My experience in New Zealand and, to my surprise the UK, got me accustomed to the idea that professors and students operate on first name terms. That seems not to be so in the US; I find myself referring to close colleagues as Dr Cavener and Dr Marden when students are around, even though they are obviously Doug and Jim.
But what should I encourage the students on this course to call me? I opted for Andrew – science is about ideas, not hierarchy. I am happy to eat humble pie from anyone who knows better or has an interesting idea, no matter their pay grade. It was a privilege to learn that from John Maynard Smith. I did slightly worry that there might be title problems when the Dean joins the course, and I noticed that none of the students called our visiting Nobel Prize winner ‘Barry’, at least not without the ‘Marshall’ attached too (1, 2, 3, 4, 5). Perhaps they were right in that, and I should not have been so informal. But, hell, he is Australian.
Now I note that some of the SC200 students can deal with Andrew, but most can’t. Its Dr Read – or no name at all. Perhaps I should never have put them in a difficult position. I dunno. I still think its best to teach the true nature of science by example.