a new start.
    We have been helped, served and taught
    Whenever by computers we were caught
    With quiet competence that was astounding
    And with generosity and selflessness abounding.

    At first he programmed the MIT Linc
    To show how sound and neuronal firing synch.
    Then came two Harrises that could do more
    With discs that were the size of furniture.
    When they crashed Ravi managed to rescue
    Most data, grants, papers and what have you.
    As years passed the number of computers grew;
    They shrank, still crashed, but backups got us through.

    With more computers, networks, and email
    Ravi’s job changed from breeze to gale.
    When we received one email per day,
    Managing the server did not get in the way.
    But emails came at an ever increasing rate.
    And sitting at a computer became the normal state.
    (Oddly email’s become a widespread addiction
    Although most messages are an affliction.)

    Early on the clients Ravi served were few
    But with restructuring the numbers grew.
    At first it was only folks in Neurophysiology,
    Then with a merger his fame grew to Physiology.
    Another shuffle brought Ravi also to those in CRB
    Whose appreciation grew unsurprisingly rapidly.
    His territory grew from a basement room in MSB
    To include SMI, WIMR, and HSLC.

    We are lucky to have been served by and known
    One whose competence and generosity have so shone.
    Most of us strive to sell our knowledge in some way.
    But Ravi said it’s people and friendships that pay.
    For over forty years this attitude has been a gift
    That makes his retirement leave an enormous rift.
    Wishing happiness to our remarkable friend,
    We rejoice in having worked with Ravi, beginning to end.

    Donata Oertel
    December 15, 2015

  • Thank you, Tom

    Thank you, Tom

    We gather to thank Tom Yin
    For all he’s done and been.
    His work on whence comes sound,
    From up or down or all around
    Or from one or the other side,
    Is cited and respected far and wide.
    What good are moving heads and ears?
    To track meals and enemies and peers.

    Tom’s also been our valued leader.
    And of divisions he’s been a healer.
    He gave us the chance to learn,
    He gave us the chance to earn,
    Gradually, one another’s trust
    By working hard and being just.
    Finally his difficult job is done;
    Thanks to Tom we’re truly one.

    Donata Oertel
    Dec. 5, 2014

  • Sue, We do Thank You

    Sue, We do Thank You

    What would we in the department do
    Without the help of our wonderful Sue?
    Documents are neatly ordered on cue,
    Piles of papers for someone’s tenure
    Or for awards that none will eschew.
    And then grants…how many none knew,
    Of eraCommons we have barely a clue.
    For many of the thirty years, too,
    Sue helped an important part of our crew–
    Grad students–when they felt happy or blue.
    How lucky we are that we have our Sue,
    For thirty years’ help we heartily thank you.

    Donata Oertel
    Oct. 1, 2014

  • Ode to Lady Oertel

    Ode to Lady Oertel

    For those of you who don’t know, Donata’s last name is pronounced ‘ertle’
    However you could never compare her to a turtle
    For she is fast and she’s quick and she never misses a lick
    Especially when it comes to electrophysiological quip.

    She is brilliant & she’s bright
    and she’s always willing to put up a fight
    for whatever or whomever
    she believes is right.

    I’m so glad to’ve been at her side
    and have her as my guide
    through this wild, wonderful and sometimes wacky ass ride.

    Also thanks to Xiao-Jie
    who was always willing to share a story
    of which would never bore me
    including advice on every topic
    like how to improve a synaptic recording and not to slop it.

    Otoferlin was the mystery topic
    wondering why are these synaptic currents so large
    And what protein or mechanism is responsible for it and in charge
    Of these adaptations at the great end bulb of Held.
    Only the unraveling of a great mystery will tell.

    Thanks to them both
    For being such wonderful hosts
    and superb friends along the way.
    For long will I boast about our celebratory toast
    and years of work and play.

    So here’s to D
    Who might just be
    As persistent
    And determined as me.

    Samantha Wright
    July 18, 2014

  • Congratulations, Sam!

    Congratulations, Sam!

    (on Sam Wright getting her Ph.D.)

