Larry "Harris" Taylor, a biochemist and senior research associate at the University of Michigan School of Medicine, is truly a diving scholar. He is currently part of a basic medical research team that is trying to understand how antipsychotic and narcotic drugs affect the mind. Combining his affinity for scuba diving and academia, Dr. Taylor, who prefers to be called "Harris," has compiled a diving library that is considered by many to be one of the best recreational diving information resources in North America, including many first editions and autographed copies, over 500 scuba videos, 38 current dive magazine subscriptions,and a vast assortment of CD-ROMS and computer programs.
Harris's collection and remarkable "information-gathering capacity" are routinely used by authors, training agencies, attorneys and DAN as a resource tool; and the bibliographies he has compiled based on this library have been circulated worldwide via the Internet. Harris is also a diving author with more than 100 publications to his credit. His writing has earned him numerous awards including the NAUI Distinguished and Continuing Service Awards, the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sport Designation as a National Master Instructor, and numerous certificates of appreciation.
Harris, an intense and self admitted workaholic, is also a computer whiz. He spends up to 18 hours a day on computers, both for work and as a hobby At the University of Michigan biochemical research lab, Harris uses a $40,000 state-of-the-art computer to create three-dimensional representations of biologically important molecules. He is also actively involved in bringing reliable information to the online world. His input has earned Genie (which recently moved to Delphi) a reputation for one of the friendliest online scuba bulletin boards.
Although he is a diving instructor, Harris did not actually learn to dive until he was 30, and he did so as a means of overcoming his childhood fear of water. "One of the greatest rewards I derive from training divers," Harris relates, "is to watch new students progress from initial apprehension to the comfort zone, because I can personally relate to what they experience." Throughout his diving career, Harris has been strongly influenced by several diving legends - primarily his University of Michigan mentor and friend, Dr. Lee Somers. Other role models include Dan Orr, DAN's Director of Operations, and author Lou Fead. "One of the first books I read as a young diver was Fead's "Easy Diver" Harris recalls. "I liked the 'dive with your brains, not your back' approach to diving and have tried to save my back ever since!"
When it comes to teaching scuba, Harris favors specialized, advanced-level programs for small groups. His rescue class, for example, consists of 40 hours of lecture and 20 hours of water work for a maximum class size of four people. He teaches DAN Oxygen Provider and Instructor classes by appointment and at the annual Our World-Underwater show in Chicago.
Harris has recently accepted an appointment to teach entry level scuba at the University of Michigan. Harris's students will tell you that he does not teach; rather he preaches the "Gospel According to Harris," which is that in all diving situations, the "knowledgeable, physically fit diver has more fun." And Harris himself practices what he preaches, having accumulated nearly 100 certifications - an array of almost every diving specialty imaginable, from Diver Medic, Ice Rescue, Scientific Diving, Hyperbaric Medicine, Marine Electronics, Full Cave Diver to Commercial Diving. When it comes to education, whichever side of the lectern he's on, Harris is a DAN diver who makes the grade with honors.
Copyright 1997 Alert Diver m The Magazine of Divers Alert Network
This article was first published in the March/April 1997 issue of Alert
Diver, the Magazine of Alert Divers Network (DAN).