Colorful characters

Nobel laureates convey wisdom and whimsy
with impromptu sketches of their prize-winning work

An exhibition last month at the University of California, Davis, featured the Nobel prize-winning work of four members of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.

The “ Sketches of Science: Photo Sessions with Nobel Laureates” exhibition at the Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts displayed drawings in crayon by Nobel laureates and photographs of the scientists holding their renderings. German photographer Volker Steger took the photos over several years, often at the annual Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings in Germany.

“All the laureates I met for a photo shoot were quite surprised by my exceptional request, because I did not inform them beforehand,” Steger said in a statement. “The idea was to get something spontaneous. The sketches turned out to be as varied as the Nobel laureates who drew them. But they all equally demonstrate the beauty of intellectual concepts — and of minds at work.”

Here we’ve highlighted the four ASBMB members who participated.

Brian Kobilka of Stanford University, who won the 2012 prize in chemistry with Robert J. Lefkowitz of Duke University, attended the opening ceremony for the exhibition. Kobilka and Lefkowitz won the prize for their studies of G-protein-coupled receptors.

Peter Agre of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health won the Nobel prize in chemistry in 2003 for the discovery of water channels. Agre shared the prize with Roderick MacKinnon, who won for his structural and mechanistic studies of ion channels.

Edmond H. Fischer, professor emeritus at the University of Washington, won the prize in physiology or medicine with Edwin G. Krebs in 1992. The Nobel committee cited “their discoveries concerning reversible protein phosphorylation as a biological regulatory mechanism.”

Thomas A. Steitz of Yale University won the Nobel prize in chemistry in 2009 for his studies of the structure and function of the ribosome. He shared the prize with Venkatraman Ramakrishnan and Ada E. Yonath.

Images courtesy of Volker Steger/Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings

Angela Hopp Angela Hopp is editor of ASBMB Today.