The information listed below is current as of the date the transcript was finalized.
Abstract of Interview
Hannele Ruohola-Baker was born in Kullaa, Finland—a small farming village—the younger of two siblings. Her mother was a banker who always had an interest in learning, though did not have many opportunities for education earlier in her life. Ruohola-Baker spent much time with her maternal grandparents, since they lived nearby, and played with her older brother and his friends in the surrounding forests. She was always goal-oriented and did well in school; Finland had a very diverse educational system that provided equal education in all subjects (as much time was devoted to music as to science, for example). The local church was central to the community and informed much of Ruohola-Baker's early life. She matriculated at the University of Helsinki, where Ruohola-Baker developed an interest in the study of molecules. A dynamic biochemistry professor, Ossi Renkonen, intrigued her and introduced her to the practice of scientific research; she joined his lab and began work on studying particular carbohydrates in proteins. She received her bachelor's and master's degrees from Helsinki and decided to pursue graduate school abroad, ultimately entering Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut. While transitioning to life in the United States and learning about American culture, Ruohola-Baker began her graduate research in Terry Platt's lab, but then moved into Susan Ferro-Novick's lab, developing an assay for cellular transport. As it turns out, David Baker, her future husband, was working on the same problem in Randy Schekman's lab at the University of California, Berkeley and both she and Baker developed the assay successfully on the same day. From Yale she went on to a brief visiting Fellowship at the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden, and to a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of California, San Francisco with Yuh Nung and Lily Jan. Ruohola-Baker moved away from protein secretion into the field of developmental biology, studying Drosophila and oogenesis. From there, she and her husband accepted principal investigator positions at the University of Washington, Seattle. At the end of the interview she discusses her current research on cell polarity in Drosophila and possible applications of her research; the National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding process; writing articles; balancing work and family responsibilities; and a typical workday. Ruohola-Baker concludes with thoughts on the nature of competition and collaboration in science; the national science agenda; the privatization of scientific research; gender issues and questions of race in science; and the impact of the Pew Scholars Program in the Biomedical Sciences award on her work.
|1984||University of Helsinki||BA|
|1989||University of Helsinki||MSc||Biochemistry|
|1993||University of California, San Francisco||PhD||Cell Biology|
University of California, San Francisco
University of Washington
|1986 to 1989||
Nordic Yeast Research Program Predoctoral Fellowship
Academy of Sciences Award (Finland)
Predoctoral award from the Oskar Oflund Foundation
|1989 to 1991||
EMBO Postdoctoral Fellowship
|1992 to 1994||
ACS Senior Postdoctoral Fellowship
|1995 to 1997||
Basil O'Connor Starter Scholar Research Award
|1995 to 2000||
American Heart Association Established Investigatorship Award
|1996 to 2000||
Pew Scholars Program in the Biomedical Sciences Grant
Table of Contents
Family background. Childhood interests and experiences in Kullaa, Finland. Early schooling. The Finnish educational system. Influential teachers. Junior high and high school experiences. Decision to leave Kullaa. First interest in biology. Religion. Church as a community organization.
Transition from high school to college. Helsinki, Finland. The University of Helsinki. Interest in the study of molecules. Ossi Renkonen. Her first laboratory experiments. Interest in protein secretion. Yale University. Impressions of the United States. Transition into the Terry Platt lab. Assay for cellular transport. David Baker.
Susan Ferro-Novick. Move away from protein secretion to developmental biology questions. The Yuh Nung and Lily Jan lab at the University of California, San Francisco. Brief time at the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research. The study of Drosophila. Oogenesis. Decision to accept principal investigator position at the University of Washington, Seattle.
Challenges in establishing her lab. Current research on cell polarity inDrosophila. Possible applications of her research. Teaching responsibilities. Grant writing. National Institutes of Health funding process.
Article writing. Lab management style. NIH study sections. Balancing work and family responsibilities. Leisure activities. Competition and collaboration in science. Privatization of scientific research. Patents. Gender issues. The Pew Scholars Program in the Biomedical Sciences.