Nadrian C. Seeman grew up in Highland Park, Illinois. He obtained his PhD in crystallography from the University of Pittsburgh; then took a postdoc at Columbia University, working with Cyrus Levinthal, and a second postdoc in Alexander Rich's lab at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Rich discovered hybridization, which is the basis of all of Seeman's DNA nanotechnology work. Seeman began his professional career in the biology department at State University of New York at Albany. When Neville Kallenbach left the University of Pennsylvania to become chairman of the chemistry department at New York University, he recruited Seeman to join the NYU faculty. Seeman was influenced by the Escher print Depth to develop both three-dimensional (cube-like and similar) lattices of DNA, a process requiring branched DNA and sticky ends. As a result he is often referred to as the father of DNA nanotechnology. (He says he is sometimes called the father of single-stranded synthetic DNA topology because he recognized that DNA is the ideal synthetic topological component. ) He founded the International Society for Nanoscale Science, Computation, and Engineering (ISNSCE). He feels that other applications of his work include nanoelectronics and a way to look at what happens in living systems on the molecular scale by using DNA crystals to scaffold biomacromolecules to establish their structures and interactions with other species. Seeman shared the 2010 Kavli Prize in Nanoscience from the Norwegian Academy of Sciences with Donald Eigler for their development of unprecedented methods to control matter on the nanoscale. " Seeman founded the field, but there are now more than a hundred groups worldwide in DNA nanotechnology. Seeman's current work deals with extending the crystallographic aspects of his DNA constructs, as well as automatic molecular weaving.
Harry Sello discusses his childhood, which included emigration from Russia. Sello became interested in chemistry and completed undergraduate work in organic chemistry before applying this knowledge to his PhD research at the University of Missouri. William Shockley recruited him to Shockley Semiconductor Laboratory. At Shockley and then at Fairchild Semiconductor, Sello worked on a variety of chemical aspects of semiconductor manufacturing. Sello concentrated on the transfer of silicon transistor technology to Societa Generale Semiconduttore in Italy, negotiating cultural and industrial boundaries. In 1980, he began Harry Sello Associates after Fairchild Semiconductor was sold to Schlumberger Exploration. Sello concludes the interview with reflections on his current role as an expert witness.
Charles N. Serhan grew up in Brooklyn and did his undergraduate work at State University of New York at Stony Brook, where he studied biochemistry and immunohistochemistry. Michael Heidelberger persuaded Serhan to go to graduate school at New York University and to work in the lab of Gerald Weissmann, where his interest in the role of neutrophils in inflammation led to Serhan's doctoral research. After finishing his PhD, Serhan became a visiting scientist at the Karolinska Institute. He collaborated with James L. Madarain studying white cells' interaction with epithelial cells, trying to accelerate healing. He studied lipoxins in trout and describes the accidental discovery of trout lipoxin. Serhan says that today's scientists lead pressured lives, and should not be evaluated by grants they receive or laboratory size.
William C. Sha grew up in Chicago. His father and mother worked at the Argonne National Laboratory. During high school, he published with Ejup N. Ganic, later President of Bosnia and Herzegovina. While studying at the University of Chicago, he worked at Argonne National Laboratory with Ely M. Gelbard, a formative experience that convinced him to enter an MD/PhD program. He attended Washington University, where he studied immunology with Dennis Y. Loh before accepting a postdoc with David Baltimore at Rockefeller University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Sha then accepted a position at the University of California, Berkeley. He conducts immunology research on the role of costimulatory molecules in regulating the immune response and on B- and T lymphocyte cell interactions.
Irving Shapiro begins by discussing his parents' backgrounds and the influence of his father's interest in law and accounting. He describes the path which took him from a private practice in Minneapolis, to the US Office of Price Administration during WWII, to the US Department of Justice's Criminal Division, where his highly publicized work prosecuting eleven Communists brought him to the attention of the DuPont legal department. Shapiro recalls how his appointment as a DuPont General Counsel heralded a new era for the company in terms of its attitude toward Jews. In considering his advancement to CEO, Shapiro emphasizes his relationships with Walter Carpenter, Crawford Greenewalt, and Charles McCoy, as well as his work with the industrial departments and in disputes involving General Motors, Ford Motors, and Ralph Nader. Shapiro explains how his management and communication practices impacted on public and internal views of DuPont and allowed talented employees to blossom. Finally, Shapiro describes his post-DuPont work.
