Browse Oral Histories Alphabetically

Joseph Labovsky begins his oral history with a discussion of his family and early life in Ukraine, as well as his recollection of his family's move to the United States. Labovsky was trained as a master electrician, and went on to receive a bachelor's degree in industrial chemical engineering. Labovsky speaks at length about his career at DuPont, including the development of nylon and his mentors and colleagues, including Wallace Carothers and Paul Flory.

For more information on Michael Lagunoff, 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. 

Keith J. Laidler discusses his childhood and education, including his time at Oxford University, where Laidler received training and undergraduate and graduate degrees in chemistry and physical chemistry, and as a graduate student in physical chemistry at Princeton University. Laidler recalls the inception and development of the transition-state theory as well as his own research. Laidler concludes his interview with recollections of several eminent chemists, including Cyril Hinshelwood, Henry Eyring, and Hugh Stott Taylor. 

Ralph Landau begins his oral history by discussing his childhood and education, including his time as an undergraduate in chemical engineering at the University of Pennsylvania and as a graduate student at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Landau recalls his time at Kellex Corporation-where he worked on the Manhattan Project-as well as M. W. Kellogg Corporation, Scientific Design Company, and Halcon International. 

Frank A. Laski was born in Detroit, Michigan. He attended the University of Michigan, where he obtained a BS in general studies and worked in Ethel Noland Jackson's lab, becomin interested in recombinant DNA. Laski entered Massachusetts Institute of Technology for his Ph. D, where he worked in Phillip A. Sharp's lab. He took a postdoc in Gerald M. Rubin's lab at the University of California at Berkeley, working on the relationship between P elements and germline tissue. He then accepted an assistant professorship at the Department of Biology and at the Molecular Biology Institute at the University of California at Los Angeles, where he remains today. His work encompasses bacteriophage packaging; transfer RNA; Drosophila ovaries; P elements; oogenesis; and genetic mutations in Drosophila. 

Jay T. Last begins his oral history by discussing his early life and education, including his undergraduate work at University of Rochester and his graduate work in the von Hippel lab at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Last first joined the Shockley Semiconductor Laboratory but was part of the Traitorous Eight" to form Fairchild Semiconductor; Last later worked at Amelco Corporation and Teledyne Technologies, among other endeavors. Last speaks about the business climate of Silicon Valley as well as the American and international semiconductor industries.

Martin Latterich was born in Hamburg, Germany. From a young age he was interested in his mother's work - she was a chemist - and spent much of his youth performing his own experiments and taking apart electronics. Latterich attended Durham University for undergrad, where he undertook a research project studying pathogenesis mechanisms and crown gall tumors. He also worked under John Boyle at the Imperial Cancer Research Fund. He stayed at Durham for his graduate degree. After a postdoc, he accepted a position at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies. He then decided to move into industry, first working for Diversa Corporation and then for Illunina, Incorporated. Ultimately, he chose to return to academia, joining McGill University, researching membrane-fusion elements required for intracellular transport. 

Lester F. Lau lived in Hong Kong until he was fourteen. When the family moved to Brooklyn, Lau did well in academics. He attended the City College of New York, then studied molecular biology at Cornell University. He describes manipulating synthetic DNA to study transcription and termination. Lau worked at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and the Northwestern University Medical School in Chicago, then the University of Illinois College of Medicine, where he is now an associate professor. Lau talks about whether outsiders can still make contributions to science, and the status of women and minorities in science. He concludes by talking about his National Institutes of Health grant reviews and his plans to explore a genetics approach to isolating immediate-early genes. 

Yuri A. Lazebnik was born in Severomorsk, Russia. His family did not have much growing up, so Lazebnik worked through high school and college to support himself and his mother. He was an avid reader, enjoying the works of Jules Verne. As a teenager Barry Commoner's The Closing Circle: Nature, Man, and Technology made Lazebnik consider environmental science as a career. He studied biology and biochemistry as an undergraduate at St. Petersburg State University, continuing his education as a graduate student in Valerei  Vasiliev's lab, where he studied cell cycle. While he was in France as a visiting scientist, the August Putsch of 1991 occurred in Moscow, spurring Lazebnik's decision to move to the United States. Lazebnik joined the Earnshaw laboratory at Johns Hopkins University. He is now at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. 

Joshua Lederberg begins his three-part interview by discussing his early years in New York and the early influence of science on his education. Lederberg received his bachelor's degree in biology from Columbia University, worked with Francis Ryan on Neurospora and E. coli, enlisted with the United States Navy, and received his Ph.D. in microbiology from Yale University. Lederberg discusses his career in academia, including his time at the University of Wisconsin, as well as his Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 1958. 

