Greg Graffin PhD and Smart Rock Stars

By , Contributor
Is there a doctor in the house? Bad Religion's Greg Graffin, who earned his PhD in zoology in 2007 from Cornell University, is eschewing the road during the week to teach evolution at his old alma mater this fall, in what is the first of three courses he's helping to develop for the Ivy League school.

For the past few years he has served as a lecturer in life sciences and paleontology at UCLA in Los Angeles, but teaching at Cornell is a much more prestigious. Graffin will hit the classroom beginning August 24 and will be collecting blue books on December 11. But don't think he's leaving the bright lights of punk veneration behind.

According to Graffin, he is team teaching with geneticist Richard Harrison and will only have to show up at the university on Tuesdays and Thursdays. "That leaves me plenty of time to head overseas on the weekends." Why overseas? Can't Bad Religious book shows in the Midwest?

In other Graffin news, he just had an ancient bird fossil named after him. In the current issue of Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society in London, a team of paleontologists discovered the bird fossil in the Gansu Providence of China and named it "Qiliania graffini" in honor of the brainy rocker.

So how is the singer taking the honor? Why not let him tell us: "I am so happy that they have given me the privilege of having an important fossil bird named in my honor. My love of birds now must pass to the Cretaceous and the wonderful finds from China that [the authors] are elucidating."

And yes, he really does talk that way.

Graffin isn't the only educated rock star (see below), and apparently there's a reason for that. New research conducted by Fred Travis, Maharishi University of Management in the U. S., Harald Harung from Oslo University College in Norway, and Yvonne Lagrosen, University West in Sweden, believe that musicians' brains are highly developed in a way that makes the musicians alert, interested in learning, disposed to see the whole picture, calm, and playful. The same traits have previously been found among world-class athletes, top-level managers, and individuals who practice transcendental meditation. 

Win and William Butler - The Arcade Fire

The two siblings attended the academically excellent Phillips Exeter boarding school before going on to university. Win studied at Sarah Lawrence and McGill (where former Blue Oyster Cult manager and produce Sandy Pearlman is a lecturer), while Will attended Northwestern College.

Andrew Bird

Bird graduated from Northwestern University with a degree in violin performance in 1996. And no, he didn't hang out with Will Butler.

Brian May PhD.jpgBrian May - Queen

One of the "100 greatest guitarists of all time," Brian May went back to school after 33 years to complete his course work, even unearthing his old handwritten notes. He is now the proud recipient of a PhD in astrophysics from Imperial College. He is currently the Chancellor of Liverpool John Moores University.

Milo Aukerman - Descendents

Milo Aukerman the singer from second wave punk progenitors the Descendents earned his PHD in biochemistry from the University of Wisconsin

Dexter Holland - Offspring

Offspring's Dexter Holland was valedictorian at Pacifica High School in Garden Grove California, and went on to get a bachelor's degree in biology, and was a Ph.D. candidate in molecular Biology from the University of Southern California, but put his research on hold to form Offspring. Later he returned to the University of Southern California, and earned his Master's Degree in molecular biology.

James Lilja - Offspring

Offspring's drummer James Lilja put his nose to the grindstone and got his medical degree. Dr Lilja practices gynecological oncology, obstetrics, and gynecology in Northern California.

Sterling Morrison - The Velvet Underground

Sterling Morrison, one of the founding members of the Velvet Underground, got his Ph.D in Medieval Literature from the University of Texas at Austin in the early '80s, but oddly left academia to be a tugboat captain, something that friends say led to his demise, due to the fumes from the boat.

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Jaan Uhelszki was one of the founding editors at Detroit’s legendary Creem magazine. Since that time, her work has appeared in USA Today, Uncut, Rolling Stone, Spin, NME, Relix, and Guitar World. She is the only journalist to have ever performed in full makeup with Kiss. Luckily she only had to put…

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