Phillip A. Sharp begins with a discussion of his family and his childhood in Falmouth, Kentucky. He received his BA in chemistry and math from Union College in 1966. Sharp went on to earn his PhD in chemistry from the University of Illinois. Sharp went to Caltech initially for his post-doctoral studies, but after three years he joined James Watson's virology lab at the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory to learn more about cell biology. In 1974, Sharp accepted an invitation at the newly created Center for Cancer Research at MIT. In 1977, Sharp and Richard J. Roberts discovered split genes, which led to the discovery of RNA splicing for which they shared the Nobel Prize in 1993. Sharp eventually became head of the biology department and director of the Center for Cancer Research. Moreover, Sharp was instrumental in the establishment of one of the first biotech companies, Genentech, Inc., and he helped establish Biogen, Inc. Sharp concludes the interview with reflections on the significance of the neuroscience research community that currently surrounds and includes Harvard University.
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Michael D. Sheets was born in West Lafayette, Indiana. In undergrad, he did not see a clear science path, but a counselor encouraged him to get lab experience. Excited by molecular biology, he applied to the University of Wisconsin because they could provide a good general science education. There Michael worked on polyadenylation of RNA in Marvin Wickens's lab. Sheets accepted a postdoc at University of California, Berkeley, working in John Gerhart's laboratory, where he developed an antibody library for studying gene function during frog development. Today, Sheets continues his research at University of Wisconsin on regulating gene expression in vertebrate development. He works at the bench, teaches, writes grant proposals and journal articles, and ponders the applicability of his research for clinical use.
James L. Sherley was born in Memphis, Tennessee. As a child, he liked performing experiments and soon decided he wanted to be a microbiologist. Though he was high school valedictorian, the title was given to the Caucasian salutatorian instead. As the listed salutatorian, he still gave the valediction because the true salutatorian insisted. At Harvard, Sherley joined Mark Ptashne's lab, where he worked on lambda phage and tumor repression. Interested in studying cancer, he joined the MD/PhD program at Johns Hopkins University, where he studied thymidine kinase in Thomas J. Kelly's lab. After a postdoc at Princeton, he became an associate member at the Fox Chase Cancer Center, where he stayed for seven years before joining the faculty of MIT.
Kevan M. Shokat was raised in Albany, California. His parents were active politically, participating in anti-war and anti-shah movements during the 1970s that culminated in the 1979 Iranian Revolution. While Shokat's high school was vocationally-minded, a guidance counselor suggested he attend Reed College. He did, majoring in chemistry. He completed his thesis with Ronald W. McClard, making inhibitors of enzymes, and doing enzyme kinetics and nucleotide metabolism. While attending grad school at University of California, Berkeley, he worked with Peter G. Schultz in biological chemistry in antibody catalysis. He later accepted a position at Princeton University and received the Pew Scholars Program award. He left Princeton for a position at the University of California, San Francisco, undertaking chemical genetic research on kinases and their substrates.
James N. Shoolery begins by discussing growing up during the Depression and his early interests in chemistry. His education at University of California, Berkeley, was interrupted by World War II, during which he served in the US Navy. Shoolery decided to pursue a PhD in chemistry at the California Institute of Technology and worked under Don M. Yost on microwave spectroscopy. Shoolery wrote to Varian Associates, Inc. about the possibility of his coming to work there on applications for nuclear magnetic resonance; he spent nearly forty years working there.
Stewart H. Shuman was born in Queens, New York. His high school offered an advanced program in science; he recalls especially enjoying an exciting biology class. He also took a college-level class and attended a National Science Foundation program while in high school. He graduated summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Wesleyan University and completed his MD/PhD degree at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva Unversity. He began his career at Massachusetts General Hospital, then moved to the Laboratory of Viral Diseases at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). From there he joined Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, where he remains today. He has published many articles about his work with capping enzyme in vaccinia virus and covalent catalysis.
Kenneth F. Siebel begins with a discussion of his undergraduate studies at the University of Wisconsin. Shortly after earning his MBA Siebel formed his own investment banking firm Robertson, Coleman, and Siebel in 1969. While building it into a highly successful firm, he underwrote many now famous technology companies. The conversation then turns to Siebel's commitment to conservation and his involvement in Conservation International. It was through Conservation International that Siebel became friends with another board member, Gordon E. Moore. Finally, the interview focuses on the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, from its launch through Siebel's presentday involvement as a board member.
