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Blossoming intellectually at Erasmus Hall


How I got into Harvard
Eric Kandel Scientist
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I had girlfriends. I did very well in school and I was particularly good in history. And I caught the attention of a history teacher whose class I never had, but he substituted sometimes, and for a while he acted as chairman of the history department, by the name of John Campana. When I was graduating, he asked me where I was planning to go to college. And I said I was planning to go to Brooklyn College. That’s where my brother initially went, before he went to Brown to graduate school.

And I said it’s a very good school, and I was planning to go to Brooklyn College. He said, ‘Have you ever thought of Harvard?’ I said, ‘No’. He said, ‘Why don’t you apply to Harvard?’ So I discussed it with my parents, my father said, ‘Look, we just put out some money to apply to Brooklyn College, we really don’t have a lot of money. You should go to Brooklyn College.’ So I said this to Mr Campana, and he gave me the money to apply to Harvard, and I got into Harvard. So did Ronnie Berman. So the two of us were the only ones accepted.

Eric Kandel (b. 1929) is an American neuropsychiatrist. He was a recipient of the 2000 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his research on the physiological basis of memory storage in neurons. He shared the prize with Arvid Carlsson and Paul Greengard. Kandel, who had studied psychoanalysis, wanted to understand how memory works. His mentor, Harry Grundfest, said, 'If you want to understand the brain you're going to have to take a reductionist approach, one cell at a time.' Kandel then studied the neural system of the sea slug Aplysia californica, which has large nerve cells amenable to experimental manipulation and is a member of the simplest group of animals known to be capable of learning. Kandel is a professor of biochemistry and biophysics at the College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia University. He is also Senior Investigator in the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. He was the founding director of the Center for Neurobiology and Behavior, which is now the Department of Neuroscience at Columbia University. Kandel's popularized account chronicling his life and research, 'In Search of Memory: The Emergence of a New Science of Mind', was awarded the 2006 Los Angeles Times Book Award for Science and Technology.

Listeners: Christopher Sykes

Christopher Sykes is an independent documentary producer who has made a number of films about science and scientists for BBC TV, Channel Four, and PBS.

Tags: Harvard University, Brooklyn College, John Campana

Duration: 1 minute, 7 seconds

Date story recorded: June 2015

Date story went live: 04 May 2016