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10 Questions with Dr. Jeffrey Kirsch, Executive director, Reuben H. Fleet Science Center

In the 25 years since Dr. Jeffrey Kirsch became executive director, the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center has quadrupled its membership and doubled its physical size. The Fleet’s education programs now reach 110,000 students per year.

Kirsch, who lives in La Jolla, has been involved with the production of 12 IMAX films and, in 2001, received IMAX’s Founders Award for major contributions to the arts and sciences of large format films. Kirsch is chairman of the Museum Film Network and holds leadership positions with the Association of Science-Technology Centers.

After earning his doctorate in aerospace engineering from University of Southern California and working 10 years in aerospace research, Kirsch followed his passion for science communications and worked nine years at KPBS Television, where he was responsible for science-oriented programming and documentaries.

Q: What brought you to La Jolla?

A great job as a research engineer in 1969 at a small think tank sort of company in Sorrento Valley brought me here. A good friend of mine recommended I take a look and we never looked back. The company was eventually absorbed by other entities, but many of the people are still in town and it’s always great to meet them.

Q: What makes La Jolla special to you?

The community, nearby beaches and UCSD.

Q: If you could snap your fingers and have it done, what might you add, subtract or improve in La Jolla?

I would love a single-screen movie theater on Girard Avenue (remember when?) and to have the Children’s Pool at La Jolla Cove formally recognized as a Seal Rookery.

Q: Who or what inspires you?

The universe.

Q: If you hosted a dinner party for eight, who (living or deceased) would you invite?

My wife Joy, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Eleanor Roosevelt, Herbert and Sybil York, physicist Stephen Hawking, Marilyn Monroe, Woody Allen and physicist Richard Feynman. What a party that would be!

Q: What are you currently reading?

I am reading “The Swarm,” a science fiction book by Frank Schatzing, and “When the Crocodile Eats the Sun,” a non-fiction book about Zimbabwe by Peter Godwin.

Q: What is your most prized possession?

My photo collection.

Q: What do you do for fun?

Be with family, shoot and edit photographs, read, play with our dog Rollie, go to Petco Park for the occasional Padres victory and walk the Fleet Science Center floor.

Q: Describe your greatest accomplishment.

Finding my wife across a crowded party room at Princeton and my 25 years as head of the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center.

Q: What is your motto or philosophy in life?

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.