Home economics led to stellar career

By Sam Hurley

A former Tamatea High School student would never have thought taking a home-economics class instead of learning to dance would help turn him into one of the brightest minds in the biology world.

Carl Yeoman, 33, is recognised as a leader in his field of bacteria and has addressed many conferences throughout the US.

His proud parents, Jim and Trish Yeoman, still live in Hawke's Bay, said from the time he refused to learn to dance at intermediate and was required to take a home-economics class instead, Carl had his first fascination with food science.

This passion continued through high school and he entered Massey University in Palmerston North to study food technology.

"At 12, one of his teachers told him to go and buy a home brew kit," said Jim. "At the end of that, his first year at uni, his mentor proposed he forget that year and start again but enter the domain of molecular micro-biology."

His marks through his academic career were so high that when he achieved his master's degree, he was granted the first year of his PhD.

While studying for his PhD, Meat NZ sponsored him.

Carl achieved his doctorate and worked as a bacteriologist with AgResearch for five years before taking a position with Illinois University.

After being with them for a year he heard of another laboratory at the university that was about to enter a scientific study that he had always had a fascination in, so he offered to work with them in his time off.

"After a discussion with the head scientist, Carl was asked to oversee the whole project - which he accepted."

During this time he had the honour of being visited by Carl Woese, who is recognised by some as as being the greatest anthropologist since Charles Darwin.

"Carl Woese was extremely impressed with some of the scientific results being achieved, and more so that they were proving some of his theories to be fact," said his father.

An opportunity to move on came when Carl Yeoman's boss presented some of his work to a conference that was attended by senior staff of the Mayo Clinic, but chose instead to take a Montana State University offer as assistant professor along with a start-up package excluding wages.

"He did not choose the clinic because they could only offer him a junior role and he had to wear a suit and cut his hair," Jim Yeoman said. "His time at the university consists of roughly 70 per cent lab work, 20 per cent lecturing and 10 per cent representing the university and speaking at conferences."

Carl said on his blog that the whirlwind nature of his job has kept him busy but excited.

"In the past nine weeks, I have been in four countries, and several cities in Montana.

"I was an invited speaker at the annual Bertinoro Computational Biology meeting in Bertinoro, Italy." he said.

"I have been teaching Advanced Ruminant Nutrition to eight very talented graduate students.

"I have written several grants. Perhaps the majority of my time has been spent kicking off several research programmes."

Now settled in Montana with his wife Casey and their three children, Carl has made huge and almost unbelievable achievements in the past year.

"He has had many scientific papers printed, culminating with a paper written with colleagues being classed as editor's choice in on of the world's leading science magazines," said Jim.

"Soon he is about to embark upon a European tour which will involve five conferences. However this tour is now having to be cut short as he has had a letter inviting him to fly to Washington DC to sit on the board of 20 that considers and allocates funding for scientific projects throughout the USA.

"He is living the dream."


- Hawkes Bay Today

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