Rudolf Signer starts his oral history interview by talking about his family background in Switzerland and his study of chemistry at ETH. Graduate research on polyoxymethylenes with Staudinger introduced Signer to the young field of polymer chemistry. A Rockefeller Fellowship enabled Signer to work with Svedberg at Uppsala and with Bragg at Manchester. Signer concludes with recollections of a post-war tour of the United States and of his memories of Staudinger.
Howard E. Simmons, Jr., begins by describing his family history. Drawn to Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) because of its post-World War II reputation, he studied chemistry and conducted research under Jack D. Roberts. Earning a BS in 1951, he continued at MIT with Roberts and Arthur C. Cope, completing a PhD. Simmons became a member of research staff in the Central Research Department at DuPont in 1954. His early studies on structure and mechanisms led to the Simmons-Smith reaction, the first general synthesis of cyclopropanes, and a related patent. He closes with a description of his sons' DuPont careers and comments on scientific misconduct.
In this interview, Dr. Sinfelt recalls his childhood during the Depression, his early education, and his interest in mathematics. Sinfelt describes the University of Illinois chemistry department under Roger Adams and his own studies under Harry Drickamer. Moving on to the Exxon Research and Engineering Company, Sinfelt describes how his research on catalytic reaction kinetics meshed with Exxon's increased emphasis on basic research and how this led to his discovery of bimetallic clusters and the success of the platinum-iridium catalyst.
Michael K. Skinner won a wrestling scholarship to Warner Pacific College, but left the sport to focus on studying. His chemistry teacher, William Davis, persuaded Skinner to transfer to Reed College, where he shifted his interest from radiation chemistry to biochemistry. Skinner went to Michael Griswold’s lab at Washington State University, where he learned biochemistry techniques and picked up molecular biology. He began his life’s work in reproductive biology, working in proteins. Finishing his PhD in three years, he continued his focused approach in Irving Fritz’s lab at C.H. Best Institute at University of Toronto, learning a great deal of physiology. Skinner worked on Sertoli cells, and he found a mesenchymal conductor in testis. During his postdoc he had seven to ten publications. Skinner was recruited to Vanderbilt University’s large, excellent reproductive unit by Marie-Claire Orgebin-Crist.
Cedomir Sliepcevich begins with a description of his family and early years in Montana. After transferring to the University of Michigan for chemical engineering, he received his BS, MS and PhD. While a graduate student, Sliepcevich studied thermodynamics under George Granger Brown. During World War II, he worked on a National Defense Research Council classified project and worked as a consultant for the US Army V-2 rocket test program. In 1955, he joined the faculty of the University of Oklahoma as Professor and Chairman of Chemical Engineering. Sliepcevich was instrumental in establishing the Flame Dynamics Laboratory. He founded his own firm, University Engineers, Inc., in 1963, which specialized in fire protection systems for liquid natural gas. The interview is not available in audio format.
Emil Smith begins by discussing his undergraduate study of biology at Columbia University. He received a Guggenheim fellowship to Cambridge University until the outbreak of World War II. Smith accepted a position at the University of Utah and later University of California, Los Angeles. Smith describes his research interests: peptidases, immunoglobulins, cytochromes, subtilisin, histones, and glutamate dehydrogenases.
Gioia Smith has lived in Ambler all her life. She worked in the social service department at Head Start and is active in the NAACP, the American Legion, and her church. Smith first became aware of Ambler's asbestos hazard when the US Environmental Protection Agency began its cleanup of the Ambler Asbestos Area. When a proposed high-rise on the BoRit site brought the asbestos fears to the forefront again Smith worried more about displacement of the nearby poor people and about taxes. Smith laments the loss of the small-town feel of Ambler, describing all the old small businesses that are gone now. She says that the revitalization of the town is due mainly to restaurants and to outsiders. Smith continues to attend meetings of the BoRit community advisory group.
Henry I. Smith begins by describing his childhood in New Jersey and his early aptitude in science. After obtaining an undergraduate degree at Holy Cross, Smith earned a master's degree and PhD at Boston College. Smith established a Submicron Structures Laboratory with MIT funding. He concludes the interview by offering some insights on the semiconductor industry, and how to best develop a research culture that stimulates innovation.
