UF professor to be ‘Jeopardy!’ contestant

Published: March 5th, 2013

Category: InsideUF, Top Stories

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Jane Yellowlees Douglas has an eclectic resume. The University of Florida professor has done work with almost every college in the university and has published research in at least a dozen separate disciplines.

“It’s easier for me to think of a college I haven’t worked with than to think of all the ones I have,” Douglas said. And now Douglas can add “Jeopardy!” contestant to her extensive list of experience. She will appear on the show Friday.

Now an associate professor of management communication in the Warrington College of Business Administration and member of the Clinical and Translational Science Institute, Douglas never thought much about the TV game show. She recalls only that it was on in the background when she would go to get her hair braided, a process that can take hours and gave her plenty of time to observe the show.

“I would scream out the answers impatiently when contestants didn’t know them,” Douglas said. Soon people were urging her to go on the show.

When she became aware that she could take the qualifying test online, she finally went for it. “I figured things were so improbable that if I pulled this off it would just be amusing to me,” she said.

As it turned out, her score qualified her and she was asked to fly to New York for an audition. The show did not cover expenses, but she happened to be staying with a friend there at the time. Perfect, she thought, until she wound up horribly ill the night before the audition.

Her friends urged her to postpone, but doing so though would mean she would have to retake the qualifying test.

“ I’ve been through way worse,” she said. Douglas has a number of genetic disorders and even contracted a hemorrhagic virus while doing consulting work in West Africa but has never let any of it stand in the way of her work.

Douglas made it to the audition and managed to have a good time, spending much of her time joking with producers and host Alex Trebek.

The greatest challenge for Douglas was buzzing in answers. Douglas has a triphalangeal thumb, meaning that she lacks an opposable thumb. This presented a challenge because it made signaling really difficult, but she managed to get the hang of it eventually, she said.

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Jenna Mescon

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