STARKVILLE, Miss.--In a new novel titled "Living Memories," Mississippi State University entomologist Jerome Goddard explores traumatic memories and the implications of science run amok.
Published by Livingston Press, the book follows Gregory "Dex" Poindexter, a neuroscientist conducting research on traumatic memories as he looks for ways to treat or heal them. Under the guise of approved research, Poindexter discovers that memories may be copied and spread from person to person like viruses, implanting secret thoughts into their brains.
An extension service professor in the biochemistry, molecular biology, entomology, and plant pathology department, Goddard said he got the idea for the novel while thinking about prions.
Prions are abnormal, pathogenic agents responsible for diseases such as Creutzfeldt - Jakob disease in humans and bovine spongiform encephalopathy, also known as mad cow disease.
"Something doesn't have to be alive to be selected for survival," said Goddard, former state medical entomologist at the Mississippi Department of Health.
"Sometimes people with certain traumatic memories begin to act out those memories," he continued. "So I thought, 'What if that's the memory reproducing itself like a prion or a virus?'"
Aside from the study of the power of memory, "Living Memory" also delves into the ethics of scientific research.
"Just because you can do something doesn't necessarily mean you should," Goddard observed.
His wife, Rosella, helped plot the novel and also is credited as an author.
"My wife is really good at developing twisty plot points," he said. "It was fun to write this novel. Fiction is great because you can write whatever you want."
Goddard is a former Booneville resident who holds bachelor's and master's degrees in biological science from the University of Mississippi and a medical entomology doctorate from MSU. While ecology and epidemiology of tick-borne diseases are his primary research areas, he also has written extensively on a wide range of medically important arthropods. During 20 years in Jackson as state medical entomologist, he also held appointments as a clinical assistant professor of preventive medicine and assistant professor of medicine at the UM School of Medicine.
Over his professional career, Goddard has been invited to appear on Comedy Central Network's "The Colbert Report" and the Learning Channel, and has been featured in Reader's Digest.
He frequently leads national and international seminars and other programs on arthropods, medicine and related topics. For additional biographical information, visit library.msstate.edu/msuauthors/jg54/.