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Home > New Biology Professor Making Inroads

Professor Doran's Research Gaining Attention

September 5th, 2007

CONTACT:  David Halbrook
Patrick Henry College
(540) 338-8727

Dr. Neil Doran

Dr. Neil Doran

As Patrick Henry’s new Assistant Professor of Biology, Dr. Neal Doran says he first decided to study biology as a freshman engineering major at the University of Florida.

“I was miserable (studying engineering),” he laughs, “and I’d been fascinated with the issues of creation and evolution ever since high school, when I debated them with my friends.”

One of those high school friends was an atheist, with whom Doran recalls riding in a car as his friend raced along the highway at breakneck speeds. Doran’s voice softens at the memory.

“At my ten-year reunion, out of six hundred people, this friend was one of four already dead,” he recalls. “He didn’t live more than ten years after high school! “ He pauses, and then adds: “What many members of the national science community don’t realize is that people live their lives differently because of what they believe about the world.”

Doran holds a Bachelors degree in Geology, two Master’s degrees (History of Science – Evolutionary Thought; and Geology), and a Ph.D. in Geology with a focus on paleontology. He intends to teach Biology at Patrick Henry as a cross-discipline, combining science and philosophy, an approach he feels much science education lacks – and suffers from.

“It’s easy for scientists to get locked into their own box and forget that a generation ago the scientific establishment was talking about ‘facts’ that are already obsolete,” he says. At this, his eyes shine, revealing his passion for research. “The thrill of scholarship is that you can go look at the data for yourself, and then you find things you don’t expect to see.”

Doran’s current research projects include a statistical analysis of fossils that has led to invitations to present his data at high-profile, secular scientific conventions, as well as a potentially controversial study of Florida’s fast-disappearing freshwater springs and wells. He intends to pursue an aggressive research agenda at PHC and continue to present projects of interest to the entire scientific community.

When he is not studying or teaching science, Doran enjoys a friendly game of chess, and hopes to strike up some matches with students.

“It’s much better for you than videogames,” he says. “It improves your mind, and you can get a national ranking.”

Settling into a new life in northern Virginia with his wife, Nicole, and two preschool daughters, Doran eagerly anticipates partaking in the cultural opportunities available from living an hour west of D.C. -- especially concerts. His wife is an accomplished bassoonist who studied under William Winstead at the University of Cincinnati.

Marveling at the journey that led his family to Purcellville, Doran happily observes, “One year before I had even a hint I might wind up in this area, Nicole and I were imagining our ideal place to live. My criteria was for all the technical and scientific opportunities, hers for the musical and cultural. The one city that best matched both our interests was Washington, DC!”

Patrick Henry College is pleased to welcome Dr. Doran, his family, and the talents he brings to the PHC community.