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I Married a Dragon

And She Still Inspires Me

By Everyday JunglistPublished about a month ago 3 min read
Top Story - March 2024
Image by license from Adobe Stock

My wife is a polymath and highly accomplished research scientist who skipped high school to attend college at the age of 14 which speaks to her intellectual capabilities. She holds a masters degree in microbiology and immunology from the University of Virginia and has a long list of publications as both lead author and co-author in the peer reviewed scientific literature, including a most recent second authorship in the prestigious journal Science. She has worked with highly dangerous pathogens for much of her career, and is a recognized expert on Yersinia pestis (Bubonic plague), and Bacillus anthracis (Anthrax). Lest you think she is some pale skinned lab nerd who has spent her entire life locked in a lab chained to a bench, she has also been a field biologist. She worked for five years in the Daintree Rainforest in Australia chasing down the source of mycobacterium ulcerans, cause of a terrible skin disease that plagues indigenous populations there. The Daintree is often called the most dangerous forest in the world, and is not a place most people would want to visit for a day, let alone work in, five to seven days a week for five years.

In addition to her professional bona fides she also happens to be an accomplished athlete and was a state of Virginia women’s fencing champion, competitive swimmer, and basketball player. She also holds a green belt in krav maga, the fighting discipline of the Israeli defense forces, and is expert or near expert level with weapons of all varieties, and highly talented sharpshooter with a rifle and handgun. She is competent or fluent in at least six languages including ancient Greek, Latin, and middle Egyptian (hieroglyphics)

Simply put, my wife is one of the most all around impressive persons I have ever met. Shockingly, because she is so humble and speaks of herself so little, almost no one is aware of just how accomplished and talented a person she is. All of that would be unbelievable enough from a person who grew up under ideal conditions with a loving family and stable home, but when you consider how she was raised, what she has managed to achieve is truly awe inspiring. She grew up in the backwoods of Kentucky under terrible conditions with a cruel and mentally abusive mother and a mostly absent uncaring father. The stories she has relayed of her youth are as terrifying and ugly as any I have ever heard or seen. Her mother is a diagnosed malignant narcissist, and if you are not aware of what that is, consider yourself lucky. The malignant subtype is the only subtype of narcissistic personality disorders with no known effective treatment and certainly no “cure.” Some of the most dangerous and despicable people in the history of the world have been diagnosed as having malignant subtype NPD. I am not suggesting that her mother rises to that level, however, she is highly intelligent like her daughter, but also, cold, callous, manipulative, and cruel, four things which are as alien to my wife as the idea of cowardice.

I can tell one story about her which is illustrative of her courage. Prior to her current role she worked at one of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's regional biocontainment laboratories. Her her lab was one of the first to receive Covid19 positive clinical samples. At that time there was much fear and very little was known about exactly how dangerous these materials were. When the samples began to arrive some suddenly decided they didn't want to work there anymore. These same people had previously been fighting tooth and nail to get time in the facility. My wife showed no fear and went straight to the lab and began to work, a thing which she did at a frantic and virtually non-stop pace for the next close to six months. I watched her work 12-16 hour days in some of the most grueling conditions imaginable, having to doff and don full biocontainment suit to enter and exit the lab each day. Many of her colleagues broke under the stress during that time, but she persevered, and made significant and important contributions to Covid19 vaccine research. Once after a particularly long week I asked her why she did it, why she kept at it when so many others did not. She replied simply, “because no one else can.” Those words speak volumes to her character and her bravery during that time, and they are one reason why, in addition to being my wife, she happens to be my hero, and an inspiration to me each and every day. If ever there were a dragon in human form, it is her.


About the Creator

Everyday Junglist

Practicing mage of the natural sciences (Ph.D. micro/mol bio), Thought middle manager, Everyday Junglist, Boulderer, Cat lover, No tie shoelace user, Humorist, Argan oil aficionado. Occasional LinkedIn & Facebook user

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Comments (14)

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  • Maria Ontouli about a month ago

    Beautiful story!

  • Kalina Bethanyabout a month ago

    And now an inspiration for me... what a beautiful story and woman!

  • Pat pafabout a month ago

    Your wife is a strong woman

  • LASZLO SLEZAKabout a month ago

    Congrats on Top Story!

  • Testabout a month ago

    Kudos! Keep excelling in your work—congratulations!

  • Rachel Deemingabout a month ago

    What a woman! That's inspiration right there! I think you were right to applaud her and all that she does and it sounds like we owe her an enormous debt of gratitude in the face of life-threatening circumstances. Thank you for sharing her story too. You know, I feel buoyed by reading this. Let her know that, will you, on my behalf? These are the people we should emulate - the humble ones who do so much simply because they can. Wonderful!

  • Your wife's story is truly remarkable, a testament to her resilience, courage, and brilliance.

  • A. J. Schoenfeldabout a month ago

    Your wife sounds amazing and is clear you are so very proud of her. Rightfully so, I might add. On a personal note, please express my gratitude to your wife for her work on the vaccine. I lost my father to COVID, but because of the vaccine we were able to be by his side even in the hospital. He was super high risk with a suppressed immune system so the vaccine wasn't enough to save him, but it was enough to allow us some very precious final moments at his side.

  • Emos Sibu Poriei (Kaya)about a month ago

    Wow! She is amazing! Congratulations on Top Story! Best!

  • I wanted include this in the story but the story length limits for the challenge did not allow it. My wife was robbed of her Ph.D. when her major professor stole her work and patented it, leaving her unable to publish and thus unable to fulfill the degree requirements. This was a despicable and cowardly act with life-long, life-altering consequences and it happens disproportionately to female graduate students in the sciences. I have been sorely tempted on many occasions to raise holy hell with UVA over this travesty of justice, but my wife has stopped me each time. She rightly points out that Universities have been know to retroactively rescind the degrees of graduates who make trouble and give them any bad press. Amazingly she does not dwell on it and has accepted it as just a part of life and moved on. For some reason that makes me even angrier, but it is a good reminder for Women's day that women still face discrimination and that they are truly the more mature sex.

  • Anna about a month ago

    Congrats on Top Story!🥳🥳🥳

  • Lydia Stewartabout a month ago


  • Celia in Underlandabout a month ago

    Such a beautifully writtem piece and the love and respect you have for her made me tear up Her work on the vaccine is phenomenal and she sounds like a truly remarkable person. 🤍

  • sleepy draftsabout a month ago

    Wow!! Your wife sounds like an incredible woman. A truly inspiring dragon. 💗

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