    We’ve worked together for six years
    Examining mouse neurons and ears
    So thoroughly and with so much care
    That the role of otoferlin was laid bare.
    Sharing the frustrations and the joys,
    Dragged down or lifted as by buoys,
    You’ve been an important part of life.
    After you leave who’ll take your role?
    The work days will have a big hole.
    Take care and please keep in touch
    Hearing from you will please us much.

    Donata Oertel
    July 18, 2014

  • On the Retirment of Jane Sekulski

    On the Retirment of Jane Sekulski

    For long our science’s been at the forefront
    Because computers allowed us to confront
    Complex projects that for ordinary people
    Are quite simply just not doable.
    We were lucky that in the 80’s Jane came,
    To help those with programs to tame.
    For 30 years she’s been quite selfless
    Working away in a windowless office,
    Quietly, year after year, always the same,
    Not for aggrandizement or for fame.
    We’ll miss her kindness and generosity,
    Her competence without any pomposity.
    While her leaving is for us a sadness,
    We wish her a future filled with gladness.

    Donata Oertel
    Mar. 4, 2014

  • Upon the Retirement of Diane Buechner

    Upon the Retirement of Diane Buechner

    For decades. by working in the realm of Bucky,
    Diane’s been making those around her lucky.
    Logical, principled, hard-working and fair,
    She has for negotiating bureaucracy a flair.
    Glance into 118 and you’ll likely see
    Her working with great intensity,
    Head bowed over piles of papers
    Or facing a screen’s number capers.
    She keeps track of where money’s stored
    So competently that doubts can be ignored.
    Her telling Chairs where finances stand,
    Helps them keep the department in hand.
    She tells news as it is, good or bad,
    So following her lead makes us glad.
    I suspect I speak for us all when I say,
    That while we would’ve liked you to stay
    And amongst us remain in Bucky employ,
    We hope the future brings you peace and joy.

    Donata Oertel
    Dec. 19, 2012

  • Farewell Michele

    Farewell Michele

    We are lucky that Michele came
    To study how eyes manage their aim.
    She taught us how not to shrink
    From studying how monkeys think.
    Her knowledge and skills are rare.
    She was always willing to share,
    With amazing eloquence and lucidity,
    Science and also officious stupidity.
    We will miss her energetic step
    And abundance of intellectual pep.
    We regret her move to Los Angeles
    But she’ll always still be one of us.

    Donata Oertel
    May 19, 2012


  • Respiration


    (For Physiology 435)

    Our noses have several important duties
    In addition to making some people cuties.
    They smell what comes near our faces
    And funnel air quickly through small spaces
    The airway has branches like a tree
    That end in millions of alveoli.
    That tree’s encased in a wet double sack.
    We will our muscles to pull the sack back
    So air rushes in and happens to meet
    Blood flowing near by that’s in dire need.
    Hemoglobin hands off CO2 to the air
    And grabs all the O2 it can possibly bear.

    Donata Oertel
    Apr. 22, 2012

  • Congratulations Matt

    Congratulations Matt

    (For Matt Jones, on getting a new grant)

    Hip hip hurray,
    Bill and I say!
    Do duly celebrate-
    Don’t be moderate.
    People employ
    So work is a joy.
    Woes are gone,
    Move up and on!

    Donata Oertel
    Apr. 13, 2012

  • Physiology 435

    Physiology 435

    Looking back you will likely agree
    You’ve learned a lot of physiology.
    The crux of the matter is homeostasis
    For which you now know the basis.
    Neurons use voltage and current for speed
    To respond to internal and external need.
    Hormones use blood for transportation
    To look for receptors to form a relation.
    Blood is in turn impelled by the heart
    Through valves that thump at stop and start
    Blood regularly takes a special trip
    For purification and O2 it can ship.
    The kidney is the target of much blood
    Which then removes the remaining crud.
    The unbeautiful gut brings in the food;
    Its actions can occasionally be rude.
    Each of us is proof that bodies work
    Bodies amazingly rarely go beserk.

