Marian Diamond

It’s not news that Marian Diamond — who at 84 may be Berkeley’s oldest actively teaching professor — carries a brain around in a hatbox. (A brain, not her brain. She’s a world-renowned authority on that organ of the human and other bodies.) But the San Francisco Chronicle put her on the front page of its December 5 edition anyway, in a profile anchored in the fact that her introductory anatomy lecture (Integrative Biology 131), has been accessed nearly a half-million times (the total for her 39-lecture series is approaching 1.5 million views), making it, since its online debut in 2005, the most-viewed video on UC’s YouTube channel, a basic fact that was also reported earlier, and nationally. Diamond, a three-degree Berkeley alumna (B.A. ’48, M.A. ’49, Ph.D. ’53) as well as a neuroanatomy professor,  is always lively, colorful, and quotable  — good copy, as they say in the news biz, and worth a read. The Chronicle article even supplies the origin of the hatbox she uses to transport her teaching prop, an actual alcohol-preserved human brain.

Not in the Chronicle piece, but of possible interest to this audience, is the fact that Diamond earned her way through grad school as a teaching assistant (what we now call GSI). In a memoir, she asked herself the rhetorical question, “How did I ever know I could teach?”  Her answer was, “The first time a medical student asked me a question and I knew the answer, I felt a deep, warm glow of satisfaction radiate through my body. This is where I belong.”