Roy M. Long

Born: December 31, 1969 | Lebanon, PA, US

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. 

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Interview Details

Interview no.: Oral History 0616
No. of pages: 83
Minutes: 450

Interview Sessions

Karen A. Frenkel
2-4 December 2005
Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Abstract of Interview

Roy M. Long grew up in Lebanon, a small town near Hershey, Pennsylvania. His father worked at the Hershey factory, his mother in a department store. Because his father worked afternoons and evenings, Long spent most of his time with his mother, older sister, and grandmother. He attended what he calls average public schools, where his performance did not live up to expectations from standardized tests. 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 worked for two years as a technician in Alberto Manetta's laboratory and then entered Milton S. Hershey Medical School of Pennsylvania State University for graduate study in biochemistry, where he worked in James Hopper's laboratory. Here he discusses his reasons for choosing Penn State, what the university was like, and his criteria for selecting Hopper's laboratory. He also talks about using yeast as a model system for gene regulation and expression, the running of the Hopper laboratory, and Hopper's mentoring style. He describes his graduate-school classes, his doctoral research in gene expression in Hopper's lab, and thesis defense. During this period of his life, Long also marries and has a daughter. Long accepted a postdoctoral fellowship with Robert Singer at University of Massachusetts Medical School; there his research centered on RNA localization. He discusses Singer's mentoring style and why Singer moved his lab to Albert Einstein Medical Center, where Long did another postdoc. Long interviewed for jobs at a number of universities and eventually chose Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He 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. He continues discussing his collaborations; his laboratory management style; how he writes grants; and his view of competition in science. Long next talks about his current research in gene expression studying the mechanisms of RNA localization in yeast; his role in the lab; and practical applications of his research. He expresses his opinion on such issues as setting the national science-funding agenda; patents; how to educate the public about science, the importance of doing so, and the scientist's role in that education; and gender and ethnic issues in science. Long details a typical work day. He concludes by discussing his wife and daughter and explaining how he attempts to balance family and career.

Education

Year Institution Degree Discipline
1985 Pennsylvania State University BS
1994 Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine PhD

Professional Experience

University of Massachusetts Medical Center

1994 to 1996
Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Cell Biology

Albert Einstein College of Medicine

1996 to 1998
Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Anatomy and Structural Biology

Medical College of Wisconsin

1998 to 2004
Assistant Professor, Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics
2004 to 2006
Associate Professor, Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics

Honors

Year(s) Award
1999 to 2002

Pew Scholars Program in the Biomedical Sciences

2000

March of Dimes Basil O'Connor Starter Research Award

Table of Contents

Early Years and Undergraduate and Graduate School
1

Early schooling. Attending high school in Lebanon, Pennsylvania. Influential teacher. Attends Pennsylvania State University (Penn State). Majors in molecular and cell biology. Family background. Religion. Decision to pursue scientific research rather than medicine. Meets and works in Ross Hardison's laboratory during college. Works as a technician in Alberto Manetta's laboratory. Attends Milton S. Hershey Medical School of Penn State for graduate study in biochemistry. Works in James E. Hopper's laboratory. Reasons for choosing Hershey Medical School for graduate school. Graduate program at Penn State. Criteria for selecting James E. Hopper's laboratory. Using yeast as a model system for gene regulation and expression. Reasons for becoming a principal investigator. Hopper's mentoring style. Long's mentoring style. College and graduate school classes. Doctoral research in gene expression in James E. Hopper's laboratory. Thesis defense.

Postdoctoral Work and Becoming a Principal Investigator
25

Postdoctoral fellowship with Robert H. Singer at University of Massachusetts Medical School. Research on RNA localization in Singer's laboratory. Singer's mentoring style. Move to Albert Einstein Medical Center. Setting up the Singer laboratory. Collaborations. Wife's career. Conducting scientific research. Running his laboratory. Setting up laboratory. Funding history. Pew Scholars Program in the Biomedical Sciences. Teaching responsibilities. Administrative duties. Collaborations in science. Laboratory management style. Grant-writing process.

Thoughts about Science and its Practice
51

Competition in science. Current research in gene expression studying the mechanisms of RNA localization in yeast. Role in the lab. More on collaborations and current research. Practical applications of research. Setting the national science agenda. Other careers Long would pursue. Setting the national science-funding agenda. Patents. Educating the public about science. Role of the scientist in educating the public about science. Gender and ethnic issues in science. Wife and daughter. Balancing family and career. Childhood experiences. Typical workday. Professional and personal goals.

Index
81

About the Interviewer

Karen A. Frenkel

Karen A. Frenkel is a writer, documentary producer, and author specializing in science and technology and their impacts on society. She wrote Robots: Machines in Man’s Image (Harmony 1985) with Isaac Asimov. Her articles have appeared in many magazines and newspapers including The New York TimesCyberTimesBusiness Week, Communications Magazine, DiscoverForbesNew Media, Personal Computing, Scientific American, Scientific American MIND, The Village Voice, and Technology Review. Ms. Frenkel’s award-winning documentary films, Net Learning and Minerva’s Machine: Women and Computing aired on Public Television. She has been an interviewer for Columbia University’s Oral History Research Center’s 9/11 Narrative and Memory project, The National Press Foundation’s Oral History of Women in Journalism, and the International Psychoanalytic Institute for Training and Research’s Oral History. Professional memberships include: The Authors Guild, National Association of Science Writers, Writer’s Guild of America East, and New York Women in Film and Television: Past Member of the Board and Director of Programming. Her website is www.Karenafrenkel.com.