    Thanks for being a part of our team;
    You made it fun to work at full steam.
    May what you’ve learned be of use
    In the future endeavors you choose.

    Donata Oertel
    May 2011

  • Nernst Equation

    Nernst Equation

    (For Physiology 435)

    The Nernst equation is the basis
    For understanding current races.
    It assesses a balancing act,
    How two gradients interact.

    Donata Oertel
    January 2011

  • Upon the Retirement of Dan Yee

    Upon the Retirement of Dan Yee

    The retirement of our own Dan Yee
    Is a surprising and strange reality.
    For he’s so young and full of vitality.

    Drive up Randall or Monroe
    And you’ll pass a bicyclist you know
    Not just in rain but even in the snow.

    We may at times have taken for granted
    The help of someone so very talented
    Who made things that were unprecedented.

    And often, in the midst of a recording,
    When something suddenly stopped working,
    Dan found where problems were lurking.

    Who’s not had a computer unexpectedly fail,
    And, finding all data out of reach, turn pale?
    Luckily we’ve had Dan and Ravi to hail.

    Having been spoiled for so many years,
    We now look forward with some fears;
    For what we’ve had, though, we give cheers.

    Dan, so consistently and so professionally
    You’ve supported all work electronically.
    We thank you hugely and whole-heartedly.

    Donata Oertel
    December, 2010

  • Thank You, Ladera

    Thank You, Ladera

    For years we’ve turned to Ladera to know
    The things that make a department go.
    Not only how much money is left,
    But also which person has the heft
    In the campus administrative maze
    To put out a bureaucratic blaze.

    With my appointment as Interim Chair
    I became even more keenly aware
    Of Ladera’s knowledge and expertise
    That blows away problems in a breeze.
    She knows our good sides and our quirks
    And assures that we all worked without irks.

    I’ll bet you’ve sometimes made a detour,
    Even when you had no special need to,
    Through the first floor just to say hi
    To our wonderful office people in SMI.
    It’s Ladera who made the office so fine
    That it’s a place for which we pine.

    Ladera became a person we treasured,
    For collegiality that cannot be measured.
    Ladera always had a sympathetic ear
    And discretion that left nothing to fear.
    When we felt sad, or mad, or desperate
    There was always the bowl of chocolate.

    Ladera will soon no longer be close by
    And we will miss being able to rely
    On her presence here and her skills
    But rejoice at the liking she instills.
    We’re glad administratively she is moving up;
    Having her around has been GREAT luck.

    Donata Oertel
    Aug. 12, 2010

  • Rick Moss's Promotion to Senior Associate Dean

    Rick Moss’s Promotion to Senior Associate Dean

    A Department Chair must handle:
    Merger, staffing and administration,
    Writing letters, calendar conflicts and moments of frustration.
    Phone calls and arrangements always to be made,
    Budgets, low balances and bills to be paid.
    Lawsuits, lawyers and court hearings to attend,
    Always finding time for an ear to lend.
    Retirements, recruitments, promotions and such,
    Rarely is there time to take a long lunch.
    Teaching and mentoring, assigning space allocations,
    Working out arrangements for lab relocations.
    HR issues, policies and procedures to follow,
    For committees and meetings, there’s always tomorrow.

    Ladera Barnes
    August 7, 2009

  • Thank You Rick

    Thank You Rick

    For many years Rick’s been our Chair;
    He’s served us with tremendous flair.
    21 years Rick’s soldiered on with grace,
    Pulling together and building the place.
    If you visit his office, you likely get a smile
    Even if you demand an administrative mile
    No problem is too small or too large;
    He doesn’t hesitate to take on a charge.

    To review some of the chronology
    Of the Department of Physiology…
    It began way back in 1906
    And grew gradually, in little bits.
    Clinton Woolsey came in ’48,
    Forming a group that was separate.
    In ’74 the department split in two.
    (Some will remember who was who.)

    After being hired to Physiology in ’79,
    Rick’s been Chair since ’88–a long time!
    Much began to happen that was great.
    New faculty came through the gate,
    Research programs began to bustle
    With faculty willing and able to hustle.
    Studies included beating of hearts,
    Breathing, and moving of body parts.

