I sometimes tell students that I first came to university in the Autumn of 1977 and liked it so much that I've never left. I was an undergraduate in cold, snowy Chicago, where I got my first degree from Northwestern University's then-experimental Integrated Science Program, an interdisciplinary project that aimed to train people for such hybrid disciplines such as geophysics, neurobiology and biochemistry. After four years in the upper midwest I (and most of my friends) decided to go to grad school in sunny California: I ended up in Pasadena, studying physics at CalTech. After various false starts involving, for example, magnetoreception and the neurobiology of sensory transduction, I wrote a thesis about dynamical systems under the supervision of Anatole Katok.
In September 1989 I moved to the UK for what I imagined to be a three-year postdoc working with Robert MacKay at the University of Warwick and Dave Broomhead, at what was then the Royal Signals and Radar Establishment in Great Malvern. Six years later Dave moved to UMIST in cool, rainy Manchester and I followed, working first as a postdoc and, after January 1999, as a Lecturer. Initially I had a joint appointment split between the Departments of Mathematics and Optometry, but when UMIST merged into the new University of Manchester I became a full-time member of the new School of Mathematics.