Recorded: 20 Feb 2001
I did a postdoc first, after my Ph.D. I went to Berkeley. And, actually, it was the second time I'd gone to the US. I'd been an undergraduate at UCSF, a summer undergraduate, and that was quite fun, too. That was my first real experience in molecular biology. Then for my postdoc I worked on maize genetics, and actually that was the first time I worked on maize. I'd worked on wheat before. That was really exciting, when I first really learned how to apply the theory of genetics to a real organism, that you could do real genetic experiments with. That was very exciting, and transposable elements were really a key part of that. Actually I'd been working with transposable elements since my summer in San Francisco. Remarkably! And for my Ph.D., I worked on transposons in wheat and then in Berkeley I worked on "Mutator" transposons, which are a very active form of transposable element found in maize. So I came to Cold Spring Harbor in 1989 to continue work on that and also to follow up some other research that I'd started at Berkeley. I've been here ever since. [I’ve] gradually built a group studying genetics in both maize and Arabidopsis, now. Arabidopsis being the primo model plant these days.
Rob Martienssen is a plant molecular geneticist and professor at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. He received his Ph.D. from Cambridge University in 1986 and did postdoctoral research at the University of California, Berkeley.
As a young scientist, he worked closely with Barbara McClintock. He currently studies plant epigenetics and development using functional genomics. He was awarded the Kumho International Science Award in Plant Biology and Biotechnology (2001).