    Colleagues watched from adjacent halls,
    How he responded to his faculty’s calls.
    To Rick Neurophysiologists turned
    When by politics they were burned.
    In ’97 it was decided that this was it;
    Rejoined were parts that once were split.
    Rick was faced with a job that grew;
    He became responsible for our varied crew.

    Twelve more years have quickly passed.
    And not surprisingly Rick was asked
    To become the Senior Associate Dean
    And to shepherd changes in our scene.
    We wish Rick a great many successes
    In dealing with administrative messes.
    We thank Rick for having done so much
    With his characteristic, kind, firm touch.

    Donata Oertel
    August 2009

  • Bill Rhode Awarded the von Bekesy Medal

    Bill Rhode Awarded the von Bekesy Medal

    People listened to von Bekesy when he did declare
    That the basilar membrane does in resonance ensnare
    The frequency of sound by its width and stiffness.
    Even ears of corpses can perform this passive business.
    A Nobel Prize came in 1961,
    But the story was not done.

    A bright, young engineering student came along
    Willing to use a technique that was new and strong.
    How can one measure mechanics without perturbation?
    With skill, hours of practice, and determination.
    Bill Rhode got insight;
    Von Bekesy was not all right.

    Bill found that a motor gives the ear its tuning
    That requires life and energy to support hearing.
    Not everyone agreed; many disparaged the notion
    That there is non-linearity in cochlear motion.
    Bill continued working.
    Others started doubting.

    That Bill was right has now been known for years
    The Bekesy Medal recognizes key work on ears.
    Even though Bill tends toward the understated;
    His work is by others no longer underrated.
    Bill earned this medal.
    We celebrate his mettle.

    Donata Oertel
    June 2009

  • Upon Bill Rhode's Retirement

    Upon Bill Rhode’s Retirement

    It was with considerable dismay
    That we learned just the other day
    That Bill Rhode has chosen to retire.
    The situation is luckily not fully dire
    Because he will continue not to shirk
    His scientific activities and his work.
    We can still stop downstairs to dispute
    How we hear or how to compute.

    Is it that Bill wants to see more light?
    His lab all these years has not been bright.
    From grad school to the day he retired
    The basement was where his work transpired.
    Bill worked long and hard in gloom
    With never a window in any room
    Off halls filled with things that long ago were bought
    And that await use but are rarely sought.

    The dreariness of his surroundings,
    Contrasts with Bill’s scientific findings.
    His work illuminated issue after issue.
    Without changing the mechanics of the tissue,
    When opening inner ears to measure what moved,
    Bill first used the Mossbauer Effect and proved
    That ears have motors that allow us to hear
    Small differences in pitch from far and near.

    His work also addressed the question how ears
    Feed information to the brain so that it hears.
    How is timing and spectrum used to glean
    Where sounds come from and what they mean?
    Some cochlear nuclear cells encode in microseconds
    And thus the ups and downs of sounds can reckon.
    Others integrate spectrally and take a broader view
    Of whats out there that is interesting and new.

    Bill’s work has been recognized far and wide.
    From fame, though, Bill has always shied.
    As a colleague he’s been modest and generous,
    Taking on tasks even when they were onerous.
    What Bill taught me was the basis of my career;
    He made what was complicated, usable and clear.
    For helping even when the going got rough,
    I cannot ever thank him quite enough.

    Donata Oertel
    Aug. 31, 2006

  • In Celebration of Robert Fettiplace

    In Celebration of Robert Fettiplace

    The Award of Merit goes to our Robert this year
    For work on transduction by cells of the ear.
    In and out, calcium and potassium dance around
    To make turtle cells tuned exquisitely to sound.
    Stereocilia don’t just yield to a push and lean
    But generate forces ever so quick and clean.
    Single transducer channels Robert studied next.
    They’re tricky because they need cells’ context.
    Robert made hair cells with just one that works
    And studied their opening, closing and other quirks.
    That calcium’s important has long been clear
    It’s buffered in hairs in the front and also in rear.
    Remove it and gone are the tip links that tug
    Let it in and, by golly, it acts like a plug.
    Cheers for Robert and well-earned recognition
    And for the beautiful work he did bring to fruition.

