James A. Goodrich

Born: December 31, 1969 | Montrose, PA, US
Photograph of James A. Goodrich

James A. Goodrich grew up in Honesdale, Pennsylvania, the oldest of five children. His sophomore chemistry teacher inspired Goodrich's love of chemistry and established his firm desire to be a scientist. Not realizing what other options science majors had, Goodrich decided to become a doctor. As a result he applied only to the University of Scranton, a Jesuit university nearby that had a very good reputation for placing its graduates in medical schools. He majored in biochemistry. He did his doctoral work in Carnegie Mellon's biology department. There he worked on transcription in William McClure's lab. Next Goodrich accepted a postdoc in Robert Tjian's molecular genetics laboratory at University of California, Berkeley; there his research focused on human transcription. Goodrich accepted a position at University of Colorado, Boulder. He discusses setting up his lab and its makeup; the impact of the Pew Scholars Program in the Biomedical Sciences grant on his work; and his teaching responsibilities. He talks about his current research studying the molecular mechanisms of mammalian transcription; about the University of Colorado, Boulder's facilities; about competition and collaboration in science; tenure; and his administrative duties.

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Interview Details

Interview no.: Oral History 609
No. of pages: 134
Minutes: 350

Interview Sessions

Robin Mejia
15-17 August 2006
University of Colorado, Boulder, Boulder, Colorado

Abstract of Interview

James A. Goodrich grew up in Honesdale, Pennsylvania, the oldest of five children. His father owned his own business; his mother was a homemaker. Both parents finished high school but did not go to college, so Goodrich felt no expectations for college himself. From about fifth grade, when he had a genuine science teacher, he gravitated toward science. His junior high school was pod-style, and he lost interest as a result until the reversion to regular classroom style. His sophomore chemistry teacher inspired Goodrich's love of chemistry and established his firm desire to be a scientist. Unusually for such a small town, his high school had excellent science and mathematics classes, including his junior-year organic chemistry class. Not realizing what other options science majors had, Goodrich decided to become a doctor. As a result he applied only to the University of Scranton, a Jesuit university nearby that had a very good reputation for placing its graduates in medical schools. He majored in biochemistry. He also had to work throughout. He did his doctoral work in Carnegie Mellon's biology department. There he worked on transcription in William McClure's lab. Goodrich here discusses his doctoral research in the McClure molecular biology laboratory; the running of the McClure laboratory; bioinformatics on transcription regulation; his marriage; and the birth of his first daughter. Next Goodrich accepted a postdoc in Robert Tjian's molecular genetics laboratory at University of California, Berkeley; there his research focused on human transcription. Here he compares McClure's mentoring style with Tjian's; he talks about living in and at Berkeley; and he explains the process of writing journal articles in the Tjian lab. Meanwhile, his wife became a lab technician in Tjian's lab. After about four years as a postdoc Goodrich accepted a position at University of Colorado, Boulder. He discusses setting up his lab and its makeup; the impact of the Pew Scholars Program in the Biomedical Sciences grant on his work; and his teaching responsibilities. He talks about his current research studying the molecular mechanisms of mammalian transcription; about the University of Colorado, Boulder's facilities; about competition and collaboration in science; tenure; and his administrative duties. During a recent sabbatical, he spent half of his time writing a training grant; the second half he spent in the lab. He describes the fun he had being at the bench again. He goes on to give his opinions on such issues as the small numbers of minorities in science; decreasing percentage of women in science as they progress from students to faculty members; science education in the schools; patents; funding; and publishing. He talks a little more about his current research in molecular biophysics on regulation of transcription and the practical applications of his research, and about his professional goals. He concludes by explaining how he tries to balance his work life with his life at home with his wife and two daughters.

Education

Year Institution Degree Discipline
1985 University of Scranton BS Biochemistry
1991 Carnegie Mellon University PhD Biological Sciences

Professional Experience

University of California, Berkeley

1992 to 1996
Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Molecular and Cell Biology, with Dr. Robert Tjian

University of Colorado, Boulder

1996 to 2016
Assistant Professor, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry
2002 to 2006
Associate Professor, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry
2006
Professor, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry

Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory

1998 to 2001
Instructor, Eukaryotic Gene Expression Course (Summer)

Honors

Year(s) Award
1992 to 1994

Damon Runyon Walter Winchell Postdoctoral Fellow

1995 to 1998

Leukemia Society of America Special Fellow

1998

University of Colorado Junior Faculty Development Award

1998

Outstanding Professor of 1998 - Mortar Board National Honor Society

1999 to 2003

Pew Scholar in Biomedical Sciences

2000

Runner up for the 2000 SOAR Teacher Recognition Award

2004

Sabbatical

2007

New Inventor of the Year, University of Colorado

Table of Contents

Childhood and Entering College
1

Family background. Siblings. Early education. Childhood interests and experiences. Parental expectations. Attending middle school and high school in Honesdale, Pennsylvania. Influential teacher. Decision to pursue science. Growing up in Honesdale. Attends the University of Scranton. College experiences. Majors in biochemistry.

College and Graduate School
21

Senior research project in college. Typical day in college. Extracurricularactivities. Attends graduate school at Carnegie Mellon University. Marries. Graduate program at Carnegie Mellon. Works in William R. McClure's molecular genetics laboratory. Doctoral research on regulation of transcription.

Postdoctoral Research and Becoming Faculty
48

More on doctoral research. Birth of daughter. Postdoctoral fellowship in Robert Tjian's molecular genetics laboratory at University of California, Berkeley. Research in Tjian's lab on human transcription. William R. McClure's mentoring style. Tjian's mentoring style. Berkeley. Wife's career. Writing journal articles in the Tjian lab. Accepts a position at University of Colorado, Boulder. Setting up lab. Pew Scholars Program in the Biomedical Sciences. Teaching responsibilities. Current research studying the molecular mechanisms of mammalian transcription. University of Colorado, Boulder facilities. Collaboration in science. Tenure at the University of Colorado. Administrative duties.

The Scientific Life
84

More on teaching responsibilities. Gender. Underrepresented groups in science. Science education. Source of his research ideas. Lab management style. More on current research in molecular biophysics on regulation of transcription. Practical applications of research. Patents. Collaboration in science. Sabbatical. Writing journal articles. Duties to professional community. Grant-writing. Funding history. Professional goals. Conducting scientific research. Reasons for becoming a principal investigator. Balancing family and career. Competition in science.

Index
120

About the Interviewer

Robin Mejia