Joshua Lederberg begins the interview by discussing his involvement in contamination issues of planetary exploration. Lederberg recalls his work to develop alternatives to the "man-in-space" program, as well as his time on several national committees for both planetary exploration and health-related matters. Additionally, Lederberg discusses writing his column, the environment at Stanford University during the Cold War, and his thoughts on U. S. defense projects. 

Peter B. Lederman was born in Weimar, Germany. When Peter was seven the family left for the United States; eventually Lederman chose to attend the Forest Hills High School, where he was inspired in science by his chemistry and biology teacher, Paul Brandwein. Lederman majored in chemical engineering when he entered the University of Michigan; Brymer Williams became Lederman's advisor and mentor. Lederman accepted a job as processing engineer in lube oils at Shell Oil in Illinois, but he left there to go back to Michigan for a master's degree. He was drafted into the Army Petroleum School, where he taught petroleum technology, but subsequently returned to graduate school. From there Lederman began work on a pilot unit in ethylene-propylene copolymers for Esso Research Laboratories, later moving to Esso's New Jersey laboratories as a process engineer. About to be promoted, he decided to accept an associate professorship at Brooklyn Polytechnic Institute. While teaching there he worked on a solid waste management program for the garbage committee of New Providence, New Jersey. This interest eventually branched into a general fascination with environmental issues; while at Poly he obtained a National Science Foundation grant to help disadvantaged students study pollution. Lederman left Poly for the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency, where he attempted to combine fragmented areas of pollution. He worked as the director of the Industrial Waste Treatment Research Laboratory until it was moved to Ohio, at which time Lederman spent a year as head of the program in Washington, D. C. , before returning to New Jersey. He spent his next four years at Research-Cottrell, developing electrostatic precipitators, negotiating contracts in Japan, and managing crises. Superfund had just been established by statute, and hazardous materials had become a hot issue, so Lederman went to Roy F. Weston, Inc. , to consult on hazardous materials. There he was responsible for government contracts, especially technical assistance for emergency response consulting, and strategic policy regarding hazardous materials. Wanting to finish his career in academia, Lederman went to the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) in the Center for Environmental Engineering and Sciences, in the Office of Intellectual Property, and as Research Professor of Chemical Engineering and Environmental Policy. 

Kuo-Fen Lee was raised in Kaohsing, Taiwan and attended National Taiwan University, where he became interested in molecular biology after a virology course. He received his master's degree from National Yang-Ming Medical College, and then pursued his doctorate at Baylor College of Medicine. He researched gene regulation using transgenic technology and steroid hormone peptides in Jeffrey M. Rosen's lab. During a postdoc at Whitehead Institute for Biological Research, he worked on crafting a genetic knockout mouse to study neural crest cell migration during development and published in Cell, Science, and Nature. After meeting Story C. Landis and Wylie Vale and attending a Gordon Research Conference on hormone action, Lee accepted a position at Salk Institute for Biological Studies, researching neurobiological development, synapse function, and glial cell function. 

Greg E. Lemke attended Massachusetts Institute of Technology, majoring in biology and minored in music. He was a teaching assistant in Annamaria Torriani-Gorini’s microbiology class; he liked short experiments with fast results. He worked on glycoproteins in the labs of Phillips Robbins and Ellen Henderson. Lemke chose California Institute of Technology for graduate school because it was strong in molecular biology and neurobiology. In Jeremy Brockes’s lab he worked on Schwann cells, which he found to be his life’s interest. For his postdoctoral work, Lemke he took his project to a postdoc in Richard Axel’s lab. The Salk Institute for Biological Studies offered him a job and the independence of his own lab. He took his project with him; half of his lab continues the myelin work, attempting to understand signal transduction in the development of cells and studying differentiation in Schwann cells. The lab is also working on protein-tyrosine kinase. He hopes one day to understand how cell fate is specified during development, with a particular interest in the nervous system.

For more information on Richard Lemons, 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. 

