Joan Steitz on Lucky Jim
  Joan Steitz     Biography    
Recorded: 04 Aug 2003

Were lucky? Of course they [James Watson & Francis Crick] were lucky. Everything in science involves luck. You have to be in the right place at the right time. You have to arrange to put yourself in the right place at the right time in order to be lucky. I guess that’s another thing I’ve learned from Jim. That when something comes along and you realize that you were lucky you better do something about it. Oh, yes, yes. I mean students were selected on the basis of whether Jim thought they were smart enough to be around him. And others were sort of ignored on that basis, yeah. That was clear from the very start.

Joan Steitz is a prominent molecular biologist who earned her Ph.D. under Jim Watson at Harvard University in 1967. She joined the faculty at Yale University in 1970 and is currently the Sterling Professor of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry and the Director of the Molecular Genetics Program at the Boyer Center for Molecular Medicine at Yale. She is also an Investigator for the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Steitz’s research involves determining the structure and function of small RNA-protein complexes.

She has received numerous awards including the National Medal of Science (1986), the Weizmann Women and Science Award (1994), the Novartis Drew Award in Biomedical Research (1999), the UNESCO-L'Oréal Women in Science Award (2001), and the Lewis S. Rosenstiel Award for Distinguished Work in Basic Medical Research (2002).