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How far down does a blush go?


Joining the inhabitants of ‘Mount Olympus’
John Bonner Scientist
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What happened was that I was so enamoured with Professor William H Weston and his biology, and the way he did biology, and what he did in biology that I decided I want to work for him. But I wanted to do some things right away and so I said, 'Is there anything I can do during the summer which would go towards educating me?' And he said, 'Yes', he said, 'my old friend, William Randolph Taylor, teaches a course in Woods Hole on algae'.  And he said, 'Now, I will write to him and ask him if he can take you on'. And he came back and he said, he wrote back and said that only graduate students are allowed. He said, 'Let me work on him a bit, and see what I can do'. And I got admitted.

So here I was, very young, I had just finished my freshman year, and was surrounded by really… Woods Hole in those days was sort of like Mount Olympus. It had all these people who were really great, like Morgan, who had done something like put genetics on track. And so it was a big experience for me and I had a great time. I learned a lot about algae, not all of which I remember today, but it was really very nice.

But then I did meet there Dr [Edwin Grant] Conklin, who I got to know very well later on, who is a famous embryologist and many others like him and like Morgan. It was really quite a collection of stars or inhabitants of Mount Olympus, as I should say. And of course, I just loved it. I loved to go to the lectures and so forth. My father finally came down to check up on me and it was great. We got along very well and it was very, very nice.

John Tyler Bonner (born in 1920) is an emeritus professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Princeton University. He is a pioneer in the use of cellular slime molds to understand evolution and development and is one of the world's leading experts on cellular slime molds. He says that his prime interests are in evolution and development and that he uses the cellular slime molds as a tool to seek an understanding of those twin disciplines. He has written several books on developmental biology and evolution, many scientific papers, and has produced a number of works in biology. He has led the way in making Dictyostelium discoideum a model organism central to examining some of the major questions in experimental biology.

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: Woods Hole, Mount Olympus, William Weston, William Randolph Taylor, Edwin Conklin

Duration: 2 minutes, 33 seconds

Date story recorded: February 2016

Date story went live: 14 September 2016