Reflection of Prof. Anthony T. Tu’s Life
by Anthony T. Tu
I feel that I have been very lucky throughout my life. One cannot predict how one’s life will go; everything is determined by random distribution of fate. Some people are very lucky and some are extremely miserable, and most people’s fates lie between these two extremes.
In my teenage days, I was in the middle of fierce fighting between the US and Japan, and Taiwan was heavily bombed by the US. Yet I survived. In the 2/28/1947 riot, I was shot at by machine guns at a distance of 60 feet. Two people on both sides of me were killed instantaneously with blood flying from their bodies. My life lay between two bullets of a machine gun. During Chang Kai-shek’s dictatorship, anyone who opposed him would be killed. I also survived this terrorizing period.
I received a good education through Japanese colonial days, during the Chinese rule, and later in the US. I received my Ph.D. from Stanford, one of the top universities in the US. During my time at Stanford (1956-1961), Stanford’s student newspaper ran the headline Stanford Rated as No. 10 in the Nation. If I were to apply to Stanford now, I probably would not be admitted at all. I feel I am very lucky to get the highest degree from Stanford.
In 1962，I got an academic position at Utah State University. President Chase of the University always made a speech at general faculty meetings saying “Utah State University is a great University; we are considered number 100 in the US.” I was in the 100th University in the US, but I started my independent research by obtaining major grants and contracts from the NIH, FDA, and ONR. After I moved to Colorado State University,
I continued to get good funding for my research and was able to continue researching. I published 273 technical papers, 17 books in the US, UK, and India, and 18 other books in Japan.
I am blessed with five children who all became financially independent as soon as they graduated from their colleges. I am also enjoying my four lovely grandchildren.
After my retirement, I was invited to become a professor in Japan and have been invited to give lectures in various countries. Because I go overseas for lectures 8-10 times a year, I am almost busier than I was before my retirement. People respect me and treat me well every time I give a lecture. Ever since I was born, I have lived comfortably. Although I am not rich, I really don’t worry about my finances much.
Throughout my life I have done what I liked in teaching, research, outside lecturing and traveling, so I don’t have any complaints about my life. My life is like nomadic walking wherever and whenever I want to do or go.
Thafs why I feel like I am a lucky man, enjoying my satisfying life.
One thing I did want was to own a piece of land. The US is a country of vast stretches of land, and I wanted to share a piece of this land. So I was very happy to buy several pieces of farmland and a forest. I enjoy visiting these properties from time to time.
I wish I had more leisure time to visit my forest and farm lands. Once I have more time, I would like to drive around and visit different parts of the US and Canada.
I feel that I am a very lucky person because my life has been smooth and comfortable, but sometimes I feel funny about my fate.
For instance, I never lived in Japan but I have very strong relations with Japan now. I visit there many times every year. On two occasions, I organized conferences in Choshi, Japan. I was nominally the Chairman of the Organization Committee, so I gave the welcoming speech to the audience. “Welcome to Choshi，Japan!” I said. “As the chairman of the symposium, I welcome you to attend this conference and hope you enjoy your stay in Japan.” However, I had just arrived two days before the conference so I felt that I too should be welcomed to Japan. I am not even Japanese, but I welcomed foreign scientists who came to attend the conference.
Throughout my whole life, I spent all of my energy, resources, and time on the research of animal toxins. Due to the rapid progress of modern science, many of my life’s works have probably become obsolete or not significant anymore. At least I feel I did my best and produced the best scientific achievements at the time of my work. Therefore, I have no regrets about my work.
I wish to spend the rest of my life peacefully and enjoy the life that remains to me.
I sincerely thank my parents, my wife, and my family for their support. Without their help and sacrifices, I could not have reached the place I am today.
A picture of me on my 160-acre farmland. This is CRP (Conservation Reserve Program) land so it is not allowed to be used for crops.
My other 160-acre farmland. From the surface of the land we get wheat and from underneath it we get natural gas and oil.
Source from Nomadic Academic Life of a Professor, 2009
Posted in 07/2017