Alexsandr Mikhailovich Tischenko is a former world-class quantum physicist who currently resides in another universe, having been transported there by a trans-dimensional vortex and is now a centaur.
How's that for a resumé?
Alex is the son of scientists who fled the Soviet Union in the late 1950s. His parents made their way to California's Bay Area, where they were employed by UC Berekley and Lawrence Berkeley Laboratories (later Lawrence Livermore Labs). While his parents were Russian Jews, he grew up in a very American, secular household with his younger brother Ivan Mikhailovich (who likes to be called "Mike") and his baby sister Svetlana (better known as "Lana").
When Alex was nine, he delivered a severe beating to a neighborhood bully that was tormenting Lana. His father was initially angry with Alex for having used violence, but later admitted to being proud of his son for standing up for the weak and defenseless. This is a personality trait that Alex still exhibits, as he is likely to go riding off to the aid of those who can not defend themselves against aggressors.
Having earned his undergraduate degree at UC Berkley and his doctorate at Standford, Alex began doing post-doctoral work at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (better known as CERN) in Geneva. There, his work laid the foundation for research that eventually led to the Large Hadron Collider and the discovery of the Higgs Boson.
In 2002, he was recruited by the firm of Kurtzman, Davis, Elder and Wood in Cambridge, Massachusetts to work on the feasibility studies for a very secretive project for which the company was recruiting the finest minds in computing, energy and quantum mechanics. This project ended up being a potential revolution in transportation: a fully-operable matter teleporation system. Alex's breakthrough in negative energy and matter physics allowed the designers to sidestep the massive data storage and bandwidth problems endemic to cataloging and reproducing every particle of matter in an object by tunneling an Einstein-Rosen bridge to create a straighter-than-straight pathway for transport. It was this very discovery that led to Alex's being swept into an alternate dimension and transformed into a centaur.
Much to his chagrin, he finds himself marooned in his new home with his least favorite person in the world: Dr. Samantha Peterson, who headed up the Computing Services Department on the teleporter project. He and Samantha had been at loggerheads from Day One of the project, arguing over everything from the fundamental computational models to the color of close gadgets on the interface's main window.