    Donata Oertel
    Nov. 22 2005

  • To Mary Ellen

    To Mary Ellen

    Mary Ellen’s departing is a great sadness,
    But thoughts of her leave us with gladness
    Her smile, her willingness to tackle any task,
    Sometimes almost without needing to ask,
    The color and flair that decorated days
    In numerous big and little ways.

    Most of us shun doing organization;
    On the first floor we found our salvation.
    A reception? “Don’t worry! It’s done!”
    Not just meat and cheese and a bun,
    “Should food be Italian or perhaps French?
    Projector wobbly? Hand me a wrench!”

    Then there are the multitudinous rules,
    Those juicy administrative jewels,
    That drag us freedom-loving academics
    Into fussing, fuming and polemics.
    Mary Ellen soothes, solutions does beget,
    And assures that regulations are all met.

    Mary Ellen’s also a great editorial assistant,
    Organized, timely and properly insistent
    In soliciting reviews and editor’s reactions,
    Then sending many papers in correct directions.
    How will we get along without you when you go?
    It’s a reason to stay in contact; we’ll let you know!

    Donata Oertel
    June 2002

  • Stephanie and Ed's Wedding

    One is More than Two

    (on Stephanie Gardner and Ed Bartlett’s Wedding)

    In the mid ’90s two students came
    Who were not at all the same.
    Quiet Ed joined the Hearing bunch
    With a ready smile, even in a crunch.
    Then Stephanie came with lots of friends,
    Willing to share the latest scientific trends.
    Coming together, it soon became clear
    That they hold one another quite dear.
    It’s been a joy to see them grow closer
    Around lab, home and meeting poster.
    No longer two separate young predocs
    A wedding joins the two as Drs.
    Three cheers to each of you two!
    Best wishes to the one pair of you!

    Donata Oertel
    Summer 2001?

  • On John Brugge's Retirement

    On John Brugge’s Retirement

    John’s announcement that he’d retire
    Brings thoughts of his career entire.
    In Neurophysiology, from postdoc to chair,
    He’s had colleagues and science to share.
    Beautiful papers leap to mind;
    First with Rose, Anderson, and Hind
    Peripheral phase-locking he revealed.
    Spikes on electrodes rocked and reeled
    As electrodes strode up the auditory path,
    From brain stem nuclei to the A1swath.
    Not just in adults but as animals mature
    John studied the responses slow but sure.
    Now in adult human he’s reached the top
    He can’t go higher but, unready to stop,
    Keeps going without formal requirement.
    We wish John happiness in his retirement.

    Donata Oertel
    April 29, 2001

  • Bill Rhode Wins the Award of Merit

    Bill Rhode Wins the Award of Merit

    Bill Rhode has illuminated cochlear mechanics,
    Showing that the vibrations there play funny antics.
    The basilar membrane’s not passive like a trampoline
    But contains a motor that makes it a machine.
    This gives our hearing tuning and resolution
    And also fragility subject to noise pollution.
    He’s also been probing the responses to sound
    Of cochlear nuclear neurons, globular and round.
    It’s typical of Bill to be quiet and understated;
    How nice to know his work’s appreciated!
    The ARO decided this year to accord
    Bill Rhode with the annual Merit Award
    We wish him our heartfelt congratulations,
    Rejoice in our friendship and collegial relations.

    Donata Oertel
    October 2000

  • Richard L. Moss, Distinguished Teacher

    Richard L. Moss, Distinguished Teacher

    Richard L. Moss of this honor is most deserving
    For his dedication is quite amazingly unswerving.
    Come early and he’s already there in the morning;
    Leave late and there’s his car, the lot adorning.