Gustavo Leone was born in Montevideo, Uruguay, and lived there until he was twelve when his family moved to Montréal, then to Calgary, seeking better opportunities. Leone entered the University of Calgary, where he did not do well his first year. He left school for a year and a half; upon his return, hw worked hard and did well, intending to become a doctor. After his third year he spent the summer working in Patrick Lee's lab. He loved that work so much he knew he was made for research. He remained in Lee's lab for his PhD, where he worked on reovirus and began work on cell cycles. Lee advised Leone to go to Duke University to work with Joseph Nevins. There he studied cell cycle with James DeGregori, who had lived in Uruguay for a year. The two hit it off and published an important paper before DeGregori left Duke. From Nevins, Leone says he learned mentoring and lab management as well as a great deal of science. Leone accepted an offer from Ohio State University. Changing technology brought the opportunity to study interrelationships among the E2F family members, which is where Leone sought a cure for some cancers, notably breast cancer. Seeing cancer as a complex disease needing collaboration and communication among people with differing approaches and goals, Leone established Tumor Microenvironment. He is also one of the heads of the OSU Comprehensive Cancer Center. He continues to find the study of chemistry and genetics of cancer tissue important and fascinating. 

John M. Leong was born in Berkeley, California. His parents expected him to attend an Ivy League school and become a doctor. He entered the Program in Liberal Medical Education at Brown University, which grants a BS and an MD, but a molecular biology class inspired him to become a research scientist and work toward a PhD as well as an MD. He entered Arthur Landy's lab, where he began working on œü80. John accepted a postdoc at Tufts University, where he worked on the inv gene of Yersinia pseudotuberculosis, then on Lyme spirochete. He has experienced a hostile political climate surrounding the study of Lyme, and thinks he will add enterohemorrhagic E. coli to his research interests. He laughingly points out that there is more grant money in E. coli, too. Leong is now at the University of Massachusetts. 

Charles F. Lettow studied chemical engineering as an undergraduate.  He held one job in the chemical industry before serving in the US Army; after his military service he moved into the field of law. After clerkships with the Hon. Benjamin C. Duniway and the Hon. Warren E. Burger, he was invited to work for the President’s Council on Environmental Quality.  There he was involved in the creation of US Environmental Protection Agency and several environmental laws, including the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).  Lettow and J. Clarence Davies used the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act as their primary model for writing a toxics law that would include both a premarket review and imminent hazard provision. Lettow discusses the debates surrounding the issues of preemption, citizen suits, judicial review, penalties, administrative searches, and confidentiality.

Doron Levin grew up in Johannesburg, South Africa, one of four children. Levin followed the science track in high school, and he was inspired to study chemistry when he attended an after-school program called geology, paleontology, and petrochemistry. He entered the chemical engineering department at the University of Witwatersrand with a bursary from Sasol. Since there was no scope for advanced degrees in South Africa, Levin entered Massachusetts Institute of Technology's (MIT) PhD program. During a summer internship at Exxon he worked with Stuart Soled, who has remained a friend as well as colleague. Levin obtained a master's degree in chemical engineering practice from having attended the David H. Koch School of Chemical Engineering Practice and a PhD in chemical engineering from MIT. Levin accepted a job with Mobil Oil Company, continuing his catalysis work. When Mobil merged with Exxon Corporation Levin was assigned to a team working on methanol to olefins (MTO). He was transferred to Process Research to support the manufacture of catalysts and was tasked with developing the next generation of catalysts. He discovered TransPlusNG. From there he moved to Hydroprocessing, where he worked with Soled to develop Nebula, which is based on his summer intern work with nickel molybdates. Levin is now an integrated project team leader (IPTL), but he will soon return to Catalyst Technology, this time as a Section Head, responsible for developing the professionals in his section as well as his own leadership qualities. 

David E. Levy grew up in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. He was always interested in science; he had chemistry kits, built rockets, made his own chemicals for his dark room, and observed animals. He attended the University of Tennssee, studying biology, and took a job at the Laboratory in the Molecular Anatomy Program after graduation. He then worked for a year in immunologist Alan Solomon's lab at the University of Tennessee's Memorial Research Center. Excited by the confluence of chemistry and biology, he decided to become a scientist. He was accepted at CalTech and began researching immunology, then switched to Richard Lerner's lab at Scripps Research Institute, where he studied retroviruses. Next, he accepted a postdoc at Rockefeller University, where he remains an adjunct faculty member. 

Norman Li discusses his early life in China and Taiwan, as well as his education, which included a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering from National Taiwan University as well as an M.S. from Wayne State University and a Ph.D. from Stevens Institute of Technology. Li reflects on his career in industry, including his time at Exxon Research and Engineering Company, where he received a combined total of 44 patents on either hydrocarbon separations or facilitated transport. Li also discusses his move to research administration and the future of chemical R&D. 

