Jonathon Howard

Born: August 15, 1957 | Sydney, AU

Jonathon Howard was born in Sydney, Australia. Howard disliked school intensely-except for mathematics-often playing truant, until he transferred to International School, where he throve under the direction of William Eason. Howard went to Australian National University, obtaining his BSc in mathematics in 1979, then switched to physics and neurobiology for his PhD, which he received from Australian National University in 1983. He first took a postdoc at the University of Bristol in England, but soon moved to the University of California at San Francisco, where he worked in Albert James Hudspeth's lab. Howard became interested in vision and hearing, studying first photoreceptors and hair cells. He accepted an assistant professorship at the University of Washington, where he remains today.

Access This Interview

The information listed below is current as of the date the transcript was finalized.

			

Interview Details

Interview no.: Oral History 0427
No. of pages: 93
Minutes: 350

Interview Sessions

Steven J. Novak
23-25 January 1995
University of Washington, Seattle, Washington

Abstract of Interview

Jonathon Howard was born in Sydney, Australia. The oldest of four children, he grew up in a suburb of Sydney. He lived near Ku-Ring-Gai National Park, where he loved to hike, camp, and fish. He also played cricket and soccer and surfed. His parents were both architects until his father became a successful landscape architect and his mother a teacher of architecture. None of his siblings finished high school, and Howard disliked school intensely—except for mathematics—playing truant for much of his time there. But along came William Eason, who had been headmaster at Ku-Ring-Gai Chase High School before Howard entered. Eason founded International School, to which Howard transferred and in which he throve. From International School Howard went to Australian National University, obtaining his BSc in mathematics in 1979. He lost interest in mathematics and became interested in physics and neurobiology for graduate work. He obtained his PhD from Australian National University in 1983. He then took a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Bristol in Bristol, England. Sensing a lack of common interest with co-workers there and not liking the weather, he took a postdoc at the University of California at San Francisco, where he worked in Albert James Hudspeth's lab. He found UCSF's intellectual climate stimulating and exciting. He also met his wife, Karla M. Neugebauer, there. Howard became interested in both vision and hearing, studying first photoreceptors and then hair cells. He accepted an assistant professorship at the University of Washington, which he thought would be a better place to continue his research on kinesin and myosin. He remains there today, attempting to balance his construction of his own tools, his teaching, his thinking, his research, and his life with wife and young daughter. He has won many awards, including the Pew Scholar in the Biomedical Sciences award, and he has many publications to his credit.

Education

Year Institution Degree Discipline
1979 Australian National University BSc
1983 Australian National University PhD

Professional Experience

Australian National University

1983
Postdoctoral Fellow

University of Bristol

1984
Postdoctoral Fellow

University of California, San Francisco

1985 to 1987
Visiting Postdoctoral Fellow
1988 to 1989
Assistant Research Physiologist

University of Washington

1989 to 1994
Assistant Professor
1994
Associate Professor

Honors

Year(s) Award
1976 to 1978

Australian National Undergraduate Scholarship

1979

Australian Commonwealth Postgraduate Research Scholarship

1981

M. G. F. Fuortes Travelling Scholarship

1988 to 1990

Fellowship, Fondation pour l 'Ètude du Système Nerveux Central et Périphérique

1990 to 1992

Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship

1990 to 1994

Pew Scholar in the Biomedical Sciences

Table of Contents

Early Years
1

Born in Sydney, Australia. Growing up in suburb of Sydney. Three younger siblings. Parents architects at first; then his mother became teacher of architecture and his father a landscape engineer. Attending state schools. Loving the outdoors. Disliking school, but loving mathematics, at which he was good. Truant in high school until he entered International School.

College Years
7

Attending Australian National University in Canberra. Picking fruit for summer job. Reading to upgrade his education. Surfing. Drinking. Socializing. Becoming interested in neurobiology. Summer employment picking cherries--Increasing disillusionment with mathematics.

Graduate School
15

Hermann von Helmholtz's On the Sensations of Tone as the Physiological Basis for the Theory of Music influences Howard. Choosing lab of G. Adrian Horridge for PhD. Studying vision in invertebrates. Photoreceptors in insects. Signal-to-noiseratio. Working with Allan W. Snyder and Simon B. Laughlin

Postgraduate Work
33

Postdoc with Jonathan F. Ashmore at the University of Bristol. Switching to University of California at San Francisco to work with Albert James Hudspeth. Meeting and marrying Karla M. Neugebauer. Deciding to study hair cells and hearing. Gating-spring model of ion channels. From Lower vertebrates' to humans' hearing. Kinesin and myosin.

Later Years
54

Accepting position at University of Washington. Establishing his own lab. Equipment. Funding. Increasing interest of others in kinesin and myosin research. Potential therapeutic benefits of motor protein research. Family life.

Index
90

About the Interviewer

Steven J. Novak