Overview: After - Post-Ph.D. and Post-Vedavid Activities
John Robert Gardner, Ph.D., NR-EMT

Academic Career Author Career Corporate Career Emergency Medicine Career Fire and me

After Vedavid and the Ph.D. were done, there came the "what next" that's inevitable in life. My professor, Fred Smith, often joked as do many Sanskritists: "once you learn Sanskrit, you can do anything." Sanskritists have varied careers to be sure, and while I may not be the best Sanskritist -- it sure did inform a varied path. After the degree I did a few things academically, then some as an author, then some in corporate, and now some as an Emergency Medical Technician.

Sanskrit has been instrumental in helping me understand how things - in this case specifically, languages - are put together. That's how the careers below were possible. Sanskrit is from the same root we get "karma" - literally, to make, or to do. "San" is a prefix--upasarga--that means "together" - in this sense, Sanskrit means "to put together."

This serves in place of a biopage as well, the old biopages are linked at left for site-history's sake. Buried on one of them is my Facebook, LinkedIn, and MySpace pages. Those "social" sites are behemoths enough without my further promoting them here. But if you want, you can find me there by clicking at left.

Academic Positions

During my dissertation work I was very lucky to work at a marvelous academic haven, the Obermann Center for Advanced Studies. There's not room to say enough good about it here, and I had the honor of being a Fellow there after my defense. If you contact them, tell Jay I sent you!

U. of Iowa ETD's

While I earnestly respect, and am grateful for, the University of Iowa Graduate College's support of my then-revolutionary idea of digital thesis research and eventual publication, I can't resist this story. My first post-Doc job was for the Graduate College initiating an electronic thesis and dissertation (ETD) program in 1998. I knew I'd have some battles - but this became amusingly clear as I went to review the proposed format with the thesis-checkers (the people that check your margins and stuff for paper theses) and walked into the room to find them trying to hold rulers up to the computer monitors to check width in the variable-width browser displays! The ETD project survived though!

Digital Library at Emory

After the ETD project, I got hired by an Emory University Libraries affiliate under a grant from the Lilly Foundation. It was a project to digitize (both scanned and text transcription) 50 years of 50 journals in theology, religion, ethics, and philosophy. I was the "XML Engineer" - learning US-MARC, Text Encoding Initiative, and Z39.50 for creating the XML format. The project was sub-contracted to the American Theological Libraries Association, ATLA. It was part of a division called the Center for Electronic Resources in Theology and Religion (ATLA-CERTR ... acronymic hell ...).

Book Author

Zarella Rendon and I wrote the first book on XSLT and XPath to include software, and the second book ever published on it. You can still get it (it's still selling for a 10 year-old book!). The book was published by Pearson, a Prentice-Hall Division, in 2000 and later translated into Chinese. The reviews of the book are interesting ... it's true that there is some disorder on the enclosed CD, and the coding error criticisms are related to that (over which we didn't get final editing control, by the way). But the text itself is solid good stuff.

Corporate Life

Sun Microsystems

From Emory University I was drafted to Sun in 1999. There is a great deal that can be said about those years, not least of which avoiding 9 layoffs before resigning. Sun had a remarkable way of fostering innovation (Java, XML, etc.) while, at the same time, flawlessly capable of euthanizing them with mis-(or non-)management. Their sale to Oracle was obvious for years before its advent. However, a highlight of that experience bears mention here ... building on the work I did on search, metadata, ontology, OWL, and RDF which gained me an invite to NASA. It was their Virtual Iron Bird project, to help avoid further accidents like the shuttle tragedies. See toward the end of Day 2.


I was later hired by Keane consulting, to rebuild Wall Street's Moody's Investor Service's web site. My part was to create an ontology for them (here's the link to new site we worked on, the ontology forms the drop-down menus). They were using Endeca for faceted browsing. Most interesting thing about it was that it was right before the whole mortgage crisis first began to break. And when we went to work on "Joint Default Analysis" - the data there was the most intractable. How ironic. If I'd known buying long or short or whatever, I'd have been a rich man. Sanskritists, after all, always get into the field for the money ...


From Keane, I took a job at Digitas as VP/Director of Content Management. That was the title under which I was hired to create an ontology for Walt Disney World. I used to joke that I went from Joint Default Analysis to Hoopte-do-Review. We made a facet browse system that didn't use Endeca, but rather used an OWL interface to Oracle for their booking and new celebrations site. The facets drive the pull-out and select narrowing menus. I've provided a link to the restaurants portion of the first Disney World project. They liked it so much, they asked us to continue on for their celebrations project. That Celebrations project is here and works the same way.

Emergency Medical Technician

Following academia, authoring, and corporate life, I finally earned the right to pursue my other passion to that of teaching: emergency medical services, EMS. I've been an EMT on Boston's North Shore for 6 years. I've just recently completed Paramedic school. I passed (!!) my Massachusetts State Practical Exam--I'd rather get 2 Ph.D.'s than go through that again--which I took on December 14, 2009. I was placed at the Boston Medical Center for my hospital clinical rotations. Fantastic staff there and it's no wonder residents from all over the country count themselves lucky for that residency--as did myself and my fellow paramedic interns there. Field Internship (ride time with paramedics to apply in the field what I've learned) is what's next at my home company, Cataldo Ambulance & Atlantic Ambulance. I have worked to help my fellow EMT's (from the Journal of EMS - great magazine, scroll down to 'Healthy Change") -- eating a good meal is hell on the job. For a funny view that reality that's all too true, click here. Oh, and about Sanskrit? Not until learning cardiology in paramedic school did I begin to truly and profoundly understand Bhagavad-gita 18.61, hRdese ... tiSThati: on the heart are all things based.

agni (Vedic for "fire"), prANa ("breath"), and me

I love to fire-breath. Always looking for folks to join me in doing so.

Comments are welcome - feel free to email me.