Ron Plasterk on Winship Herr, Dean, Watson School of Biological Sciences
  Ron Plasterk     Biography    
Recorded: 07 Jun 2004

One of the interesting students we had in the course was Winship Herr who actually was at that time starting the graduate program. So he was very busy. And it’s very difficult to take a course in your own place. I’ve seen that in my own place since then, because if you go and take a course somewhere else, you know you’re just not there for two weeks in your own lab and everybody knows that. But if it is on your own campus then there’s the—people always want to come over and talk to you and check the—the secretary wants to go through the mail and all that. He was actually trying to be very good. Now of course I think Winship is trying to be very good in general. You know, he must have been the best of his primary school class and the best of his high school class. So he was always, “Excuse me, I didn’t quite understand…” And he’s always asking the right question. He was just very good and in the course actually he was a role model for many in the sense that he would not be—I think he came into his office at 7 o’clock in the morning, did his mail, and then 8 o’clock in the morning he was in the course and he was there just trying to learn about things.

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