GNAC FAR Spotlight: Simon Fraser's Peter Ruben
Peter Ruben has been a professor at Simon Fraser for 13 years and enjoys exploring the mountains and skiing.
Peter Ruben has been a professor at Simon Fraser for 13 years and enjoys exploring the mountains and skiing.
Peter Ruben
Peter Ruben

Friday, May 31, 2019

Part of a regular series.

Throughout the year, uses this space to profile conference student-athletes, coaches, and administrators. Collectively, it is these individuals who make the GNAC one of the top NCAA Division II athletic conferences in the nation.

Name: Peter Ruben
Institution: Simon Fraser University
Title: Professor
Years at Institution: 13
Hometown: Santa Monica, California

Colleges Attended:  Antioch College, Yellow Springs, Ohio; University of North Wales, Bangor, Wales; George Washington University, Washington, D.C. (B.A. & M.S.); McGill University, Montreal, Que.; University of Calgary, Alta. (Ph.D.); Stanford University, Palo Alto, Calif. (postdoctoral).

Research Area: Our research focuses on a protein that’s responsible for the electrical activity in nerves and muscles. This protein, called the voltage-gated sodium channel, allows muscles to contract, hearts to beat, and our nervous systems to convey information from our extremities to our brain and back again. Sometimes the genes that encode the sodium channel have a mistake - a mutation - and that can cause disease. Certain kinds of epilepsy, cardiac arrhythmias or movement disorders are caused by such mutations. We try to understand how mutations in sodium channel genes cause disease and how drugs work to alleviate their symptoms. 

Why Did You Decide To Become A Faculty Athletic Representative: I was chair of the Department of Biomedical Physiology and Kinesiology. With a major offered in kinesiology, we have a large number of student-athletes in our classes. The athletic director at the time was a particularly charming fellow who I liked and who convinced me to become FAR. Prior to that, I had not even heard of the position, so it was not something I sought out.

Who Has Influenced You The Most As A Professional - Either As An Inspiration, A Mentor, Or Philosophically: I have had wonderful mentors. Dr. Stuart Thompson (Stanford University), my postdoctoral supervisor, was the greatest of them. He influenced my science and my philosophical outlook, both as the scientist and as the supervisor I was to become. Dr. Francisco (Pancho) Bezanilla (University of Chicago) was an inspiration for the science I do and the gentlemanly way I try to do it. I have been influenced by many writers - John McPhee, David Duncan, Tom Robbins. I have been influenced by my closest friends, particularly Jeff Goldberg with whom I survived graduate school and who influenced me as an academic administrator.

Favorite Part Of Your Job: Interacting with students. Making new discoveries.

What Does Division II Mean To You: The ideal balance of academic and athletic pursuits.

Extracurricular Activities: Outdoors activities. Walking my two dogs, mountain biking, skiing, rock climbing, surfing, fly fishing. Also reading, gardening, enjoying a good IPA. 

Best Advice You’d Give To Student-Athletes: Love what you do and do what you love. Remember that your athletic career will be outlived by your professional career. Get as much sleep as you can. Manage your time wisely. Seek help when you need it. Don't be shy about seeking help when you need it. 

If You Could Spend The Day With One Person (Past Or Present), Who Would It Be (And Why): My father, who passed away far too young. 

Favorite Sports Team: San Francisco Giants.

Favorite Athlete: Muhammad Ali.

Most Memorable FAR Moment: The times I convince instructors to allow accommodations for missed classes or exams.