My name is Thomas, I am from Simi Valley California, and am the right researcher for you! I first realized I would have a career in sciences when I was in grammar school. I won the sixth grade science fair (cliche, right?) and went on to get presidential recognition for my little project. I have always enjoyed school. I was one of the weird kids who wanted summer to end so school could start, and so I knew that one day I would attend college. There was only one problem. My parents did not have the money to put me through and I did not qualify for any substantial scholarships. And so, before was able to go to college, my life took a detour into the US Navy. I was a nuclear reactor operator (for power plants, not bombs) and an electronics technician for four years, but before I could finish my enlistment I broke my back. After my surgery and recovery I was discharged, and I returned to California. I used my GI bill to pay for the college education I had sought after for so long. Unfortunately, my elation did not last long. While I was attending my first semester, my mother passed away after a long war with cancer. I knew she wouldn't want her death to affect my studies, and so I didn't let it. I tried even harder. Was it difficult to power past the emotions I should have been facing? Yes. Was it unhealthy to bottle up my feelings? Maybe... ask my therapist. But ultimately her passing gave me a goal and something to work for. I wanted to make her proud, and I hope she is.