Faculty Bookshelf: An interview with Professor Jani Lewis

Biology professor Dr. Jani Lewis

A continuing series of interviews with SUNY Geneseo faculty on their reading interests; today’s “Faculty Bookshelf” delves into the pursuits of Biology professor, Jani Lewis.

Biology professor Dr. Jani Lewis

Biology professor Dr. Jani Lewis

Professor Lewis’ reading interests could be described as both predictable and diverse including genre’s related to her biology research and those she has loved since childhood.

What are your current research Interests?

My current research interests involve vulvar cancer.  It appears that some cancers react differently to a commonly used drug for treating vulvar rashes.  Some cancers will cease growth while others may actually develop into more severe forms of the cancer.  Vulvar cancer is a rare cancer among women and so has not been studied extensively but is a very serious cancer afflicting mainly those over the age of 60 and often those who do not see a gynecologist regularly.  I work with an OB/GYN doctor at the University of Rochester, Dr. David Foster, to study this disease.

What is your favorite literary genre to read for pleasure?

I love science fiction and fiction in general but I also love reading science history.  Yes, I am a science geek but also love a good mystery.
Emperor of all Maladies book cover We'll Always have Paris book cover

What books are on your nightstand now?

I have several and mostly half finished.  My biggest problem is starting a book without finishing the one I am presently reading.  I have The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer by Siddhartha Mukherjee and We’ll Always Have Paris: Stories by Ray Bradbury.

Tell us about a book that changed your life:

That would be hard to ascribe to just one book. I can say that several books greatly influenced my life. The ones that come to mind are A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson, Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, A Swiftly Tilting Planet by Madeleine L’Engle, “Egg and Ego: an almost true story of life in the biology lab” by J. M. W. Slack are among the ones that immediately come to mind.

A Short History of Nearly Everything book cover Frankenstein book cover A swiftly tilting planet book cover Egg and Ego book cover

Name a book you just couldn’t finish:

Oh this is the story of my life! I frequently pick up a book and then find that I just can’t get into it. The latest one that I tried reading over the summer was “Middlesex” by Jeffrey Eugenides. I know it was a work of great acclaim but I just couldn’t get into it.

Watership down cover imageEncyclopedia Brown book coverWhat were your favorite books as a child?

I loved all of Madeleine L’Engle’s books. I was a big reader of the Black Stallion series by Walter Farley and the Flame series also by Farley. I read the Encyclopedia Brown series by Donald Sobol and Watership Down as well as several of Richard Adams other books were among my favorites.

Do you have any favorite books related to your academic background in cell and molecular biology?

Experiments and observations of the gastric juice book title pageThere is a great book which I have gone back to a lot over the years called Experiments and Observations on the Gastric Juice, and the Physiology of Digestion by William Beaumont.  It’s a fascinating account of an American physiologist who studied the gastric juices of a soldier over many years.  The soldier  just so happened to have a gun inflicted fissure in his stomach which allowed the physician to remove the stomach contents when ever he wished and examine the digestion process.  The study took place in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s and it is amazing to learn about medicine and research during that period from this first hand account.

Many of these books are available in the Milne Library collection and the others are available via IDS, simply click on the links or book covers above to get the call number or click “Get It” to request the book via IDS.