As an undergraduate ‘pre-med’ student at Brandeis University, my major was molecular biology. I completed my senior thesis with a brilliant professor named Mike Rosbash who taught my genetics class. After graduation, I stayed in his lab, taking a year off doing experiments while applying to medical school. The work wasn’t glamorous – aside from my experiments I cleaned glassware and took care of hundreds of frogs that we used as sources for DNA and RNA for our work.
Mike was an amazing guy, storming around the lab puffing on his pipe, carrying test tubes and talking science. His thought process was so quick and complex that when he spoke I had to sit down and take an hour or two to figure out what he said. As I did with many of my professors who left an impression on me, I sketched him. As the years passed I traded my biology books for medical texts, and kept my sketchbooks in storage.
So this week a fellow Brandeis grad asked me, “Did you know we had two Nobel Prize winners this year?” To my delighted surprise I learned that one winner was none other than my senior thesis advisor, Michael Rosbash. The category was Physiology or Medicine, and his work was on genes that controlled the biologic clock, also known as circadian rhythms, and how physiology changes with different phases of the day.
I remembered that I sketched him, and went straight to my storage bin to find it. It was just where I thought it was, and after 42 years in a box I scanned it, proudly posting it above. I think I conveyed his character and determination. It’s also a testament to the importance of keeping sketchbooks!
So now I need to rethink the memories of my time at Brandeis. Back then my priority was becoming a physician. Reaching that goal required immersion in science, but I never imagined that I would have a brush with greatness along the way. Mike Rosbash taught me intellectual diligence and dedication to the quest for scientific truth. Congratulations Mike for this incredible and impressive accomplishment. I hope you are pleased with this sketch!
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