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Character

Cougar Query: "Growing plants in my childhood vegetable garden sparked my interest in my field"

Name: Rick Jellen

BYU employee since: 1996

My job at BYU is… a professor of genetics and associate dean (facilities, graduate education, diversity and international study programs) in the College of Life Sciences.

Professional portrait of BYU professor Rick Jellen.
A professor of genetics at BYU, Rick Jellen studies crop genetics of quinoa and oats.

I’m currently working on… crop genetics, especially of quinoa and oats.

I’m currently reading… “The Man Who Loved China,” a book about the twentieth-century Cambridge biochemist Joseph Needham, authored by Simon Winchester.

I get most excited about my work when… I see something under the microscope that nobody has ever seen.

Growing plants in my childhood vegetable garden ...sparked my interest in my field.

My mission to Peru ...changed the way I view my purpose in life because I discovered that most people on earth face daily challenges, like what can they afford to eat, that are much greater than the ones I ever faced.

My favorite part about teaching is… seeing a student discover a relationship between two diverse concepts for the first time.

My favorite lecture to teach is… the story about Vavilov, Lysenko, and Brücher (the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of crop genetics — ask me about it sometime).

When I have 30 minutes of free time, you can find me… looking something up on Wikipedia.

My advice to graduating seniors is… read 1 Timothy 6:10 and Mormon 8:37.

My go-to BYU Creamery ice cream flavor is… Graham Canyon.

I chose to come to BYU because... the balance between research and teaching was appealing, and I could talk openly about my faith.

My most cherished memory at BYU is… the (illegal) Deseret Towers vs Helaman Halls snowball fight on the DT field in winter 1981. Followed by Danny Ainge’s victory over Notre Dame in the Sweet 16 later that semester.

Rick Jellen 1.jpg
Dr. Jellen's go-to comfort food is anything Mexican, and his favorite BYU athlete is Steve Young.

Three things that are always found in my refrigerator are… frijoles, Pico Pica salsa and tortillas.

You’ll never find me without… multiple photos of my grandkids.

I’m most looking forward to… meeting Zeniff in the hereafter.

My favorite quote is… "Those who look for the bad in people will surely find it" (Abraham Lincoln).

My favorite TV show growing up was… Bugs Bunny cartoons.

One item on my bucket list is… to see the karst topography in Guilin.

If I could travel anywhere, I would go to... Iran because it has a fascinating history, beautiful carpets and amazing architecture.

My fondest memory from my childhood is when… my new stepmother introduced us to our first real Christmas in 1971.

My most embarrassing moment was when… I went to class buck naked. (I’m almost 100% positive I had that dream multiple times.)

The biggest challenge I’ve faced was... having a child with cancer.

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