Recorded: 29 Apr 2005
I was born in Madison, Wisconsin, and grew up in a very small town in Wisconsin, Evansville, that is twenty-three miles south of Madison. I went to the University of Wisconsin as an undergraduate and majored in chemistry and there weren’t very many women majoring in chemistry in those days.
Then I was a graduate student in molecular biology—biochemistry and molecular biology at Harvard. That’s where I met my husband, Dick [Burgess]. After we got our Ph.D.s we went to the Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Geneva, Switzerland, and did two years of postdoctoral work. I was working with Bernard Mach and then, lo and behold, Dick was offered a job in Madison, which I was very pleased about—to come back.
For the first two years when we came back, I worked in his lab as a postdoc and assistant scientist was the title. Soon after that I wanted to move off onto my own a little more and got involved with an undergraduate honors program called the Biology Core Curriculum. I did a one-year volunteer teaching with the program and then was hired to run the laboratory for the Cell Biology course.
Over the years my involvement with Biocore just grew and grew and grew and, in 1990, I was made the director of the program. From 1990 to 2002, when I retired, I was head of this undergraduate honors program and it was a lot of fun. I really enjoyed that. So I did two things; I coordinated the program and recruited facility to serve in it and dealt with budgets and deans and so on, but I also taught the first two laboratories. It’s a four-semester sequence. So in the fall semester I taught evolution, ecology and genetics and in the spring semester I taught the cellular biology lab. These are both lab courses.
I retired in 2002. The university started a new program last year where they have hired four retired facility staff, two academic staff, and two faculty to be ombuspersons for the university. It’s very part time. We share the position so that we have a lot of flexibility. Right now I’m helping people solve disputes or hoping they don’t escalate into grievances and lawsuits. Trying to solve them early.
Ann Burgess is the Director Emeritus of the Biology Core Curriculum. She earned her B.S. in chemistry from UW-Madison and her Ph.D. in biochemistry and molecular biology from Harvard University. She was a Senior Lecturer at the University of Wisconsin-Madison from 1987 to 2002.
Biology Core Curriculum is four semester intercollege honors program that provides a broad and integrated background for students interested in any field of biological science. She is interested in undergraduate science education with a particular accent on laboratory and filed experiences that absorb students in process of science.
Ann Burgess is running in several UW-Madison and national efforts to advance science education, including the BioQUEST Consortium and the National Institute of Science Education's College Level One team.