Ron Plasterk on Advice for Presenting Scientific Information
  Ron Plasterk     Biography    
Recorded: 07 Jun 2004

A scientific paper should be written well. It’s clear that some people—Harold Varmus’s papers are written very well. They are a pleasure to read. That makes a difference. Even more of a difference, of course, it’s almost not fair the way it makes a difference, is how you present your work in seminars. So what I tell students in our program is that they should spend more time preparing their seminars and working on that because they will spend three months writing a paper, but then when they present a seminar, they will say, I don’t need to prepare because I’ve given the lecture before, which is not very clever because you are always talking by definition to a new audience and you have to think about who they are and what they want, what they can understand and what they want to know about. It’s hard to separate—I think if you read a paper you can still separate the writing from the author. You can still think, well this is a great scientist but this paper was not written very well. But the psychology works that way, that if you hear a talk and if the talk is lousy then you think that this is a lousy scientist. It is very difficult to separate the person from the talk he or she gives.

Ronald Plasterk, is a Dutch politician of the Labour Party and successful scientist and molecular genetics. He studied biology at the Leiden University and economics at the University of Amsterdam. In 1981 he received the Dutch doctorandus degree in biology. In 1984 he earned a doctorate in mathematics and natural sciences from the University of Leiden.

After receiving his Ph.D. he moved to California Institute of Technology in Pasadena and worked as a post-doc (1985-1986) on the transposon sequences in DNA in the parasite Borrelia hermsii. Plasterk was also a post-doc at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge (1986-1987) where he studied Caenorhabditis elegans, a nematode that is used as a model organism. His major area of research include genetics and functional genomics.

He came back to the Netherlands in 1987 and became a group leader and member of the board of the Netherlands Cancer Institute in Amsterdam. Between 1989 and 2000 he was director of the research school of oncology at the institute. From 1997 till 2000 he was professor of molecular genetics at the University of Amsterdam. In 2000 was appointed director of the Netherlands Institute for Developmental Biology (Hubrecht Laboratory) and at the same time he was a professor in developmental genetics at Utrecht University.

In February 2007 Ronald Plasterek was appointed minister of Education, Culture and Science in the fourth Balkenende government and he decided to end his scientific career. He held this position until February 2010. He is a member of the House of Representatives and Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences.

More Information: Wikipedia