Our parents encouraged us to experiment, so we did rudimentary kitchen science at home. My mom was always interested in why things happened. That’s an aspect of science, trying to understand why something takes so long to cook, for example. Experimentation is the essence of scientific research; it is how we come to understand how things work. She also worked with me on understanding orbits in outer space and three-dimensional representations because I found those concepts difficult.
I took every math and science course that was offered all the way through high school. I took language courses and other subjects as well, but I really enjoyed the physical sciences and math. I always thought of math more as a tool than an end in itself, so I was never motivated to study math for its own sake. I always did well in those topics, and there was no question in my mind that I was going to go on to do something in some scientific area, although when I was in high school I thought it would be chemistry.