Matthew Meselson on Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
  Matthew Meselson     Biography    
Recorded: 17 Jul 2002

I don’t think I’ve been there more than about six times. I have really not had much interaction with Cold Spring Harbor Lab.

Well, even in the Demerec period for my own little interest—or big interest, whatever size. There was Max, there was Al Hershey, there was Salva, in the summertime, Luria. This was the best period. It was never better from my point of view because, not because of Cold Spring Harbor, but because that was the time of great work. Seymour Benzer came. Later a great river separated into many tributaries.

I was certainly there a couple of times when John [Cairns] was director. I don’t think I went there in order to visit him. I think that every one of the few times I went to Cold Spring it was because of some scientific conference or event there.

The phage meetings were superb! There was plenty of time for discussion. There was no inhibition about getting up and interrupting people. It was awful hot and steamy in that room, but that’s okay. I’ve never minded the hot, humid weather.

They were wonderful meetings because they really did bring together people who were intensely interested and intensely interacting and not so many or such a crowded schedule that you couldn’t explore a subject.

The big symposia: I don’t remember them—I’m no expert on this, let me say. My memory of them is that they were not quite as wonderful as the phage meetings, but that they were still—these were very early days, though. They still had this quality of being real communication, not just the ten minutes with no discussion. That’s very important to have that.

Matthew Meselson earned his Ph.D. degrees from the University of Chicago in 1951 and from the California Institute of Technology in 1957 under the tutelage of Linus Pauling.

In 1958 with Frank Stahl, Meselson experimentally showed the semi-conservative mechanism of DNA replication as predicted by Watson and Crick.

He is currently the Thomas Dudley Cabot Professor of the Natural Sciences in Harvard University's Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology. His laboratory studies sexual reproduction and genetic recombination, and how and why they are maintained in evolution.

Since 1963 Meselson has been interested in chemical and biological defense and arms control, has served as a consultant on this subject to various government agencies and is a member of the Committee on International Security and Arms Control of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences.

Meselson has received the Award in Molecular Biology from the National Academy of Sciences, the Public Service Award of the Federation of American Scientists, the Presidential Award of the New York Academy of Sciences, the Scientific Freedom and Responsibility Award of the American Association of the Advancement of Science, and the 1995 Thomas Hunt Morgan Medal of the Genetics Society of America. Dr. Meselson is presently a member of the Committee on International Security and Arms Control of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences.