Recorded: 22 Jul 2003
Well, I talked to him mostly about the developments in biology here at Harvard. And he was the sanest active member of the faculty on thinking about how that should go. The whole situation is in turmoil.
And he has a great offer from Columbia. I hope he doesn’t take it. But it’s a very volatile scene. His judgment I would hate to lose because it’s going to—in ten years be in a completely form. What form that will be will be helped enormously if he were here.
He’s an extremely good judge of people and of the importance of different directions in science. He has a real grasp of the whole scene.
Paul Doty (1920-2011), biophysical chemist and activist was an emeritus professor at Harvard University in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences and in the Kennedy School of Government. He was also founder of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, and the Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard. Experimenting with isotope separation as a graduate student at Columbia University, he became an advocate for nuclear war prevention. Subsequently, he served as a consultant to the President’s Science Advisory Committee and as a member of the President’s Arms Control Advisory Group.
Doty’s scientific research is focused on elucidating the structure and function of large molecules by optical methods. Responsible for hybridizing single strands of DNA to reform an active double-stranded molecule, his laboratory work helped provide the basis for DNA recombination.
Doty met Jim in 1952 in Cambridge. Four years later he had encouraged Jim to join the Harvard Faculty. Their combined insight and innovation was crucial in determining the fate of the newly created molecular biology department. Doty remained on the Harvard Faculty for over forty-two years.