Lloyd M. Smith grew up in Berkeley, California. He attended the University of California, Berkeley, where he majored in biochemistry. He worked in Wayne Hubbell's lab, studying membranes and synthetic chemistry. On Hubbell's advice he enrolled in graduate school at Stanford University, entering Harden McConnell's lab to work on diffusion in membranes, obtaining his PhD in biophysics. He accepted a postdoc with Leroy Hood at the California Institute of Technology. During months of sequencing he thought up the first fluorescence-based automated DNA sequencing instrument. Working with Michael Hunkapiller on commercialization of his technology, he became a consultant for Applied Biosystems. Smith accepted an assistant professorship at the University of Wisconsin, eventually becoming Director of the Genome Center and Chair of the Analytical Sciences Division in the Department of Chemistry. There Smith developed another laser system for sequence analysis and began the use of matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization (MALDI) on nucleic acids. He also founded his own company, Third Wave Technologies.
Charles P. Smyth begins by discussing his undergraduate education at Princeton and his tenure at the National Bureau of Standards and the Chemical Warfare Service during the First World War. Smyth discusses his PhD training at Harvard and his return to Princeton as an instructor. His work on dipole moment led to an important discovery about benzene ring structure that proved the Kekulé model correct. The interview ends with a discussion of Smyth's work on deuterium and the Manhattan Project. In the appendix, "Scientist in a Jeep," Smyth narrates a detailed account of his work in the US, France and Germany with the ALSOS Mission.
Martin Snider worked with Joseph Steim, a biophysical chemist interested in the functionality of membranes, while studying at Brown University. Encouraged by Joan Lusk, Snider entered Eugene Kennedy’s lab at Harvard University. Snider chose to do postdoctoral work at MIT where he began his research into glycoprotein synthesis in the lab of Phillips Robbins. Funding and lack of distractions at Carnegie Institution for Science allowed Snider to concentrate on new and productive research into vesicular traffic. When it was time for Snider and his wife to establish their own labs, they settled on Case Western Reserve University. Snider has continued his vesicular traffic work, but he has also returned to glycoprotein synthesis, where he says he has new tools to address old problems.
For more information on Michael Snyder, please visit the Pew Scholars in the Biomedical Sciences.
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For more information on Lilianna Solnica-Krezel, please visit the Pew Scholars in the Biomedical Sciences.
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Gábor Somorjai was born in Budapest, Hungary, during World War II. He matriculated in Minta Gimnázium and was accepted to the Budapest University of Technology and Economics, studying chemical engineering. When the Russian tanks rolled into Budapest, Somorjai escaped to Austria and learned about Charles Tobias at the University of California, Berkeley. He immigrated to the United States and was eventually accepted at Berkeley, working with Richard Powell. Somorjai accepted a job at International Business Machines. He built an instrument for his research into low-energy electron diffraction, and observed that catalytic reactions take place on surfaces. Somorjai is called the father of surface science. He is working on heterogenizing homogeneous catalysis to yield hybrid catalysis, and attempting to figure out how to do enzyme catalysis in a hybrid model with heterogeneous catalysis, and then working out how multiple catalysts work. He maintains that the “discovery of [his] life” is that catalytic reactions are controlled by the size and shape of nanoparticles; when two-dimensional they form a Langmuir-Blodgett film, and when three-dimensional they are useful to industry.
John Sondek grew up in Lewiston, New York. He took his first biochemistry class in high school, but his first research experience occurred during college at the University of Rochester, where he became very interested in biochemistry as a career. He attended graduate school at Johns Hopkins University with David Shortle, and then took a postdoctoral fellowship with Paul Sigler at Yale University. He found that Shortle and Sigler had different mentoring styles, both of which influenced his own. Sondek then accepted a position at University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. He discusses his obligation to provide service to his professional community and to promote the national science agenda, as well as his current research in the structural biology of signal transduction and practical applications of his work.
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Harold Sorgenti begins by discussing his family background and childhood in New York City. He attended public school in Brooklyn and graduated City College with a BS in chemical engineering. He found a job after college at Battelle Memorial Institute, and while working received his masters in chemical engineering from Ohio State University. He joined the Atlantic Richfield Oil Corporation (ARCO), where he was quickly promoted into management. After a long career with ARCO Sorgenti undertook entrepreneurial ventures. Sorgenti ends the interview by reflecting on his philanthropic involvements and family life.
