Recorded: 17 Jul 2002
I did it in three. Four years is about right. One reason that it goes on longer, I think, is because it’s so hard to get money for postdoctoral research fellows. And so one becomes more and more dependent on getting the research done by graduate students, which is terrible! That’s the fault of the supportive postdoctoral fellowships.
There are some fields now, which are immensely supported in the health sciences. But the basic biology: NSF (National Science Foundation,) for example, has just pennies. So if you come out with some enormously fundamental idea of great importance in biology, but no immediate medical benefit, you go to NSF and you get pennies. Very sad!
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.