Maurice J. Kernan
The information listed below is current as of the date the transcript was finalized.
Abstract of Interview
Maurice J. Kernan was born and raised in Dublin, Ireland, the eldest of four siblings. His father worked for an insurance company; his mother was a housewife. A love of and interest in nature was nurtured during trips to a nearby area of salt marsh and sand dunes, known as Bull Island, where he explored and watched birds (many of his science projects in school were nature-based and came from his time there); he was also an avid reader, a sailor, and interested in cartography. Kernan began in public school but then switched to a Jesuit school around the time he was eight years old, staying there until he graduated. He matriculated at Trinity College in his hometown, intent on pursuing the biological sciences for his undergraduate education. While there, he developed an interest in genetics and was given a unique opportunity to conduct summer research with a Trinity alumnus, Mittur Jagadish, on the Cornell University campus in the Boyce Thompson Institute for Plant Research. Kernan's project focused on nitrogen fixation done by a symbiotic bacterium, Rhizobium, in the root nodules of legume plants, specifically trying to isolate the rec-A gene from that bacterium by complementation—testing transformed, rec-A deficient E. coli with bits of Rhizobium DNA. While at Cornell he also heard a lecture from Allan C. Spradling, who, with Gerald M. Rubin, had just figured out how to make transgenic Drosophila with P elements. After earning his degree, he moved to the United States for graduate research in genetics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, joining Barry Ganetzky's Drosophila laboratory; his doctoral research led to a pair of Cell papers in the early 1990s. Kernan undertook postdoctoral work in Drosophila on mechanotransduction with Charles S. Zuker (Pew Scholar Class of 1988) at the University of California, San Diego, and from there he accepted a faculty position at SUNY Stony Brook. At the end of the interview Kernan discusses setting up his laboratory and research program and learning to be a laboratory manager. He also discusses funding, teaching, balancing family life with his career, competition and collaboration, the nation's scientific agenda, and the Pew Scholars Program in the Biomedical Sciences.
|1984||University of Dublin, Trinity College||BA||Genetics|
|1990||University of Wisconsin, Madison||PhD||Genetics|
University of Wisconsin, Madison
University of California, San Diego
State University of New York at Stony Brook
Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation Fellowship
UW-Madison: College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Fellowship
University of Wisconsin-Madison: Lubrizol Industrial Fellowship
Genetics Society of America: Sandler Memorial Award for thesisresearch in Drosophila
|1997 to 2001||
Pew Scholars Program in the Biomedical Sciences Grant
Table of Contents
Growing up in Dublin, Ireland. Natural history. Bull Island. Family history. Parents. Siblings. Structure of schools. Reading. Biking. Maps and the natural world. Hiking. Sailing. Switching schools. Art, writing, and science. Observations on Bull IslandReligion and spirituality. Attending Trinity College. Research at Cornell University. Mittur Jagadish. isolate the rec-A gene by complementation. Lecture by Allan C. Spradling. Impressions of America.
More about books, family, school, and college. Applying to graduate schools in the United States. University of Wisconsin Madison. Rotations. Genetic molecular analysis of nap. Chromosome walking. Michael J. Stern. Publishing in Cell. Barry Ganetzky's lab management style. Katherine Loughney. Rachel Drysdale. Segregation Distorter. Graduate life. Lewis Thomas. Postdoctoralwork at Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Charles S. Zuker. Zuker's management style. Charlesisms. Phototransduction. Subtractive hybridization. Screening larvae. Applying for jobs. Karen Kwik. Parenthood. Becoming faculty at the State University of New York, Stony Brook. Setting up lab nompA. Mechanotransduction. Centrioles. Polycystins. Teaching. Travelcommitments. Funding.
Writing journal articles. Lab management style. Professional duties. WoodsHole Marine Biology Lab. Drosophila at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. Balancing family and career. Meeting and life with Karen. Fatherhood. Leisureactivities. Current and future research. Transduction. Cell differentiation. Polycystin. Patents. Origin of ideas. Science, scientists, and the public. Tenure. Competition and collaboration. Grants in the United States. Public policy andscience. Privately funded research. Gender. Pew Scholars Program in theBiomedical Sciences. Final thoughts.