Daniel P. Raleigh

Born: September 25, 1958 | Arcata, CA, US

Daniel P. Raleigh grew up in Arcata, California. He attended Humboldt State University, and was pushed by an excellent faculty member towards chemistry. He loved math, but he felt he lacked the spark" to be an original mathematician. Raleigh attended graduate school at Massachusetts Institute of Technology; there he joined Robert G. Griffin's laboratory, where he became interested in biological problems, which he pursued during a biochemistry postdoc at University of Oxford. When at State University New York, Stony Brook, he immediately established his lab, developing his own form of management and mentoring. He has purposely chosen to avoid corporate funding. He is interested in the history of science, as he feels it important to place scientific findings in broader context. When not working, he focuses his time on environmental causes."

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Interview Details

Interview no.: Oral History 0629
No. of pages: 98
Minutes: 350

Interview Sessions

Helene L. Cohen
24-25 April 2001
State University of New York at Stony Brook, Stony Brook, New York

Abstract of Interview

Daniel P. Raleigh grew up in Arcata, California, the youngest of four children. His father was a professor at Humboldt State University, his mother a homemaker who had also been a teacher. In addition, all three siblings went into education. Raleigh spent much of his free time outdoors, even for reading. He attended Humboldt State University's laboratory elementary school and then junior high and high school in Arcata, California, public schools, remembering his education as being rather uninspiring, except for mathematics. His extracurricular activities focused on the outdoors: hiking, camping, and the like. He attended Humboldt State, interested in both mathematics and science at first, but an excellent chemistry faculty member inspired him to pursue chemistry. He loved math too and could have majored in it, but he felt he lacked the "spark" to be an original mathematician. Raleigh decided to do graduate studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; there he joined Robert G. Griffin's laboratory, feeling that Humboldt's strong chemistry faculty had prepared him well for graduate studies. While working in Griffin's lab Raleigh developed new theoretical and technical methods and became interested in applying his methodologies to biological problems. For that reason he chose Christopher Dobson's lab at University of Oxford for postdoctoral work in biochemistry. While he was there he met his future wife, Clare P. Grey. Partly from frustration with the relative lack of resources at British universities Raleigh and Grey decided to seek positions in the United States. A postdoc at DuPont Merck Company convinced Raleigh that he did not want to be in a corporate research environment. Like most two-career couples, Raleigh and Grey found that obtaining positions together was challenging; they accepted positions at the State University New York, Stony Brook. He immediately undertook establishing his lab, developing his own form of lab management and mentoring, while at the same time taking on administrative tasks. He purposely chose to avoid corporate funding sources, preferring the freedom offered under traditional funding in the United States. Given the nature of Stony Brook's academic environment, when Raleigh was not writing journal articles or teaching he developed seminar courses for undergraduates, discussing at length the differences between teaching undergraduate and graduate students. He is interested in the history of science, as he feels it is important to place scientific findings in a broader context. Although an academic career afforded a great degree of flexibility, balancing personal life and career has been a challenge for Raleigh. When not working, he committed himself to some environmental causes, though he admitted that he loves his work so much that he feels no sacrifice at having so little free time. His current research centers on conformational changes in proteins, and he talks a little about the practical aspects of his work. He answers the interviewers questions about patents; serendipity in science; the roles of competition and collaboration in science; ethics in science; the importance of overseeing students' work to ensure accuracy and integrity; and the problems inherent in regulating science. The interview ends with a proclamation of Raleigh's professional satisfaction; a discussion of his personal goals; and reflections on his career choices. 

Education

Year Institution Degree Discipline
1981 Humboldt State University BA Chemistry and Mathematics
1988 Massachusetts Institute of Technology PhD Chemistry

Professional Experience

University of Oxford

1988 to 1991
Postdoctoral Fellow, Biophysics

DuPont Merck Pharmaceutical Company

1991 to 1994
Postdoctoral Fellow, Structural Biology

State University of New York at Stony Brook

1994 to 1999
Assistant Professor, Department of Chemistry
1999 to 2002
Associate Professor, Department of Chemistry
1999 to 2002
Director of Graduate Education, Department of Chemistry

Honors

Year(s) Award
1981

American Institute of Chemists Award

1983 to 1985

NSF Graduate Fellowship

1985

Sigma Xi

1988

NATO Fellowship (Declined)

1988 to 1991

Helen Hay Whitney Foundation Fellowship

1995 to 2000

Pew Scholar in the Biomedical Sciences

1996 to 2000

National Science Foundation CAREER (Faculty Early Career Development Program) Award

Table of Contents

Early Years and College
1

Family background. Childhood interests and experiences. Interest in reading and outdoor activities. Attends Humboldt State University's laboratory elementary school. Junior high and high school in Arcata, California, public schools. Extracurricular activities. Chooses to pursue chemistry rather than mathematics at Humboldt State University. Faculty at Humboldt State. Decides to do graduate studies at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

Graduate Work and Postdoctoral Years
15

Joins Robert G. Griffin's laboratory at MIT. Humboldt's strong chemistry faculty prepared students well for graduate studies. Pedigrees in science. Financial arrangements while at college. Develops new theoretical and technical methods while working in Griffin's lab. Interest in applying methodologies tobiological problems. Chooses Christopher M. Dobson's lab at University of Oxford for postdoctoral work in biochemistry. Meets his future wife, Clare P. Grey, while at Oxford. British universities. Seeking position in the United States. Postdoc at DuPont-Merck Company. Corporate employment.

Faculty Years
29

Challenge of seeking a position as half of a two-career couple. Positions at State University New York, Stony Brook. Tenure. Women and science faculties. Lab management style. Stony Brook students. Mentoring students. Administrativetasks. Structure of Stony Brook's graduate chemistry program. Funding. Grant-writing process. Corporate funding. Writing journal articles. Teaching. Developing a seminar course for undergraduates. Differences between teaching undergraduate and graduate students. Interest in the history of science. Importance of placing scientific findings in a broader context.

Scientific Responsibilities
55

Childhood extracurricular activities. Diversity at Stony Brook. Higher education in New York. Duties as the chemistry department graduate coordinator. Other administrative responsibilities. Reviewing journal articles. Reviewing funding proposals for the National Science Foundation and National Institutes of Health. Attendance at professional conferences. Role in the lab. Grading student work. Balancing personal life and career.

The Scientific Life
69

Flexibility afforded by an academic career. Work schedule. Leisure activities. Current research on conformational changes in proteins. Importance of scientists communicating with the general public. Practical aspects of research. Theoretical problem of patenting scientific discoveries. Competition and collaboration with other scientists. Ethics in science. Overseeing students' workto ensure accuracy and integrity. Regulating science. Professional satisfaction. Personal goals. Reflections on his career choices.

Index
96

About the Interviewer

Helene L. Cohen