Monica L. Vetter
The information listed below is current as of the date the transcript was finalized.
Abstract of Interview
Monica L. Vetter grew up in Markham, Ontario, Canada, the eldest of three siblings. Vetter's father worked for Honeywell and in the computer industry generally—and was gifted musically—and her mother was a nurse who, later in life, founded the Head Injury Association of Toronto, in part in response to a family tragedy. Vetter's parents provided her with access to all the things typical of childhood: gymnastics, swimming, and piano lessons; she loved reading, spending much time in the library, playing soccer, and having fun with her brothers outdoors. She entered McGill University, deciding to major in biosciences. Her interest in science led to several summers spent in various academic labs working on muscle contraction at the University of Ottawa, motor cortex and motor control in primates at the University of Toronto, and eye movements and the neural control of eye movements at McGill. Wanting to experience the academic world beyond the confines of the traditional Canadian/American school systems, Vetter spent a year abroad at the Free University in Berlin, Germany. During her time there, she applied to and was accepted at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), where she conducted research in the lab of J. Michael Bishop on molecular genetics and signaling pathways in neuronal cells. She remained at UCSF to undertake a postdoctoral position in Yuh Nung Jan's laboratory focusing on ath5 transcription factor and the regulation of the initial events in vertebrate retinal neural development. From there she accepted a faculty appointment at the University of Utah, developing her research on retinal neurogenesis. At the end of the interview, Vetter talks about the biomedical revolution and her decision to pursue academic research rather than work in industry; the issue of patents; her interest in the history of science; and the role of the scientist in scientific public policy and literacy. She concludes with thoughts about the impact of the Pew Scholars Program in the Biomedical Sciences award on her work and the process of conducting scientific research.
|1994||University of California, San Francisco||PhD||Neuroscience|
University of California, San Francisco
University of Utah, School of Medicine
|1982 to 1986||
R.E. Powell Entrance Scholarship, McGill University
University of Ottawa Summer Research Scholarship
NSERC Summer Research Award, University of Toronto
|1985 to 1986||
Miriam Hills Scholarship, McGill University
University Scholar, McGill University
Governor General’s Gold Medal, Faculty of Science, McGill University
|1988 to 1993||
Howard Hughes Predoctoral Fellowship
|1998 to 2002||
Pew Scholars Award
Table of Contents
Growing up in Markham, Ontario, Canada. Family background. Parents. Brothers. Interests. Early schooling. Parental expectations. Attends McGill University in Montreal, Canada. Studies in Berlin, Germany.
Attends graduate school at University of California, San Francisco. College experiences at McGill University. Experiences at Free University of Berlin in Germany. Graduate research with J. Michael Bishop. Religion. Husband. Children. Graduate research in molecular genetics on signaling pathways in neuronal cells. Postdoctoral work in Yuh Nung Jan's laboratory on ath5 transcription factor and regulation of the initial events in vertebrate retinal neural development.
More on ath5 and transcription factor regulation of vertebrate retinal neurogenesis. Typical day in the J. Michael Bishop laboratory. Gender issues in science. Yuh Nung Jan's mentoring style. Accepts a position at the University of Utah. Settingup lab. Current research in the molecular developmental biology of retinal neurogenesis. Practical applications. Administrative duties. Teaching responsibilities. Qualities of a good scientist. Travel commitments. Funding history. Grant-writing process. Laboratory management style. Writing journal articles. Duties to professional community. Balancing family and career. Leisure activities. A typical workday. Decision to pursue academic research rather than industry.
Patents. History of science. Tenure at University of Utah. Competition and collaboration in science. Criteria for prioritizing research projects. Setting the national scientific agenda. Role of the scientist in scientific public policy and literacy. Privatization of scientific research. Percentage of women as graduate students and principal investigators (PIs). Pew Scholars Program in the Biomedical Sciences.