Philippe M. Soriano grew up in New York City, with parents of French descent. Soriano's childhood trips to France persuaded him to attend the University of Paris, where he worked with DNA sequences in higher mammals in the lab of Giorgio Bernardi. His work on DNA cloning and fractionation techniques earned Soriano two doctorates, and he taught cDNA cloning in South Africa and Tunisia, a topic he uses to discuss science in Third World countries, his international perspective, and the danger of scientific inbreeding. Soriano began a postdoc in the Jaenisch lab in Hamburg, which later moved to MIT, then left for a position at Baylor College of Medicine. He discusses his future research and his plans to move to the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle.
This interview describes Dr. Edgar W. Spanagel's life, focusing on his contributions to nylon research at the DuPont Company. Spanagel grew up in Wisconsin and attended Lawrence College. Spanagel secured a scholarship to McGill University, where he worked under Charles F. H. Allen. Spanagel, completed his PhD in 1933. He accepted a position as a DuPont Research Chemist in Wallace Carothers' polymer group.
Jack B. St. Clair begins by describing his childhood in Virginia and Louisiana. After graduating from Tulane University, he accepted a position as technical trainee, gas department, at Shell Oil Company's Houston, Texas, refinery. Despite the lack of formal training, St. Clair readily accepted increasing responsibilities, recognizing he was being groomed for higher management After briefly serving as Houston refinery superintendent, he reluctantly moved to England as Shell International Petroleum Company, North American Division head and later the New York Head Office general manager and was quickly promoted to Shell Chemical Company president in 1967.
Jonathan S. Stamler was born near Oxford, England; his family moved to Israel when he was eleven. An unenthusiastic high school student, Stamler focused on tennis, earning a spot on the national team and playing in the Davis Cup. He was accepted at Brandeis University, where he wanted only to continue his tennis career. After a hazing injury took him off the court for a year, he decided to turn his attention to his studies. By sophomore year he was pre-med. He finished Phi Beta Kappa and was accepted to Mt. Sinai School of Medicine. He found his preceptor, Ray Matta, who inspired Stamler to study cardiology. While doing his residency at Brigham and Women's Hospital, he read about free radicals and started researching them. Eventually he came upon nitric oxide, still his area of interest. After several fellowships and a stint at Harvard University, he was recruited by Duke University, where he received tenure within two years.
Kenneth Standing grew up in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. Standing says he ended up in science by process of elimination, by gradually ruling out subjects he did not love. He won a senior scholarship to the University of Manitoba. World War II intervened, and he joined the University Naval Training Division for a year. For his PhD, Standing followed a friend to Princeton University’s physics department, where he worked on scintillation counting in Rubby Sherr’s nuclear physics lab and then on a fast-cycling cloud chamber with Milton White. As a faculty member at the University of Manitoba, Standing was one of the first to study gamma-ray scattering. He spent five years building a cyclotron for Manitoba, tried to help fix the one in Grenoble, France, and then returned to Manitoba to become director of the cyclotron there. A project analyzing protein in wheat for the Grain Research Laboratory, and the arrival of Brian Chait from University of Oxford, pushed Standing toward mass spectrometry. Standing discusses developing and perpetuating the field of time-of-flight mass spec, citing as his most important contribution his 1981 publication of the design of his original time-of-flight mass spectrometer.
William S. Stavropoulos begins with a discussion of his family, his childhood, and education in Bridgehampton, New York. In 1961, Stavropoulos attended Fordham University, where he received a BS in pharmacy. Having received his PhD in medical chemistry from the University of Washington, Stavropoulos was hired at Dow Chemical as a research chemist. In 1980, he became Commercial Vice President of Dow Latin America. In 1995, Dr. Stavropoulos was named CEO of Dow Chemical Company. Dr. Stavropoulos concludes the interview with his thoughts on winning the American Chemical Industry Medal in 2001.
Richard Stein begins by reflecting on the New York City schools which provided a real stimulus, especially in mathematics and science, to him and his contemporaries. Stein attended Brooklyn Technical High School and Brooklyn Polytechnic Institute, where he completed a senior project on light scattering with Paul Doty. Stein then accepted a Textile Foundation fellowship at Princeton University. In the three years of his PhD program he worked under Henry Eyring, Robert Rundle and Arthur Tobolsky. An NRC fellowship took Richard Stein from Princeton to Cambridge to work on infrared dichroism under Gordon Sutherland and he recalls the austerities of life in postwar England and the primitive facilities in the Cambridge physical chemistry laboratories. He returned to the US and was appointed to an assistant professorship in the chemistry department of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Stein describes his heavy teaching load, how he started his research program and the growth of polymer interests at UMass. The latter led to the inauguration of the Polymer Research Institute at UMass and Stein reflects on the academic interactions between chemistry and polymer science.
