Aaron J. Hicks
Phoenix, Arizona

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We tease AJ that he is the mad scientist of the email discussion list. We know that he can be counted on to make complicated topics involving the sciences more understandable for the rest of us. His postings are also sprinkled with humor and we look forward to them.

I started growing hardy water lilies at the age of 11 or 12 and never really let go. Unfortunately, after moving to the desert, growing lilies became a lot harder, and I've taken a hiatus for the most part -- but Victorias always interested me. Thanks to the generosity of people on the web, I've had renewed interest in growing them. This year (2003), we only have one, but we have an excellent location for it -- the Phoenix Zoo, replete with large volumes of water.

I have a degree in Geology and am a repeat graduate school dropout. I've spent time in various jobs, including working at the post office, counting birds on radar in Montana, making explosives, and lifeguarding. Hobbies such as rescue and firefighting have largely gone by the wayside, thanks to living in the city where volunteers are no longer needed.

While not otherwise engaged in fretting with the sole Victoria, I am busy at Arizona State University, where I work as a tissue culture specialist, and with my home lab where I grow ~125,000 orchids. I like to grow exotics of all sorts -- the stranger the better -- endangered orchids in particular.

The addiction with orchids began at the age of 12. I was introduced to them by my brother-in-law and sister while they were living in Maryland. The addiction quickly grew and lay dormant (but not extinguished) for several years through college and some graduate school. It was rekindled with an introduction to the Internet in 1994.

My interest in water gardening is difficult to pursue due to the hot, dry climate of Phoenix. I dream of returning to a more temperate climate where hardy water lilies and ponds are easier to tend.

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