Who is Jeffrey Hatcher?

Dr. Jeffrey Lee Hatcher from Boxford, Massachusetts. aka Jeff Hatcher

Dr. Jeffrey Lee Hatcher developed severe epilepsy while a Ph.D. candidate at Columbia University.  Having previously had a couple of seizures after graduating from college, he knew that he was at risk, but he did not yet think of himself as a person with epilepsy.  More importantly, he gave no thought to the psychological or cognitive consequences of having the disease while planning out his life.  Soon enough, however, he would find himself in need of counsel, wisdom, and knowledge, which would ultimately prove difficult to find.

At a time that should have marked the halfway point of his formal studies, he regained consciousness in a hospital with only a fragmentary recall of the latest six months to a year of his life.  An hour – long string of seizures had disrupted his breathing to the point of minor brain damage.  He would eventually recover most of his faculties – enough to continue laboratory research and also research wildlife in East Africa.  However, these activities were to be a professional dead end.  Such might not have been the case were better counseling for life strategies available to people with epilepsy.  He still copes with memory issues 24 years after the event. 

Jeffrey Lee Hatcher at Maasai Mara in 1990 with Explore Mara, Ltd via a semester at St. Lawrence University.
Maasai Mara 1990

Aspiring to a career in biological and behavioral research, Jeffrey studied in Kenya on four separate occasions. He first went with St. Lawrence University in his final year of college. Cherished (albeit badly tarnished) memories recall doing field study with Michael Rainy’s Explore Mara, Ltd. An educational tour operator, Rainy led a small group of students, both American and Kenyan, as well as staff, in censusing large mammals in Central Province. While the Maasai Mara cannot be beat for excitement, Mpala Ranch, located along the Uaso Ngiro River at Laikipia, stood out as the place Hatcher found most enjoyable to be in a group of new friends.

Shortly after graduating from college, he made a second trip into East Africa to work at Kibale Forest in western Uganda, stopping in Kenya enroute to see old friends. At the remote but beautiful Ngogo field station, he took behavioral and census data on several groups of the monkey, the grey-cheeked mangabey on behalf of a British graduate student. Work days started shortly after sunrise and entailed following the tree – dwelling animals through woods of ancient strangler figs covered in philodendron vines while being mindful not to step on any columns of safari ants that might get underfoot. Failure to be vigilant often results in sustaining a goodly number of painful bites on the body’s lower half. It also inspires a man to remove his clothes to resolve numerous conflicts of interests. On days off, he tracked more friendly insects for photographic purposes. Kibale is blessed with a grand variety of butterflies and in very large numbers.

His third trip to East Africa was a brief summer internship done during the second year of graduate studies at Columbia (1995). Along with several fellow Columbia students, he became familiarized with the behavior and ecology of the subject of his eventual thesis research. The blue monkey, Cercopithecus mitis stuhlmanni , occurs in various forests throughout Kenya but is especially common in the Kakamega Forest. This trip would be the last one prior to his life – changing seizure event of 1997.

Kenya wildlife safari with Michael Rainey for St Lawrence University
Taking a break at the Mpala Ranch, along the Uaso Ngiro River in Laikipia in May of 1990. People from left to right are Michael Rainy, Michael’s friend and business partner, Pakuo, Jeffrey Hatcher, Julie Hoffman, John Nayioma, and Larale Lesorogol.

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Jeffrey Hatcher at Lentille Kenya 1990 with John Nayioma on safari with Michael Rainey
Relaxing with John Nayioma at Lentille, Kenya 1990

In a fourth trip to East Africa, he led a small group of workers studying blue monkeys. This final trip to Africa differed starkly from the others. It included a lot of time traveling from forest fragment to forest fragment in western Kenya. Each day brought a brand new landscape to grow familiar with. While competent with a compass and being close to his hired companions, the feeling of constant disorientation took a heavy psychological toll on his fondness for the exploration of wildlife habitat which he had had since childhood. This psychological transformation gives another example of how epilepsy manifests as a mental illness. It can just plain drain the spirit from a man in ways that have little connection to seizures.

Nineteenth century picture of a blue monkey (cercopithecus mitis) studied by Jeffrey Hatcher at Columbia University
This is an 1877 rendering of the blue monkey. Showing how little was known about Africa (or how careless naturalists could be), it is mislabeled as a ‘white nosed monkey’ – a separate species (currently called the red tailed monkey – Cercopithecus ascanius) which often associates with the former (from W. Bingley. 1877. The Animal Kingdom. Hubbard Bros. Philadelphia).
Professor Donald J. Melnick, Columbia University, with Jeffrey Hatcher
Donald J. Melnick with Jeffrey Hatcher at the Emperor Szechuan in Manhattan, 1999. Melnick was an evolutionary anthropologist and Hatcher’s co – faculty advisor in graduate school. He headed the genetics laboratory where Hatcher worked.

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Jeffrey Lee Hatcher at Cornell University graduation in 1990.  Ithaca, New York

Jeffrey did his B.A. in the Biology & Society major at Cornell University from 1986 to 1990.

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杰弗里-李-哈彻博士在哥伦比亚大学攻读博士学位时,患上了严重的癫痫病。 之前大学毕业后,他曾有过几次癫痫发作,他知道自己有风险,但他还没有把自己当成一个癫痫患者。 更重要的是,他在规划自己的人生时,并没有考虑到得了这个病会对心理和认知造成什么影响。 然而,很快他就会发现自己需要咨询、智慧和知识,而这些最终都会被证明是难以找到的。

在一个本应标志着他正式学习的半途而废的时候,他在医院里恢复了意识,只零碎地回忆起最近半年到一年的生活。 长达一个小时的一连串癫痫发作打乱了他的呼吸,以至于造成了轻微的脑损伤。 他最终会恢复大部分的官能–足以继续进行实验室研究,也可以在东非研究野生动物。 然而,这些活动将是一个专业的死胡同。 如果有更好的生活策略咨询提供给癫痫患者,这种情况可能不会发生。 在事件发生24年后,他仍然要应付记忆问题。

该翻译是通过计算机程序 “DeepL “完成的。

 Operating room.  From A text-book on surgery: general, operative, and mechanical. J.A. Wyeth, c1897

Operating room. From A text-book on surgery: general, operative, and mechanical. J.A. Wyeth, c1897 New York : Appleton

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