    With a BS from Oshkosh, Rick’s a Wisconsin man.
    After a stay in Vermont he had a PhD in hand;
    Then with a postdoc in Boston, his training was done
    And he was ready for a real job in Madison.

    In Physiology since nineteen seventy nine
    Rick rose through the ranks rapidly from that time.
    He was appointed its Chair in nineteen eighty eight
    When the Department was not in a very good state.

    Under Rick’s guidance, however, it thrived and grew
    And with a merger became something quite new.
    Rick keeps us in line and leads with great style;
    In spite of the burdens he greets all with a smile.

    His work all along’s been on muscle contraction;
    How legs, arms and hearts regulate their action.
    Numerous, fine, peer-reviewed publications
    Document cross-bridges and their gyrations.

    Today it’s Rick’s teaching that we celebrate,
    And his ability with students to communicate.
    Rick teaches not just about cardiovascular function,
    But also how fright gives more strength and gumption.

    A highlight comes on St. Valentine’s Day,
    (At least that’s what many of the students say.)
    Love, he teaches, is at the physiological junction
    Of autonomic and cardiovascular function.

    Donata Oertel
    April 2000

  • We Will Miss You, Joan

    We Will Miss You, Joan

    (On the retirement of Joan Meister)

    Upon the retirement of our friend and colleague, Joan,
    Whom we feel lucky to have worked with and known,
    We wish you joy with your friends and your family,
    Especially with grandchildren, Tommy and Emily.
    For twenty six years we in Neuro- and Physiology
    Enjoyed both kindness and great skill in histology.
    Countless pieces of tissue, both large and very small,
    From precious experiments whose details we need to recall,
    Joan patiently sectioned, stained and mounted on slides.
    That work was critical for making the scientific strides
    For which our laboratory group is rather well known.
    In the last 19 years more tasks were thrown upon Joan-
    Gallons and gallons of salines – about 7000 in all –
    In the morning so early that experiments did not stall.
    Going to work will never again be quite the same.
    As in the many acknowledgments that include your name,
    We thank you for your kindness, generosity and support.
    Please come back sometimes and give us a report
    If the table holds up your work as you have ours
    Or if it’s just decorated, perhaps with flowers.

    Donata Oertel
    March 2000

  • Exchange with Mike Huffman on saving energy by dimming lights

    Exchange with Mike Huffman on saving energy by dimming lights

    (Campus was trying to save energy by installing dimmer lights)


    With little complaint we’ve been squished
    Into much less space than we’ve wished.
    It used to be cheery,
    Now it’s just eerie.
    Please have pity on us, be canny
    Get some light into our little cranny!



    Got your request
    We’re doing our best
    One of these nights
    They will finish the lights
    Then with a grin
    I’ll bring them back in
    And illuminate your space once again.



    Thanks Mike! Things now again are right
    Our lab and lives are filled with light!
    Even those with aging eyes can see
    Where those tiny bits of tissue be.
    We can fill and aim our glass pipette
    To learn how cells our hearing beget.


    Late 1990’s(?)

  • To Dick Olson Upon his Retirement

    To Dick Olson Upon his Retirement

    One of the sad things as one ages
    Is the witnessing of changes.
    Colleagues who’re a treasure
    Choose retirement and pleasure
    Leaving us to carry on alone.
    While sadness is a background drone,
    A gladness also joins the chorus–
    What a priviledge it’s been for us
    To have the aid of one like you,
    Nice and competent and true.
    When problems led to pulling hairs,
    We could just call the shop downstairs.
    Of course the job got done-but more-
    Your call left satisfaction to the core.
    It also left glimpses of a man,
    Perceptive, smart, kind and warm.
    You’ve earned your freedom and rest.
    Many, many thanks and all the best.

    Donata Oertel

  • Thank You, Jo Ann

    Thank You, Jo Ann

    (On the retirement of Jo Ann Ekleberry)

    Dear friend and colleague, Jo Ann Ekleberry,
    We hope that to retirement you’ll carry
    Thoughts and thanks and best of wishes
    For health and peace and crochet stitches
    From us who’ve been so very lucky
    To have worked with one so kind and plucky.

