James Kent on Becoming a Scientist
  James Kent     Biography    
Recorded: 31 May 2003

I don’t know. I’ve kind of always been interested in science, but I got a master’s degree in math, I guess, in about ’82. And I guess math isn’t strictly speaking science. And then I went into software development for quite some time.

So, I guess it was in maybe ’95 [or] ’96 that I decided to go back into biology. So I went to a community college for a year, then the University of California extension for a year, and then I went to grad school in biology.

Jim Kent is a research scientist at the University of California, Santa Cruz's Center for Biomolecular Science and Engineering. After a stint working in the computer animation industry, he entered the Molecular, Cell, and Developmental Biology Ph.D. program at Santa Cruz. While completing his degree, he became increasingly interested in bioinformatics. Concurrently, the human genome was being sequenced, accumulating in the databases and was scheduled to be released in one month’s time—however, still no technology was in place to assemble its many sequences. In one month, Jim Kent created a computer program called the GigAssembler and computationally compiled for the first time, the entire human genome so that it could be released to the public at its intended deadline.

Jim Kent focuses on understanding the way in which genes are turned on and off to create varying outcomes.

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