Gerald Rubin on Teaching Science
  Gerald Rubin     Biography    
Recorded: 30 May 2003

Well, I mean, there’s different kinds of teaching. And I’ve never really liked lecturing to big, you know, classrooms of two hundred people. I’ve always liked teaching more in laboratory classes or teaching like a graduate student and interacting with them and having a relationship with the student. And then it’s very emotionally satisfying to see your students and see them grow and be involved in their lives and see what they’re doing ten or twenty years later. And likewise, when I look at who my teachers were. I was very fortunate in having a lot of good, you know, teachers. And so, David Botstein, who was my undergraduate advisor when I was at MIT, once said to me, I think, of course if he really believes this, he said, you know, " I look at my career, I look at my papers and that’s fine, but what really matters to me is all the people that I’ve trained as students and how well they’ve done and that’s how I’ve had my biggest influence on science." So David Botstein, who was my undergraduate advisor, was one of these people who clearly got great pleasure out of mentoring people and training people. And I was fortunate to have, you know, many of these people in my career.

And Ray Gesteland, whose lab I worked in when I was an undergraduate. When I got married, I’ve been married twenty five years now this month, when I was dating my wife I actually brought her to meet Ray and his wife, Harriett to get their approval rather than to my parents to meet my wife. Because I felt that kind of—I valued his advice. I felt that closeness to him that I should bring her to meet Ray to see if Ray liked her and if Harriett liked her.

So I was very fortunate to have people very early on in my scientific career who I felt were friends, who were really interested in me and involved in, you know, my work.

And it’s true when I worked here, and it was like a real family atmosphere in this place. It was just very, you know, unusual. So I felt very lucky in my career to have these experiences like I had here at Cold Spring Harbor. And to have advisors like David Botstein who were really interested, and they’re better people than I am probably as far as their being mentors to students try in my own way to, you know, help my students in that way. But it’s much easier to do that, you can’t do that if you’re in the lecture hall with two hundred students, you never get to know them. You can only know them if you know them as people and as—

Gerald Rubin is a geneticist, molecular and cell biologist. As Director of the Berkeley Drosophila Genome Project, he led the sequencing of the entire fruit fly genome. Currently, as Vice President and Director of the Janelia Farm Research Campus at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute in Ashburn, Virginia, his research focus is on developing the biological and computer tools that are capable of analyzing and displaying the vast amount of information available from the genomic DNA sequencing of the fruit fly. He uses these advanced techniques to decipher gene regulation and expression at a genome-wide level in Drosophila and determine the function of certain fruit fly genes.

Gerald Rubin is also a professor of Genetics and Development at the University of California, Berkeley. He came to Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory as an URP (Undergraduate Research Program) in the early 70’s working under Lionel Crawford and Ray Gesteland before moving to Cambridge to earn his Ph.D. in molecular biology. He did postdoctoral work at Stanford University School of Medicine and became an assistant professor of biological chemistry at Harvard Medical School prior to commencing his genetics professorship at Berkeley in 1983.

Gerald Rubin is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the Institute of Medicine. Among the awards he has received is the American Chemical Society Eli Lilly Award in biological chemistry.