    Neurons in the brain lie in a terrible tangle.
    To learn what’s where and at what angle,
    You fixed and cut, stained and mounted,
    Assuring that no piece was discounted,
    Thousands of brains in Neurophysiology
    Without complaint – only occasional apology.

    With patience and skill, you were not stymied
    Even when the tissue was huge or tiny.
    You brought warmth, caring and generosity,
    Sharing joys and sorrows without pomposity.
    The thought that we’ll see you less brings sadness,
    But having known you brings enduring gladness.

    Donata Oertel
    Jan. 6, 1998

  • Coming Together

    Coming Together

    (On the merger of Neurophysiology and Physiology)

    Together, a long way we’ve come,
    In joining two departments into one.
    It’s a sensible, logical junction
    Of those in the school who study function.
    From molecules to systems whole,
    We seek to understand the role.
    Some of us focus on the heart;
    Others are just getting a start
    Understanding how the brain works,
    How cells all over share their quirks.
    In the days and weeks and years ahead,
    We won’t be separate but instead
    We’ll work in labs and talk and teach
    With more good colleagues within reach.
    With so much gusto in our biology
    Our future is bright in Physiology!

    Donata Oertel
    July 1997

  • Thanks to John Brugge

    Thanks to John Brugge

    This party here today
    Reflects our wish to say,
    That, John, we thank you
    For being chair, and Dotty too.
    Four great colleagues
    Add fresh, new expertise
    And make our research perk.
    You’ve made our place of work
    Both pleasant and fulfilling.
    The office cares for billing.
    Shops help make contraptions.
    Computers, no longer bastions
    For those with expertise,
    Are linked to work with ease.
    Histologists are always willing,
    In all their jobs great skill instilling.
    Photography and illustration,
    Serve nearly the whole nation!
    Your kindness and integrity
    Make ours a better university.
    Hats off to you, John Brugge!
    Relax! (I wonder, could he?)

    Donata Oertel
    Aug. 9, 1996

  • Thank You Terry

    Thank You Terry

    (On the retirement of Terry Stewart)

    Long you have captured the fruits of our labors;
    You’ve caught people in some of their capers.
    Your tease and your quip and your smile
    Have given us the spirit to push, mile after mile.
    We thank you.
    We will miss you.

    Donata Oertel
    Sep. 7, 1995

  • Happy Birthday to Joe Hind

    Happy Birthday to Joe Hind

    We joyfully join to celebrate
    April 2, a very special date.
    April brings flowers and mirth
    And also the day of your birth.
    As we delight in your collegiality,
    We wish you joy and joviality,
    As you help the cortex to unfold
    And give up secrets yet untold.
    With thanks for all your caring.
    Your help, and constant sharing.
    May happiness come your way.
    To Joe, our friend, happy birthday!

    Donata Oertel
    April, 1991

  • To Joe Hind, upon his Retirement

    To Joe Hind, upon his Retirement

    This is dedicated to Joseph E. Hind,
    A privilege to know, one of a kind.
    Gentle, warm and ever willing to share,
    His time, thought and thorough care.
    Being smart and kind in equal measure
    Makes him a colleague who’s a treasure.
    As its first chair, Joe made Neurophysiology,
    A place that thrives without apology.
    For space he was not grabby,
    So we work closely, rarely crabby,
    With lots of talk and interaction
    That makes the place ever full of action.
    With Jerzy Rose he made a team
    And contributions held in high esteem.
    The auditory nerve was the first focus,
    Then the AVCN became the locus,
    To show phase-locking in early papers.
    Four authors circling in playful capers,
    They delight those who join the band,
    Of physiologists seeking to understand
    How mammals find and stay in tune.
    That cells’re remarkable one cannot impugn.
    Joe brought computers, for problems to rout
    That now we really couldn’t do without.
    More recent work, too, is of great reknown
    Showing what cues separate up from down.

