Paul Doty on Teaching & Research
  Paul Doty     Biography    
Recorded: 22 Jul 2003

Well, I think the ability to teach in a classroom and the ability to run a productive and inspired research group are two different things. And sometimes they’re combined in the same person and that’s very nice, but often they’re not. So I tried hard at teaching but I wasn’t a particularly good teacher, but I did compensate, I hope, in running my laboratory and the hundred or so people that went through there that I’m pleased with and I don’t remember very much of the students I had in class.

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.