For more information on Hermann Steller, please visit the Pew Scholars in the Biomedical Sciences.
Leo H. Sternbach begins with a discussion of his family and childhood in Austria and Poland during the First World War. He enrolled in a PhD program in organic chemistry at the Swiss Federal Institute. After beginning work with Hoffmann-La Roche in Basel, increasing pressure to leave Switzerland compelled him to immigrate to the United States, where he continued work with the company in Nutley, New Jersey. Sternbach recalls that he was instructed to terminate his study of benzodiazepines but continued the research unofficially, which led to his significant discoveries of Librium, Valium, and other related drugs.
Walter Stockmayer describes early influences directing him towards the chemical sciences. He first became interested in the mathematical aspects of physical chemistry as an undergraduate at MIT. A Rhodes Scholarship brought Stockmayer to Oxford, where he undertook gas kinetics research with D. L. Chapman. Stockmayer returned to MIT for PhD research and pursued his study of statistical mechanics, which he continued at Columbia. He returned to MIT in 1943 as an assistant professor of chemistry and became involved in the theory of network formation and the gelation criterion. He increasingly directed his attention to theories of polymer solutions, light scattering and chain dynamics. Stockmayer discusses his Guggenheim Fellowship in Strasbourg, France, his first meeting with Hermann Staudinger in Freiburg, Germany, and his subsequent return to MIT. He moved to Dartmouth University in 1961, where he worked primarily on copolymers in dilute solution, established the journal Macromolecules, and collaborated with numerous Japanese scientists. He describes the Gordon Conferences and the polymer community since the 1940s. Stockmayer concludes with his retirement and work as a consultant for Du Pont and other companies.
Markus Stoffel was born in Cologne, Germany. He was interested in science from an early age, and spent an influential high school year abroad in Cambridge, England, where he was struck by the specialization of the educational system. Interested in medicine, Stoffel began studying at Rheinische Friedrich-Willhelms-Universität, but was soon drawn back to Cambridge University. Next, Stoffel took an internship at University of Hamburg and another at the Veterans Administration Medical Center in New York. Influenced by a budding interest in the genetics of diabetes, Stoffel worked under Graeme I. Bell at the University of Chicago, before accepting a position at Rockefeller University, working on a chromosome 20 project and looking at the genes and transcription factors involved in the pathogenesis of type 2 diabetes.
Gilbert Stork begins his interview with a description of his childhood and family background in Paris. Stork and his family moved to the United States in 1939. Stork earned his BS at the University of Florida in 1942, and in 1945 he received his PhD in organic chemistry from the University of Wisconsin. Stork’s graduate work and early career focused on synthesis related to quinine and stereochemical control in synthesis. His first employment after receiving his PhD was with Lakeside Laboratories, working on estrone synthesis. Stork left Lakeside in 1946 and began an instructorship at Harvard University. While at Harvard, he also consulted for the Syntex Corporation. In 1953, Stork left Harvard and joined the faculty of Columbia University, where he continued his organic synthesis research. Stork concludes the interview with a discussion of various developments in organic chemistry, the future of university research funding, and memorable students and co-workers.
Carlyle B. Storm begins by describing his family background and chosen academic path. After obtaining his PhD, Storm became a professor of chemistry at Howard University. In the early 1980s, he accepted a position at Los Alamos National Laboratory, where he researched conventional high explosives as chief scientist, becoming program manager in 1989. Storm first attended Gordon conferences in the early 1970s, and in 1988, founded and chaired the Energetic Materials Conference. Storm’s experiences managing scientists at Los Alamos and working with non-profit boards uniquely qualified him to become the director of the Gordon Research Conferences in 1993. As director, Storm traveled to many conferences, improved administrative processes, and evaluated the economic, participation dynamics, and governance of the organization. Storm feels strongly that graduate students should participate in the conferences, and has encouraged their participation through programs such as the Gordon-Kenan Summer Schools and Graduate Research Seminars. Storm concludes the interview by recalling scientific advances that have been realized as a result of the interaction among leading scientists at the Gordon Research Conferences.
