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This interview originally aired on The Green Room, a program broadcast on WFMU (91.1 New Jersey) and produced, hosted and solely owned by Dorian Devins, licensed through Science Matters, Inc. (25 minutes)
Bruce Alberts is known for his work in both biochemistry and molecular biology, particularly for his molecular analyses of the protein complexes that allow chromosomes to be replicated—a process required for a living cell to divide. Alberts is one of the principal authors of The Molecular Biology of the Cell, considered the field's leading advanced textbook and used widely in U.S. colleges and universities. Born in Chicago, Alberts graduated from Harvard College with a degree in biochemical sciences and earned a doctorate from Harvard University in 1965. He joined the faculty of Princeton University in 1966 and after 10 years moved to the Medical School of the University of California, San Francisco. He was awarded an American Cancer Society Lifetime Research Professorship in 1980, and in 1985 he was named chair of the department of biochemistry and biophysics. Alberts was president of the Academy from 1993 to 2005.
Alberts talks about making the transition from research and academia to the world of public policy in Washington, D.C. A major challenge for the scientific community is to help more people understand, appreciate, and use methods of science in their lives and to improve the teaching of science in schools, he says. He also describes the National Academy of Sciences' grass-roots efforts to produce the National Science Education Standards and the need to support the professional development of teachers throughout their careers. Partnerships between public schools and universities, the importance of knowledge in an era of rapid change, and ways to improve science education at the college level are among other topics he discusses.
Science is a creative process, and schools can set up ways for young students to experience the thrill of discovery, Alberts says. He recalls his early interest in high school chemistry and why he changed his major in college from pre-med to biochemistry. He also describes the importance of ethics and helping young scientists deal with complex, ambiguous issues. In the last half of his interview, Alberts explains how scientists can be a communications bridge between nations and inform public policy, both nationally and globally, and emphasizes the Internet as a tool for sharing information and building a better world.
Last Updated: 08-01-2005
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The audio files linked above are part of the National Academy of Sciences InterViews series. Opinions and statements included in these audio files are those of the interviewee and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Academy of Sciences.