Dr Zebb Prime is a smart man with a smart name. A Research Associate at the University of Adelaide’s School of Mechanical Engineering, his current research centres on Linear Parameter Varying (LPV) control techniques for the robust control of a scramjet powered hypersonic vehicle, while he cites his current research interests as robust LPV control, embedded control, and “the production of nice looking documents”.
He meets my research interest of finding out more about people with great names from the people themselves. Thanks Zebb!
1) Is there a story (that you’ve been told) about where your name comes from?
My parents tell me that they liked the name ‘Zeb’ from an old Western. I think (but aren’t sure that) it was the character Zeb Macahan in the TV show ‘How the West Was Won’. I haven’t seen the show myself.
2) What does your name mean to you? Do YOU think you have a great name?
I think I have a good name, and I value it as ‘my name’, but generally I don’t think I attribute any more meaning to it than anyone else does to their name.
3) Is it good or bad – or perhaps a bit of both – to have a distinctive name?
Having a distinctive (and unique) name can be a bit of a double-edged sword. It obviously makes being remembered easier (for better or worse), and it makes it easier to be found (especially these days on the internet).
4) Do you care what others think of your name? What reactions from others have you encountered over the years?
I generally receive positive reactions to my name, so it doesn’t really bother me what people think of my name, however I could easily imagine how it could bother someone if people were were more negative about their name.
Over the years, I’ve had quite a few funny reactions to my name. They usually fall into the ‘superhero name’ [Zebb Prime], ‘evil genius name’ [Dr Prime] or ‘transformer’ [Optimus Prime] varieties.
Once in my honours year, we had to submit a conference paper to an internal student conference as part of one of my subjects. My lecturer later told me that he thought the paper by “Prime and Stabile” was a joke paper, right up until we turned up to give our talk.
More recently, during some lecturing, I had a student tell me I could improve lectures by yelling at the end of each one “Autobots rollout!”
5) Do you have a favourite name you’ve come across over the years?
I’ve got quite a few friends (post-doctoral researchers and post-graduate students) whose names are quite funny with the doctor title, such as Dr Moreau (who has heard no end of island jokes), and the (hopefully) soon to be Dr Jones, who has given us a 1 week grace period of jokes once his PhD gets conferred.