Browse Oral Histories Alphabetically

Philip Eaton's oral history covers his childhood, undergraduate career at Princeton, graduate work at Harvard, and his long career at the University of Chicago. In this interview he discusses teaching, consulting, and his work in organic chemistry. Eaton concludes the interview with a discussion on the future or scientific research, maintaining excellence in chemistry education and research, and thoughts on his wife, Phyllis.

Sidney Edelstein's oral history begins with his childhood in Tennessee and follows his life all the way through the formation and success of Dexter Chemical Corporation. In his interview he discusses the major world events he faced, discrimination because of religion, and his philanthropic work.

For more information on Michael Eisen, please visit the Pew Scholars in the Biomedical Sciences.

For more information on this oral history, please contact the Director of the Center for Oral History. 

Hubert Eleuterio's oral history describes his interest in science from an early age, and the events that led him to go to graduate school for Chemistry. He chronicles his long career at DuPont in Delaware, his work with the Atomic Energy Commission, and his activities after his retirement.

Charles L. Elkins witnessed the centralization of federal environmental regulation in the early 1970s, first as an Office of Management and Budget examiner and then in the newly created Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).  Within the new EPA, Elkins worked in the Office of Categorical Programs, where he was involved with the pre-Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Office of Toxic Substances and the Noise Abatement Program. Elkins became the director of the Office of Toxic Substances in 1986.  The biggest challenge he faced was TSCA’s lack of a coherent mandate; the program instead consisted of several distinct tasks, each beset with procedural impediments. Elkins laments the lack of involvement by environmental and public health advocates in the Office, limiting the pressure it could exert when negotiating with industry for more stringent voluntary measures.

Stephen J. Elledge was born in Paris, Illinois.  As a child, he played with chemistry kits, made rockets, and joined his high school chemistry team. He studied chemistry at the University of Illinois, the first of his family to attend college, then went to Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he worked in Graham Walker’s lab, combining molecular biology and genetics, and becoming interested in cloning. Stanford University offered him a postdoc in Ronald Davis’ lab, where he researched how cyclin-dependent kinases that run the cell cycle were regulated. Elledge accepted an assistant professorship at Baylor College of Medicine, where he still works today.  He has brought technological advances to genetics and discovered inhibitor molecules, especially the tumor suppressor p21, the first mammaliam inhibitor.

Andrew D. Ellington credits his love of science and research to many influential high school teachers, many of whom he still speaks with. He attended Michigan State University for biochemistry, where he worked tirelessly in the lab, often sleeping in classrooms or computer labs. In Steven Benner’s lab at Harvard he developed his Palimpsest Theory for Evolution based on his observations of RNA. Ellington accepted a postdoc at Harvard Medical School, studying Type 1 self-splicing introns and performed research on in vitro selection in Jack Szostak’s lab. His current research focuses on aptazymes—allosteric ribosomes that can be engineered to recognize almost any molecule. Ellington hopes to show that these can be used to recognize and subdue the HIV virus population of infected individuals.

E. Donald Elliott clerked for Judge Gerhard Gesell and Chief Judge David Bazelon, both of the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit; and served as General Counsel for the US Environmental Protection Agency. Elliott begins his interview by emphasizing that confidentiality about legal matters during his tenure at the EPA. He then discusses the beginnings of Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) and its relation to Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. He concentrates on concepts of risk and prevention, explaining their changing interplay over the years. He describes what he wishes the EPA’s role could be and what it is, decrying especially the “disaster” of the failure of the EPA to regulate asbestos.

Beverly M. Emerson was born in Eugene, Oregon, and attended the University of California, San Diego, where she discovered a love of science.  She worked in Donald Helinski’s and Peter Geiduschek’s labs; the latter became her mentor, and she continues to have a professional relationship with him. When she finished her PhD at Washington University in St. Louis, she decided to accept a postdoc in Gary Felsenfeld’s lab at the National Institutes of Health; there she began the transcription research that she has continued ever since. Beverly has her own lab now at the Salk Institute for Biological Sciences.

Douglas J. Epstein was born in Newfoundland, Canada. Though he found school uninspiring, he liked his high school science classes and spent his CÉGEP (Collège d’enseignement général et professionnel) year fascinated by tapeworms and the logic of their design. While at Concordia University, and later McGill, he discovered genetics. After spending several summers as an orderly at the Sir Mortimer B. Davis Jewish General Hospital, where his mother worked, he decided to pursue a PhD. During his graduate school career Epstein published eight papers, five as first author. Eventually he became an assistant professor of genetics at the University of Pennsylvania, where his research continues to find new ways in which hedgehog is crucial to neurogenesis; he believes that this work will provide a clearer understanding of diseases caused by alteration in gene function and expression.

Alber Eschenmoser begins his oral history with a discussion of his childhood and path to the field of organic chemistry.  He discusses his career and how ETH collaborated with Robert B. Woodward's Harvard research group on the B12 project, and in 1972 they announced the success of the vitamin B12 synthesis. Eschenmoser concludes the interview with a discussion of research funding, his professional recognition, and the ramifications of the vitamin B12 synthesis.

Diane Etchison earned her bachelor’s degree from University of California, San Diego. After graduation she worked in Donald Helinski’s lab. When her husband took a postdoctoral position at the University of Utah, Diane became a graduate student there, in the lab of Ellie Ehrenfeld.Etchison took a postdoc at Salk Institute for Biological Studies. She worked in Gernot Walter’s lab, but soon moved to a position in Kansas.

Glen A. Evans grew up in San Diego, California, the oldest of three children. He first decided on a science career when he was in high school, and during the summer before he matriculated at UCSD he worked in Renato Dulbecco’s lab. He graduated in just three years, with a major in biology, enough credits for another major in chemistry, and with two published papers. Evans entered the Medical Scientist Training Program offered by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), choosing UCSD, where he continued work he had begun as an undergraduate in Michael G. Rosenfeld’s lab on activation of hormone genes in the pituitary gland. Evans’ first job was in Philip Leder’s lab at the NIH’s Public Health Service, funded by the U.S. Navy. Finding the lab too large, Evans moved to Jonathan Seidman’s lab to work on histocompatibility antigens. When Leder and Seidman left NIH for Harvard University, taking most of the lab with them, Evans decided to finish his third year and then move to the Salk Institute for Biological Studies. Though he has to fund his own work at the Salk he finds it intellectually free, smaller, and more efficient. His lab is mostly involved with the Human Genome Project. To finish the interview Evans discusses his documentation, a typical day at work, his rolling contract, and his ideal lab environment.

Thomas E. Everhart matriculated at Harvard University where he majored in physics. After graduation he went to University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) for a master’s degree, in conjunction with Hughes Aircraft Company, where he focused on applied physics and engineering. There he first began working with electron beams. For his PhD he went to Clare College, University of Cambridge, working in Charles W. Oatley’s lab. In his dissertation he dealt with SEM contrast formation, observed voltage contrast across P-N junctions, and explored potential applications. After graduation Everhart became an assistant professor of electrical engineering at University of California, Berkeley. With Donald O. Pederson and Paul L. Morton, they founded the first integrated circuit (IC) lab. During his years at Berkeley, Everhart consulted for Watkins-Johnson, Ampex, Westinghouse Research Laboratories, and Hughes Aircraft Company. He also progressed to full professor and then to chairman of the electrical engineering and computer science (EECS) department. Everhart left Berkeley to become Dean of Engineering at Cornell University. After six and a half years at Cornell, Everhart was offered the chancellorship of the University of Illinois. Three years later Everhart was chosen to be president of California Institute of Technology a position he held for ten years.