The Life Work of Dr. Ted Jones

Dr. Edward (Ted) G Jones

On March 26, the UC Davis neuroscience community paid tribute to the remarkable influence that Dr. Edward (Ted) Jones, the former director of our Center for Neuroscience, had on them. Part memorial and part scientific symposium, attendees were privileged to see Dr. Jones’ legacy presented across four major themes. Speakers included old friends and colleagues, previous trainees who went on to start their own labs, and faculty who were hired by Ted to the Center for Neuroscience.

The symposium started with Thalamo-Cortical Circuitry with presentations from Mark Goldman, Clay Reid, Aric Agmon, Marty Usrey, and Jochen Ditterich. It was easy to see how his seminal work still influences the questions we are still trying to answer.

In the Plasticity and Development discussion, Marie Burns reminded us that even the great Ted Jones had periods of lower productivity (and by that we mean < 5 publications that year).  The session included presentations from John Rubenstein, Deanna Benson, Hwai-Jong Cheng, and Karen Zito.

As a student attendee, a true highlight was the talk by Larry Squire on the History of Neuroscience. It is all too easy to get caught up in trying to stay on top of what is being published right now. Dr. Squire’s and Dr. Jones’ shared passion for documenting how our field has developed is contagious.

The last session featured a more recent dimension of Ted’s work: Diseases of Brain Circuitry, with a focus on schizophrenia. Presenters were Noelle L’Etoile, Davis Lewis, Schahram Akbarian, Kim McAllister, and Charan Ranganath.

Finally, attendees were privileged to hear from Ted’s close, longtime friend Rodolfo Llinas.

Many graduate students, even those not lucky enough to have been taught by Ted, attended the symposium. Some of them shared their thoughts:

One student noted, “Being new to the Center for Neuroscience, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Each story, though, unfolded in such a cohesive way that it left you only curious about what the next speaker would share about Ted Jones as a mentor, as a scientist, as a friend, as a grandfather, and as a leader.  From what it seems, his influence had much to do with the unassuming, humble, and very passionate attitudes of the speakers, who will undoubtedly carry on his commitment to conducting quality science.”

Doug Totten, a 3rd year graduate student in Will DeBello’s lab, “found the personal reflections and stories inspirational.  Even second-hand exposure to intimate interactions with a scientist like Dr. Jones let you know that he was a living, loving human being just like ourselves, and that such monumental accomplishments are achievable if one can just summon the passion, dedication and muster to see them through.”

The most memorable part of the symposium for Samuel Lockhart, 4th year graduate student in Charlie DeCarli’s lab, “might have been during a break in the lobby when I got to chat with Sue, Dr. Jones’ wife. She described how Dr. Jones’ colleagues are always amazed at how much work he got done when he was at Oxford (e.g., multiple seminal publications) and that he really did work incredibly hard during that period: he only took one day off a week, he often worked for an entire day before dinner and an entire workday again after dinner… it just reminded me of Dr. Jones’ incredible work ethic and inspired me to suck it up and work harder.”

— contributed by Andrea Quintero, 4th year graduate student in Tony Simon’s lab

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