Lynn Riddiford, a professor of zoology of the University of Washington, exemplifies how to keep your spirit alive and your research fresh--and, perhaps, your funding rolling in. Delving deeper and deeper into the mysteries of the hormone ecdysone, which controls the molting process of the tobacco hornworm, Riddiford has progressed from whole-insect work, through work with cell cultures, all the way to the molecular biology level.

One of the ways she learned these new skills was in sabbatical years. In fact, using sabbaticals creatively has been a special talent of Riddiford's.

"My first sabbatical was at Harvard" in 1971, she recalls, noting that while there, she "visited a couple labs and learned new techniques."

In 1979-80, Riddiford went to Stanford University "to learn molecular biology. That was just in the beginning days of recombinant DNA research.

"My next sabbatical, in 1986-87, I went to Cambridge, England, working on Drosophila to...

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