Andrew Streitwieser begins this interview by describing his family, early education, and undergraduate days at Columbia University. He then elucidates his graduate education at Columbia, stressing the influence of William Doering upon his work, before describing his research on molecular orbital theory as a fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Streitwieser then discusses the emergence of organic chemistry at the University of California, Berkeley, and his own ambitious and productive research program there.
Michel Streuli was born in Zürich, Switzerland. In school he liked mathematics and engineering. He had always wanted to be a doctor and a scientist, and based on its pediatrics program, he attended Tufts University. Then he returned to Zürich to work in Charles Weissman's lab, where he worked on cloning interferon. After five years, he took a position at Dana-Farber Cancer Center to work in Stuart F. Schlossman's lab. He found a place in Haruo Saito's lab, working on cloning antigens, specifically the antigen CD45, the leukocyte common antigen. He then accepted an assistant professorship at the Dana-Farber Cancer Center and Harvard University. He is now an associate professor and continues his research. He hopes that his work, which is aimed at understanding the basic mechanisms of the cell, may help others develop new cancer therapies and diagnostic tools.
Lubert Stryer was born in China, where his family lived until he was about ten. During World War II, his family escaped notice of the Japanese, and after the war obtained visas for the United States. In high school, Stryer planned to become a lawyer, but the head of the science department asked him to do some research on bioluminescent bacteria, and Lubert was hooked. By his last year of medical school at Harvard, Stryer knew that he did not want to practice medicine and began a career in research. He worked with Nobel Prize winners in Cambridge, then Stanford, and finally gained a professorship at Yale before returning to Stanford. Using the notes he developed for his class in biochemistry Stryer wrote his now-canonical textbook.
P. Todd Stukenberg attended Colgate University, where he designed his own molecular biology curriculum, working in Ken Burns’ lab. He did a joint PhD at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and Cornell University Medical College, where he discovered sliding clamps while working in Michael O’Donnell’s lab. For postdoctoral work he entered Marc Kirschner’s lab, where he patented in vitro expression cloning. He began his still-continuing work on Aurora B and kinetochore complex Ndc80 and collaborated on Pin1 with Kun Ping Lu. Stukenberg accepted a job offer from the University of Virginia. Believing yeast training to be important, he established a friendship and collaboration with Daniel Burke. He found that Ndc80 complex worked well in Xenopus and developed the use of egg extracts. He explains why he promotes Aurora B as a new class of oncogenes. He explains how kinetochore is involved in binding microtubules and sending a spindle checkpoint signal, for which he has coined the phrase “ionic spaghetti.”
David J. Sullivan, Jr., grew up in Birmingham, Alabama, surrounded by a large and supportive family. He cites the importance of his family's Catholicism, strong work ethic, and their emphasis on Scouting in fostering his interests. His scientific interests blossomed throughout the 1980s against the backdrop of HIV and other infectious diseases, and he became interested in bioethics during medical school. Sullivan also worked at a clinic in Mussoorie, India, during the last few months of medical school, an experience he describes in detail. During his residency at Washington University in St. Louis, Sullivan worked with Daniel E. Goldberg and concentrated his infectious disease research on Malaria. Continuing his efforts on heme crystallization and Zinc photoporphyrin-9, Sullivan brought his research to Johns Hopkins University, where he is today.
Hong Sun was born in Beijing during the Cultural Revolution. This provided a chaotic education, including a year of re-education in the countryside and family separation. The return of the college admission program allowed Sun to pursue her interest in science at Beijing Medical College. She took part in the school's research program, studying the binding affinity of monoclonal antibodies against aflatoxin. Sun received first place in the China United States Biochemistry Examination and Admission (CUSBEA) program examination and attended Harvard University for her doctorate. There, she worked with Jack W. Szostak on the recombination process in meiosis. Next, she took a postdoctoral position at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory with Nicholas K. Tonks, researching the protein tyrosine phosphatase and MKP-1. She is now at Yale University.
Karel Svoboda was born in Prague, Czechoslovakia, but grew up in Germany. Wanting to avoid Germany's mandatory military service, Svoboda attended undergrad in the United States at Cornell University, where he worked in a number of research labs. After a year teaching in Nepal, he went to Harvard for graduate studies. His love of Bell Laboratories during his undergraduate years brought him back there for postdoctoral research on synapses with Winfred Denk and David Tank, and gave him the opportunity to take an influential course on neural systems at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute. Svoboda is now at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, studying biophysical neuroscience in neocortical circuits and their plasticity, with the intent of expanding his work to ensembles of neocortical circuits.