Yeah, literally. My advisor sent me a note five years later. It was this little clipping out of the side of a newspaper that says, “Military declassifies ray gun.” He goes, “Yeah, this is your research.” I’m like, “Well, you didn’t tell me it was classified.”
I said, “I thought it was weird that three people from Brooks Air Force Base showed up on the study that I submitted and got published.” He’s like, “Yeah, it was so classified, we couldn’t tell you it was classified.” I’m like, “That’s great.” Luckily enough it got published, I was able to get done with that.
I started working in the medical device industry actually, worked in cardiology products for 10-plus years, looking at implantable pacemakers, defibrillators, everything from how to read EKGs, how does the device work. Talking to a lot of reps, nurses, physicians.
Everything from a patient who had a device who’s afraid to get near their microwave so they were standing around the corner trying to close the door with a broomstick, to electro-physiologist that just put in the new device and the lead little wires that run in the heart is tangled around the value, “What do they do now?” A wide variety of stuff.
Along that time I was still trying to learn about physiology and I was going to go back and do a master’s in physiology. I met a guy who worked for a different company and he’s like, “Well, why would you do a master’s? You should just do a PhD in biomedical engineering,” which was more accepted at that time.
I’m like, “OK. That sounds a little bit better, I guess.” Finally, I applied to the University of Minnesota. It took me about two-and-a-half years to get into the program for PhD in biomedical engineering. Long story short, it was…application process was weird.
I got annoyed at the end so I figured out who was the guy who had to decide and I literally just started showing up outside his office every day for three-and-a-half weeks [laughs] during a set period of time when he was supposed to be there.
Towards the end of the third week, he finally shows up and I said, “Hey, can I talk to you about my application?” He’s like, “Yeah, sure, sit down.” He was like, “I don’t know, I’ve never seen it. I don’t know where it went. I don’t know what happened to it.”
There was these papers strewn all over his desk. You could barely see his head, buried behind books and paper. I don’t know why I just jokingly said, “Is it in that purple folder?” which was literally buried under six books.
As soon as I said it I was like, “My God, this is so bad. He’s going to kick me out of his office.” He picks it up and looks inside and was like, “I’ll be damned, it is.” [laughs]
I was like, “OK.” He looks at it and he goes, “Your master’s GPA is pretty low.” It was a 3.5. He looks at my GRE score and he’s like, “Is this a typo?” [laughs] “The advice I got which is horrible was, “Don’t worry so much about the GRE. You’ve been taking classes here for two-and-a-half years. Just walk in and take it.”
Like an idiot, that’s what I did. I didn’t do so well on the math section. I did really good on the vocab and the writing. I did horrible on the math. My overall score wasn’t too bad but it was literally the inverse of everyone who applies for engineering school.
I got in luckily. I was on probation literally for a year and a half. I did it for five years actually but I couldn’t get any funding so I ended up dropping out of that because I would spend all my free time learning about physiology, going to physiology conferences, going to conferences that trainers would go to.
I would basically sit there and annoy them about research studies. I’m like, “Hey, did you see this research study?” They’d look at me really funny. I’m like, “You guys are personal trainers and coaches, right? Don’t you read research?” Most of the time they are like, “No, that’s why we come to these things.”
“Oh.” [laughs] I ended up not wanting to do anymore math…went on to the Physiology Department, the PhD program there for exercise physiology that fall…had to start over from ground zero.
The first meeting I have, it’s a department meeting, my adviser walks in and he’s like, “Hey, we got two new projects and they both involve a lot of math” which, when you’re an exercise physicist student you don’t take a lot of advanced math.
You’re not really taking Calc. 4 and differential equations and [inaudible 14:31] equations and variability analysis and all this stuff. He looks around the table and he points at me at the end. He’s like, “Hey you, math boy, whatever your name is. These projects are yours now.” That’s how I got started with heart-rate variability and metabolic flexibility about almost 13 years ago now.