STEAM Interview with Kirk Duffin

Jun 18, 2020 | Kids, News, STEAM Adventures

The Children’s Department warmly welcomes Professor Kirk Duffin to our online space!

Read on to find out about the life of a computer scientist and his love of reading. At the end of the interview there are links to all of Professor Duffin’s childhood favorites!

What is your name?

Kirk Duffin

What is your job title and where do you work?

Associate Professor of Computer Science, NIU.

What do you do for a living?

I teach people how to program computers. I also try to discover new things that computers can do.

If someone is interested in your line of work, what should they do to achieve their desired outcome? Is there a certain field of study or certain experiences that they should strive for?

Study a bit of everything, but especially math. Learn how to write well.

With regards to your work, what is the most amazing or exciting thing you have ever discovered, learned, or created?

One of my favorites is when I created a program to rotate 5-dimensional objects on a computer screen in a way that had never been done before.

What are your hobbies? Do you like comic books, manga, music, scifi? Sewing or art? Tell us what you like!

I like to write computer programs. I like to play the piano. I like to study languages. I love to read, mostly science fiction and anything my family brings home (fantasy, graphic novels, mysteries, historical fiction, etc.)

Tell us something fun about yourself! A silly story, a fun thing you have done, or something you are proud of… what would you like the children and families of DeKalb to know?

I once created a rap version of a Sandra Boynton board book, But Not the Hippopotamus.

Do you have a favorite section in the library to read or find books? What is your favorite memory of time spent in the library?

I’ve lost many an hour just pulling a book of fiction from the stacks and finding a quiet corner to read.

Please list your favorite book (or books!) from when you were a child. Why did you love this book so much and how old were you when you read it?

So many to choose from… I liked L. Frank Baum’s 14 volume Oz series, Eleanor Cameron’s Mushroom Planet series, Louis Slobodkin’s Spaceship series, Tom Swift, The Three Investigators, and Isaac Asimov’s Lucky Starr series. All of these had the ability to transport me to richly imagined places with interesting ideas. I owned three books from TimeLife’s Science and Nature Libraries on Matter, Mathematics, and The Universe (which I won as a prize from a library summer reading contest). But my favorite was the World Book Encyclopedia, which I started reading in first grade. It had rich diagrams and images, and something more to learn on anything that caught my fancy.

What genre do you like to read now that you are an adult? Do you have a favorite author?

I like science fiction, science exposition, and technical textbooks or reference books. Through my wife, I’ve come to appreciate cozy mysteries, and my children have helped me develop an enjoyment for young adult graphic novel series.

If families wanted to see the work that you have done or read a book or research paper that you have written, where would they go to view your work?  

Here is a list of publications:

Thank you, Professor Duffin for sharing your thoughts with us!

If you would like to read some of Professor Duffin’s childhood favorites, please follow the links below which will take you directly to the books you seek:

The Oz Books, written by Frank L. Baum can be found on: Hoopla as ebooks and audiobooks OMNI Overdrive as ebooks The first three only are available on RBDigital as audiobooks. And finally, physical copies can be ordered for pickup from the DeKalb Public Library. Check this list to see what we have! The order of publication:

  1. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, (1900),
  2. The Marvelous Land of Oz, (1904),
  3. Ozma of Oz, (1907),
  4. Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz, (1908),
  5. The Road to Oz, (1909),
  6. The Emerald City of Oz, (1910),
  7. The Patchwork Girl of Oz, (1913),
  8. Tik-Tok of Oz, (1914),
  9. The Scarecrow of Oz, (1915),
  10. Rinkitink in Oz, (1916),
  11. The Lost Princess of Oz, (1917),
  12. The Tin Woodman of Oz, (1918),
  13. The Magic of Oz, (1919),
  14. Glinda of Oz, (1920)

The Mushroom Planet books by Eleanor Cameron were written in this order:

  1. The Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet (1954)
  2. Stowaway to the Mushroom Planet (1956)
  3. Mr. Bass’s Planetoid (1958)
  4. A Mystery for Mr. Bass (1960)
  5. Jewels from the Moon and the Meteor That Couldn’t Stay (1964)
  6. Time and Mr. Bass (1967)

The first two books in the series can be picked up from the DeKalb Public Library.

Tom Swift is a name that spans multiple authors and six different series… too numerous to list here. The DeKalb Library carries four physical books. OMNI Overdrive has an ebook version of Tom Swift and the Electronic Hydrolung. Hoopla has the most choice, with an abundance of ebooks and several audiobooks. Alfred Hitchcock and the Three Investigators is a series of 43 books. Unfortunately, the DeKalb Public Library does not carry these titles, but check back here once inter-library loan resumes, and we can get them for you! Isaac Asimov wrote the following Starr books, begining with David Starr and moving on to Lucky Starr: David Starr, Space Ranger (1952) Lucky Starr and the Pirates of the Asteroids (1953) Lucky Starr and the Oceans of Venus (1954) Lucky Starr and the Big Sun of Mercury (1956) Lucky Starr and the Moons of Jupiter (1957) Lucky Starr and the Rings of Saturn (1958) Again, the DeKalb public library does not carry these items, but we will be happy to get them through inter-library loan once it resumes.



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