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Bruce Lahn

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Bruce Lahn, 37
Geneticist/professor of human genetics at the University of Chicago
Lives in: Hyde Park
Backstory: Lahn’s parents were physicists persecuted by the Communist government. He was raised by his grandmother in Shucheng, China, because his mother and father were constantly on the move. “Chairman Mao said the intelligent class needed to be re-educated,” he recalls, “so my parents were displaced and made to work in coal mines and farms.” Lahn was a leader in the pro-democracy movement at Beijing University in 1987 and, one year later, fled China for the United States. He eventually continued his studies at Harvard College and MIT.
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What’s your necessary extravagance?
All kinds of good, ethnic food. I’m always looking for exotic restaurants and ethnic supermarkets to try.

Favorite TV show?

Favorite magazine?
Science and Nature.

Favorite Web site?

What CD is in heavy rotation right now?
“Get Rich or Die Tryin’,” by 50 Cent.

Item of clothing you wouldn’t be caught dead wearing?
It would be a tossup between a G-string and a tux.

Item of clothing you can’t throw away?
I have this Mao suit from my father. It’s from the Mao era and it’s decades old.

How do you order your steak?
Very rare.

What’s your drink?
Red wine, probably a merlot.

Use two words to describe yourself in high school.
“Class clown.”

When it comes to dates, what’s your secret weapon?
Talking about my past. People seem drawn to the weirdness of some of the life experiences I’ve had in China.

What song would you sing if you were forced to do karaoke?
“Country Roads,” by John Denver. It’s the first American song I learned when I was in China.


Deep dish or thin crust?
Thin crust.

Describe your exercise routine.
I either walk, jog, rollerblade, or ride my scooter to work and back. It’s about five blocks away. Periodically, I play soccer or tennis.

Favorite time of day?
If I’ve had a good night’s sleep: morning. But when I say morning, I mean around 11 o’clock.

Morning person or night owl?
Night owl.

How much do you tip?
It’s proportional. If the bill is small, between 20 and 25 percent. If the bill is large, 15 and 20 percent. I think that’s the right way to do it because, if I go to an expensive restaurant, the waiter can put in very little effort but the bill is $60 to $70 a person. If I go to a less expensive restaurant, the waiter might put in a lot of effort but the bill is much smaller.

Favorite bar in Chicago?
The Signature Room.

I own too many . . .
Pieces of clothing that I don’t want to wear.

What color is your bathroom?

Bad habit you wish you could break?
Talking with food in my mouth.

Ever been skinny-dipping?

I was living in Massachusetts. I was with a group of people. It was very dark and I don’t think anyone could see anything.

I could not date someone who . . .
Is a religious fanatic or not interested in, and curious about, the world.

Cubs or White Sox?
White Sox.

My idea of a perfect vacation is . . .
A trip into the most exotic place in Africa, maybe the Serengeti.

What’s on your nightstand right now?
A half-consumed bottle of water, an eye mask, and, I hate to admit, a bottle of sleeping pills. I’m not the best sleeper.

Last movie you LOVED?
Brokeback Mountain.

Favorite meal?
In Macau, a number of years ago. There were several dishes and it was extremely spicy and extremely hot outside. It was a great combination.

If you could have dinner with three living people, who would they be?
Bill Clinton, the pope, and Osama bin Laden. This is by no means an endorsement of bin Laden—it would just be an opportunity to satisfy my curiosity about him and see what he’s like.

What’s a fun fact about you?
I can imitate a horse like no other person I know.

Guilty pleasure?
Admiring beautiful women.

How much was your last haircut?
$25 plus $5 tip.

At which store would you max out your credit card?

I can’t stand people who . . .
Are religious fanatics.

What do you do when you’re bored?

If money were no object, I’d go back to school and become . . .
An economist. In retrospect, I think it would have helped me make an even bigger impact on this country and this world.

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