Gene Block is chancellor of UCLA, where he also holds faculty appointments in psychiatry and biobehavioral sciences in the David Geffen School of Medicine and in physiological science in the College of Letters and Science. Before participating in a panel on the role of universities in their cities, he sat down in the green room to talk about what he likes about a good rivalry, what he likes to read, and his last trip to Disneyland.
Q. What do you like most about a good rivalry?
A. The energy that goes into being successful-people trying their hardest, going beyond their normal limits.
Q. What’s the best book you read in 2011?
A. The one about the USC runner who was shot down during World War II and was captured by the Japanese, and the story of his survival: Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand. It’s a great book.
Q. If you could live in any time period, which would you choose?
A. The present-the changes that are occurring now are so dynamic and powerful. This for me is the ideal time to be alive.
Q. You research circadian rhythms. How many hours of sleep do you get a night?
A. Five to six. You’re supposed to sleep more-much more.
Q. When’s the last time you went to Disneyland?
A. Disneyland-1962. Disney World-probably the 1980s, with my children.
Q. If you were an undergraduate at UCLA today, what would you study?
A. If I had to do it again: engineering. Electrical engineering. It’s a great undergraduate major.
Q. What’s the best decision you’ve ever made?
A. Marrying my wife. And then coming to UCLA, which I’m really quite serious about.
Q. What do you wake up to?
A. An alarm clock.
Q. What’s the last thing you bought online?
A. A digital camera.
Q. What do you want to eat for your last meal?
A. A hamburger with cheese. Because that’s so terrible for you-it doesn’t matter anymore.
*Photo by Sarah Rivera.