Home Biologist The Offspring’s Dexter Holland among rare crowd: Rock and pop stars with PhDs

The Offspring’s Dexter Holland among rare crowd: Rock and pop stars with PhDs


On the road to becoming the frontman of one of California’s most famous punk bands, Dexter Holland dreamed of becoming a doctor.

“I went into college as a biology major — premeditated — and was chasing the band as well,” said Holland, vocalist and guitarist for The Offspring. Right last month. “I found myself more absorbed in the group than even in the school.”

Although he did not enter medical school, he received an offer from his alma mater, the University of Southern California, to continue as a graduate student. And graduate school offered him enough flexibility to continue playing gigs.

“It allowed me to juggle both,” Holland said. “I really like molecular biology and virology. It was something I enjoyed.”

When the offspring took off, Holland put his studies on hold, but never lost the desire to continue to advance his studies. In 2017, he obtained his doctorate.

Tonight (August 13), Holland, Kevin “Noodles” Wasserman and other members of The Offspring will be on stage at the Ambleside Music Festival, headlining night two of the three-day event in West Vancouver. Expect them to perform the title track from their latest album, Let the bad times roll.

Video for The Offspring – Let The Bad Times Roll (official music video)

Video: “Let the Bad Times Roll” by The Offspring.

As a graduate student, Holland specialized in identifying microRNA-like sequences in HIV.

“Obviously we studied messenger RNA and all that kind of stuff in school,” Holland said, adding that vaccination is a field in itself.

“I think maybe one of the things that people forget, even 100 years ago I think the leading cause of death was infectious diseases. You don’t think about that now.”

In Canada from 2016 to 2020, the top three causes of death were “malignant neoplasms” [i.e. cancer]heart disease and accidents.

Other rock and pop musicians with PhDs include Queen guitarist and astrophysicist Brian May, Bad Religion lead singer and evolutionary biologist Greg Graffin, former Descendants research molecular biologist Milo Aukerman and former Yes and King Crimson drummer and music researcher Bill Bruford.