Recorded: 31 May 2003
Well, most scientific meetings are held in awful hotels. You know, big ones. They are held in a Marriott somewhere. It’s a nice place to be. You had the woods, sea. But it’s also a center where very good science is being done all the time. And I know the people at the lab get really fed up in the summer because there are so many people coming in for meetings all the time and get disturbed. But it does have a truly academic feel about it. And that’s true of Hinxton to a certain extent. That’s true of Woods Hole Marine Lab. But the great majority of scientific meetings now are either held in big, in the city hotels. And these hotels are awful. Town and Country in San Diego, it’s a real ghastly place, or they’re held on big campuses where there’s an academic environment. You don’t get any feeling that you are in an academic environment here. You’re just in some meetings rooms.
And generally the meetings here—they’re always quite small. You know, four hundred is a big meeting here. Whereas if you go to a big national meeting there can be a thousand or fifteen hundred people there. So they’re much more intimate. So, it’s just very nice.
It has its eccentricity, like Jim who gets up and talks to people. I think that makes a lot of people excited, you know, especially young people who can look at this god.
Michael Ashburner, a leader in Drosophila Genetics and bioinformatics, received his B.A. (1964), M.A. (1968), Ph.D. (1968) and Sc.D. (1978) from the University of Cambridge, where he is currently professor of Biology in the Department of Genetics and a Professional Fellow of Churchill College.
He has been the joint head of European Bioinformatics Institute (EBI), of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) and was co-founder of Flybase, the primary online database for Drosophila genetics and molecular biology, the Gene Ontology Consortium, an effort to coordinate biological databases through a defined taxonomy of gene function, and the Crete Meetings, a bi-annual event focusing on the developmental and molecular biology of Drosophila melanogaster.
Among many honors, he is the recipient of the G.J. Mendel Medal (Czech Republic 1998) and the George W. Beadle Medal (Genetics Society of America 1999).