Mahlon Hoagland on On Being an Effective Teacher
  Mahlon Hoagland     Biography    
Recorded: 08 Jun 2006

I think its almost built into your DNA. I like to talk about it. I think one of the biggest factors is that you enjoy talking about science. It clearly isn’t enough. I’ve always been interested in and responsive to student’s questions and the kinds of things that come in an interaction with students. Again you have the same experience with a technician in the laboratory and I’ve always enjoyed those experiences. That was almost separate from the research itself. I have two daughters and a son all of whom tell me that I wasn’t a particularly good father but I was a wonderful stimulator of asking them questions and making them think about answers. Maybe it goes back as early as that. I just don’t know. I’m here today with my daughter who is a wonderful teacher herself. Her sister is also a teacher. So maybe there is a genetic element.

Mahlon Hoagland, a molecular biologist who was one of the discoverer of the transfer ribonucleic acid - tRNA. He received a medical degree from Harvard Medical School in 1948. He served as a doctor during the Second World War. When the War ended he returned to Harvard and became researcher in the Huntington Laboratories at the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. He worked in the bacteriology and immunology department of Harvard Medical School from 1952 till 1967.

Working together with Paul Zamecnik and Elizabeth Keller he discovered the initial steps of protein synthesis. Two years later in 1958 Hoagland and Zemecnik discovered tRNA. His main input to the laboratory was in his work with amino acid activating enzymes. He noticed that certain enzymes were required to activate amino acids so they could combine with tRNA molecules and eventually be incorporated into new protein molecules. These enzymes were named aminoacyl tRNA synthetases.

In 1957 Hoagland moved to Cambridge where he worked for a year with Crick at Cambridge University. Working together they tried to explain the genetic code. He was Associate Professor of Microbiology at Harvard Medical School and in 1967 was appointed professor in the biochemistry department at the Dartmouth Medical School. After 3 years he left Dartmouth and became Director and President of the Worcester Foundation for Experimental Biology in Massachusetts. He retired in 1985.

Mahlon Hoagland was awarded the Franklin Medal for life science. He was a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the US National Academy of Sciences. He died on September 19, 2009.

More Information: Wikipedia