Judy Lieberman was born in Boston, Massachusetts. Until about tenth grade Judy wanted to be a historian, but an excellent biology teacher and a summer science program at Cornell turned her to science. Judy studied physics at Harvard University, then pursued a PhD in physics at Rockefeller University, where she studied with Bram Pais. But after a few positions in physics labs, Judy realized she was unhappy and decided to become a doctor. She obtained her MD from a joint program at Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Judy has decided to devote her skills to research, specifically immunology. She continues to seek an immunotherapy for AIDS and other diseases, believing an AIDS therapy can be found, if not a cure. 

For more information on Jim Jung-Ching Lin, 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. 

Maurice B. Line discusses his education and early career, including his bachelor's and master's degrees in Classics from Oxford University and his first job as a library trainee at Oxford's Bodleian Library. Line also discusses his various library positions and some of his notable accomplishments: assisting in the creation of the first automated acquisition system in Britain, directing INFROSS (a study of social scientists' information requirements) and DISISS (a study on designs of information systems). Additionally, Line speaks about the constraints of working in the public sector, as well as the importance of technology in making libraries more accessible to users. 

W. Ian Lipkin was born in Chicago, Illinois and studied anthropology at Sarah Lawrence College, though a class on inorganic chemistry aroused an interest in science. Wanting to combine his interest in primitive people with his desire to be of service, he attended medical school, studying infectious diseases. During his residency with the University of Washington, he was sent to a Veterans Administration hospital in Idaho, an experience he found to be intense. While at University of California, San Francisco, he became interested in AIDS patients with neurological diseases. After a postdoc at Scripps Research Institute, he accepted an assistant professorship at University of California, Irvine, where he is now Co-Director of the Markey Program in Human Biology. 

Jeffrey M. Lipton was born and raised in Bronx, New York, the son of a Polish immigrant. He attended Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, after which he began a career at DuPont; while working at DuPont he received his MBA from Harvard Business School. Lipton's success at DuPont was recognized quickly, so the company called upon him to undertake various projects and roles; at age twenty-nine Lipton was named business manager and head of marketing of color pigments. He then became, over time, director of the development division, head of the photo products division, COO of New England Nuclear (a DuPont acquisition), vice president of the polymers division, and vice president of the planning division, where, in the search for methods of cost reduction, he developed and utilized cash flow cycle time to analyze the company. He then moved to Nova Chemicals Corporation, which he joined as a CFO. 

Max D. Liston discusses his early career and education, including bachelor's degree in electrical engineering from the University of Minnesota, his first job at Chrysler Corporation, and his master's in mechanical engineering from the Chrysler Institute. Liston transferred to General Motors, then Perkin Elmer, and then formed the Liston-Folb company (later Liston-Becker) with Morris Folb, where his projects included three atmospheric-analyzer models for U. S. Navy submarines and the Model 16 capnograph. Liston discusses the Beckman Instruments acquisition of Liston-Becker, his notable projects while at Beckman, including the development of automobile-emissions analyzers for smog tests in Los Angeles, California, and the formation of Liston Scientific. 

William F. Little discusses his early life in a small town and education, including his discovery of chemistry at Lenoir-Rhyne College, where he received a bachelor's degree in mathematics, biology, and chemistry, and his graduate studies at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where Little received an M.S. in physical chemistry and Ph.D. in organic chemistry. Little recalls his lengthy career at a few institutions: North Carolina, where Little began as a professor and later, as chairman of the chemistry department, revised the curriculum and got a new laboratory built; the Research Triangle Foundation, where Little helped establish the Research Triangle Park. Additionally little recalls his various administrative responsibilities and assesses his career in North Carolina. 

Fenyong Liu was born in Guangzhou, China. Early on he knew he wanted to pursue science. He attended the prestigious University of Science and Technology of China. Encouraged by his professors, Liu attended graduate school in the United States at University of Chicago. While his initial research focused on the biochemistry of viral DNA replication, Liu focused in the last years of his doctoral study on the genetics of the herpes virus capsid protein, which resulted in a patent and created intense interest from the pharmaceutical industry. He followed up his graduate research with postdoctoral positions at Bristol-Myers Squibb Pharmaceutical Research Institute and Yale University, where he worked with Sidney Altman on the inhibition of antiviral gene expression. His current research has focused on cytomegalovirus infection. 

