Is That You, Bruce?
You'll never guess what Bruce Hammock did on Dec. 18.
First, a bit about Bruce Dupree Hammock. He's a distinguished professor of entomology at the University of California, Davis; he holds a joint appointment with the UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center; and he directs the campuswide Superfund Research Program, National Institutes of Health Biotechnology Training Program, and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) Combined Analytical Laboratory.
He’s an athlete who loves rock climbing and white-water rafting and hosts the annual Bruce Hammock Water Balloon Battle in front of Briggs Hall for his students, researchers and colleagues.
So, what did he do on Dec. 18? He embarked upon an acting career.
His first role?
Hammock grew a beard, donned his father's old ragged World War II clothes and worn-out shoes, and practiced looking like a corpse. He then drove to a secluded place in the high desert, near Mojave, to participate in the production on Dec. 18. (The details are top secret.)
“It was very interesting,” Hammock. “But my, the producers work hard. We were on the set at 5:30 a.m. We worked until dark, in weather well below freezing, with high winds blowing sand. The professional actors and actresses put in amazing performances under quite adverse conditions."
“They’re a very professional and fun group. I had never realized the complexity of filming a movie. I hope they pull off their vision.”
Hammock, who is a fellow of the Entomological Society of America, a member of the prestigious National Academy of Sciences, and the recipient of the 2001 UC Davis Faculty Research Lecture Award and the 2008 Distinguished Teaching Award for Graduate and Professional Teaching, doesn’t think his acting career is so established that he’ll be nominated for an Academy Award.
At least not soon.
And the beard? Will he shave?
Yes. The movie role is over.
His colleague, chemical ecologist Walter Leal, joked: “Just before he left, Bruce mentioned he was dressing to shoot a movie. I didn’t notice any difference; I thought he was taking off for another scientific meeting.”
Bruce Hammock: from distinguished professor to renowned scientist to skilled athlete to actor.
Bruce Hammock in his office in Briggs Hall, before he began his acting career. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)