From meeting Princess Diana to identifying the genes of a “buttless” chicken
Ask biological sciences professor Susan Chapman about London, and she will tell you all sorts of stories. From meeting Princess Diana in a department store to socializing in British pubs to witnessing movie premieres, Chapman is steeped in anglophilic experiences.
Ask her about the monarchy, and she will tell you all about who is likely next in line for the throne, the duties of the current queen and how the British honor system works.
“It’s cool to live in a country with royalty,” she said.
One has to wonder how she ended up in South Carolina.
Chapman was born in South Africa, and she moved to London in 1995 for university study. “Sometimes you end up more British than the British,” she said. “You don’t take it for granted.”
She then traveled to the United States in 2002 for postdoctoral study at the University of Utah and moved to South Carolina in 2007 to teach at Clemson. Chapman’s love of travel also took her to Italy, France, Germany, Belgium, Netherlands, most of sub-equatorial Africa and various states throughout the continental U.S.
Today, Chapman visits London twice a year to see her parents, and most of her additional traveling is for scientific conferences, to which she always tries to take a student.
“It’s important to experience different cultures. Everything is different: the food, the politics, the language, the religion,” she said. “It opens your eyes to different ways of thinking.”
Chapman encourages any student she meets to study abroad, often suggesting Europe for its familiarity and decreased language barrier for American students.
“Almost everyone at least speaks English as a second language in Europe,” she said. “So even if you just know a smattering of the native language, you should be able to get by.”
Except for France, she jokingly added. “The French speak English; they just don’t like to.”
Chapman’s excited about continuing her travel experiences with upcoming conferences to Japan and Mexico, neither of which she has ever visited.
“They had a conference in Cancun the year I moved to Clemson, and I missed it. Missed it!” she said. “But I will get there this time.”
Chapman would be happy to talk all day, but eventually she has to get back to her lab work. Ask her, and she’ll tell you about the genes she and her team are working to identify in a “buttless” chicken, which is missing the posterior bones in its spine and tail feathers.
“It’s cool,” she said. “It’s very cool.”
Chapman is full of stories and experiences. To hear them, all one has to do is ask.