Roy M. Long grew up in Lebanon, a small town near Hershey, Pennsylvania. Teachers told his parents he was good in science and math, so his parents pushed him toward medicine. Long attended Pennsylvania State University, majoring in molecular and cell biology. He made his decision to pursue scientific research rather than medicine when he took a gene expression class; then, wanting to gain lab experience to see if indeed research would be a good career for him, he worked in Ross Hardison's laboratory. He entered Milton S. Hershey Medical School of Pennsylvania State University for graduate study in biochemistry, where he worked in James Hopper's laboratory. Long accepted a postdoctoral fellowship with Robert Singer at University of Massachusetts Medical School; there his research centered on RNA localization. Long discusses the process of conducting scientific research; setting up and running his laboratory; funding; the impact of the Pew Scholars Program in the Biomedical Sciences grant on his work; and his teaching and administrative responsibilities. 

Robert E. Lorenzini discusses his childhood, early aptitude in engineering and science, and undergraduate and graduate degrees at Stanford University in materials science. After graduation, Lorenzini was recruited by Rheem Semiconductors, where his work led to Rheem's own crystal growing furnace and ability to produce its own silicon wafers; Lorenzini's time at Rheem was followed by stints at Allegheny Electronics Chemical Company, Knapic Electrophysics, and Elmat Corporation. Lorenzini reflects on his time at Siltec Corporation as Chairman and CEO, as well as his time at SunPower Corporation, which he founded with Stanford professor Richard Swanson. 

Marinus Los discusses his early life in the Netherlands and England, as well as his education at Edinburgh University, where he first became interested in biochemistry and received a Ph.D. in that field. Los took a research position at the National Research Council in Canada and conducted research in the structural chemistry of alkaloids and plants before moving on to a research chemist position at American Cyanamid Company. Los discusses his research on imidazolinoes, a type of plant growth regulators, and its results: the herbicides Assert, Arsenal, and Pursuit, as well as a National Medal of Technology. 

Kun Ping Lu was born in Pinghe County, a rural area of Fujian Province in southern China, one of six children. Despite his family's poverty and lack of influence, when Lu reached high school age, he was able to take an entrance exam. His teachers encouraged him to consider college. He was accepted into Fujian Medical School, where he worked in Wang Qinchun's lab. He began a master's program at Suzhou Medical College, where he studied atherosclerosis. There he became interested in cell-growth regulation. Lu had his first plane ride, his first car ride, and his first view of the United States on his way to work as a technician in Anthony Means's laboratory at Baylor College of Medicine. Eventually he was able to begin a doctoral program at Baylor; then he and the Means laboratory transferred to Duke University. Lu describes his doctoral work on calcium-calmodulin signaling in Aspergillus ;  the process of writing journal articles in the Means laboratory; and his postdoctoral fellowship in Tony Hunter's laboratory at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies. From there Lu accepted a position at Harvard School of Medicine. Lu describes his lab; his current research on characterizing the function of peptidyl-prolyl isomerase Pin1 and telomere regulation in cell growth; the practical applications of his research; and the commercialization of his research. 

Robert Luciano his early life and education in New York, as well as his time at City College of New York, his Army service in the Pentagon, and his law degree at the University of Michigan. After several years of practicing law, Luciano accepted a position at Ciba Corporation, where he moved through the ranks to eventually become President of the Pharmaceuticals Division, and later took a position at Schering-Plough Corporation as Senior Vice President of Administration. Luciano discusses research and development at Schering-Plough, his attempts to increase understanding in the pharmaceutical industry that failure in cutting-edge research programs should be expected and tolerated, and the future of the smaller pharmaceutical companies. 

Henry Earl Lumpkin discusses his trajectory from his Texas childhood to his career in mass spectrometry. Lumpkin received his bachelor's degree in chemistry at Southwestern Texas State University and joined the U. S. Army Air Corps, where he took graduate classes in meteorology before taking a position at Humble Oil and Refining Company, where Lumpkin was able to take courses, publish, and take part in innovative research. Lumpkin also discusses his role in the American Society for Testing and Materials, as well as in the American Society for Mass Spectrometry, and his thoughts on the future of mass spectrometry. 

James R. Lupski was born on Long Island, New York, and as a child developed Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease (CMT), which required several surgeries that kept him at home for much of high school. Based on his experiences, he decided to become a doctor. He won a scholarship to New York University (NYU) to study chemistry and biology. In David Schuster's laboratory he tried to isolate brain receptors; during summers he worked at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, learning to clone genes. After receiving an MD/PhD from NYU, he was given a faculty appointment at Baylor University, where he set up his own lab and began his research into the genetics of CMT. Lupski eventually patented a diagnostic test for CMT and continues his research on the disease. 

For more information on Marla Luskin, 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.