March 2012

Readers talk back

A ‘mad race to the finish,’ February 2012
This is a typically erudite and eloquent series of reflections by Phil Leder, a scientist of tremendous talent and accomplishment. However, in setting up the interview, Rajendrani Mukhopadhyay might have inadvertently given some readers the impression that the number of nucleotides in the codon was unknown in 1962. The triplet nature of the genetic code had been discovered by Francis Crick and Sydney Brenner a year earlier (in the only hands-on bench science Crick ever did and an intellectual achievement far greater than getting the double helix with Jim Watson). Leder's catalytic role in the early coding race was to develop a beautiful assay system that accelerated getting most of the codons beyond that for phenylalanine, a gigantic step and one that took (Marshall W.) Nirenberg to Stockholm.
Thoru Pederson, University of Massachusetts Medical School 

Learning military lingo, January 2012
One of the chief benefits of Dr. (Emily) Heuring's work is the ability to take military operational concerns into the scientific community. That new widget for detecting nerve agent is not going to be operated in a laboratory. It's going to be operated in an incredibly contaminated environment of vehicle exhaust, burning tires, explosive residue and toxic wastes -- typical of war zones. The reverse is also true; she helps the military understand the capabilities and limitations of new and very sophisticated systems. Keep up the good work and getting your boots muddy. You are keeping our sons and daughters, soldiers all, alive on future battlefields.

Surviving a bioscience Ph.D., January 2012
This article makes many great points many … I wish I had read while I was in graduate school. In particular, it is critical to realize whether you are a person that requires a hands-on guided adviser or one that prefers and works well with full independence.

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