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John Garcia (born June 12, 1917) is an American psychologist, most known for his research on taste aversion learning. Garcia studied at the University of California-Berkeley, where he received his A.B., M.A., and Ph.D. degrees in 1955 at the age of 38. He was appointed Professor Emeritus at Los Angeles' University of California, though he at other points has also been an Assistant Professor at California State College, a Lecturer in the Department of Surgery at Harvard Medical School, Professor and Chairman of the Psychology Department at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, and Professor of Psychology at the University of Utah.
Garcia lived with his parents on their farm. By age 20, he was working as a mechanic making 18-wheeler trucks. A few years later he solved the problem of installing mufflers onto submarines and consequently became a ship fitter. During World War II he joined the United States Army Air Corps and became a pilot; after persistent nausea he could no longer fly and he finished his term as an intelligence specialist. When demobilized, he used the G.I. Bill to pay for his college tuition. He attended Santa Rosa Junior College were he achieved a bachelor’s degree. He then attended the University of California at Berkeley where he achieved a master’s degree and Ph.D.
Garcia's first postdoctoral job was with the U.S. Naval Radiological Defense Lab in San Francisco, California in 1955. He began to study the reaction of the brain to ionizing radiation in a series of experiments on laboratory animals, mainly rats. Garcia noticed that rats avoided drinking water from plastic bottles when in radiation chambers. He suspected that the rats associated the “plastic tasting” water with the sickness that radiation triggers.