Episode 2

Professor George Church

Geneticist, Harvard Medical School

George McDonald Church is an American geneticist, molecular engineer, and chemist. He is the Robert Winthrop Professor of Genetics at Harvard Medical School, Professor of Health Sciences and Technology at Harvard and MIT, and a founding member of the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering. As of March 2017, Church serves as a member of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists' Board of Sponsors.

Church is known for his professional contributions in the sequencing of genomes and interpreting such data, in synthetic biology and genome engineering, and in an emerging area of neuroscience that proposes to map brain activity and establish a "functional connectome." Among these, Church is known for pioneering the specialized fields of personal genomics and synthetic biology.



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Time-Life series on Nature & Science, 51 volumes total, 1965

Between the ages of 11-17, George was dyslexic and so the illustrations were very motivating and helpful. 25 years later, he bought a used set for his daughter and she bought a copy for her daughters 25 years after that.

Luther Burbank

Luther Burbank (March 7, 1849 – April 11, 1926) was an American botanist, horticulturist and pioneer in agricultural science. He developed more than 800 strains and varieties of plants over his 55-year career. Burbank's varied creations included fruits, flowers, grains, grasses, and vegetables.

George Washington Carver

The African American agricultural scientist invented more than 300 products from the peanut plant. George Washington Carver is known for his work with peanuts (though he did not invent peanut butter, as some may believe) Who Was George Washington Carver?

George Washington Carver was born enslaved and went on to become one of the most prominent scientists and inventors of his time, as well as a teacher at the Tuskegee Institute. Carver devised over 100 products using one major crop — the peanut — including dyes, plastics and gasoline.

Marie Curie

Marie Skłodowska Curie, born Maria Salomea Skłodowska, was a Polish and naturalized-French physicist and chemist who conducted pioneering research on radioactivity. As the first of the Curie family legacy of five Nobel Prizes, she was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize, the first person and the only woman to win the Nobel Prize twice, and the only person to win the Nobel Prize in two scientific fields. (Wikipedia)

The Bible KJV

One of George's mentors showed him a copy with a bullet hole part way through from when he was a WWII minister.

Basic Programming by John G. Kemeny, Thomas E. Kurtz · 1967

At the age of 14, George read this not as part of any class.

I Robot by Isaac Asimov 1950

At the age of 16, this included some quirky engineering & ethics issues and reinforced George's impressions about computers from the NYC World's Fair in 1964.

A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving 1989

At the age of 36, George read this book and his daughter read it a few years later at age of 5-6.