    Donata Oertel

  • The Star-Spangled Unit

    The Star-Spangled Unit

    Oh, say, can you see, by the scope’s fading light,
    What so proudly we held at the twilight’s last gleaming,
    Whose low threshold and large spikes through the perilous night,
    O’er the Graphics we watched were so gallantly firing?
    And the speaker’s loud blare, Onsets bursting in air,
    Gave proof thro’ the night that our Unit was still there.
    Oh, say, does that star-spangled Unit yet fire
    O’er the lab of the three, and the experiment of the tired !

    On the scope, dimly seen thro’ the mists of sleep,
    While the reddened eye, half opens, and half closes,
    What is that which the driven field o’er the background sweep,
    As it fitfully moves, half conceals, half discloses?
    Now it catches the level of the channel-B trigger
    ‘Tis the star-spangled Unit, oh long may it fire
    O’er the lab of the three, and the experiment of the tired !

    Oh, thus be it ever when SC experiments are done
    Between lost sanity and the edge of desperation;
    Blest with non-mushy apples, and easy to use programs
    Praise the power that hath saved our situation!
    Then record data we must, when our cause is just,
    And this be our motto: “In TCT is our trust !”
    And the star-spangled Unit in triumph doth fire,
    O’er the lab of the three, and the experiment of the tired!

    Judy Hirsch, Joe Chan, and anonymous
    Sep. 4, 1982
    For 82-119
    (with apologies to Francis Scott Key)

  • Say Not the Experiment Naught Availeth

    Say Not the Experiment Naught Availeth

    Say not the experiment naught availeth,
    All the penetrations are in vain,
    The unit holds not, nor driveth,
    And as things have been they remain.

    If hopes were dupes, fears may be liars,
    It may be, in yon noise concealed,
    Your electrode nears e’en now the binaurals,
    And, but for you, the disc is filled.

    For while the tired eyes, vainly looking,
    Seem here no painful spike to observe,
    Far down, in the fourth and sixth layers lurking,
    Hides silent, waiting, the Delay Curve.

    And not by the visual layers only,
    With pip-sweep driven, comes in the spike,
    At first, driven units come slow, how slowly,
    But near dawn, look, the outlook is bright.

    Judy Hirsch, Joe Chan, and anonymous
    Aug. 12, 1982
    For 82-111
    (with apologies to Arthur Hugh Clough)

  • Charge of the Lunatic Brigade

    Charge of the Lunatic Brigade

    Half a micron, half a micron
    Half a micron onward
    All in the valley of SC
    Rode the brave three.
    Forward, the Lunatic Brigade !
    Charge for the Units, said T.C.T,
    Into the Valley of SC
    Rode the brave three .

    Forward, the Lunatic Brigade
    Was there a person dismayed?
    Not tho’ the students knew
    Someone had blundered :
    Theirs not to make reply
    Theirs not to reason why
    Theirs but to do or die
    Into the valley of SC
    Rode the brave three.

    60 Hz to right of them,
    60 Hz to left of them,
    FFR in front of them,
    Volleyed and thunder’d.
    Stormed with bad PAR and cable ,
    Doing as best as able,
    Into the jaws of SC
    Hoping for a Unit stable
    Rode the brave three.

    Tried all the stimuli here
    Flashed the lights here and there,
    Avoiding the Cortical layer
    Charging the brain, while
    All the department wondered.
    Stooped on the too low chairs
    Meaningless words they spoke.
    Neurons and Glial cells,
    Reeled from the sharp electrode.
    Red eyed and bleary
    Then they rode back, but now
    Not the brave three.

    Graphics to the right of them
    DSS to left of them
    Dead units behind of them
    Stormed at by rotten luck
    While prof and student fell
    They that had tried so hard
    Came thro’ the jaws of boredom
    Back from the end of SC
    All that was left of them
    Left of the brave three.

    When can their memory fade?
    Oh, the wild penetrations they made!
    All the department wondered.
    Honor the effort they made !
    Honor the Lunatic Brigade,
    Noble one Hundred.

    Judy Hirsch, Joe Chan, and anonymous
    July 22, 1982
    For 82-103
    (with apologies to Alfred, Lord Tennyson)