My official title is the Praecis Professor of Biology, in the Department of Biology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. I began serving as Department Head in August 2014. I grew up in Branford CT, then a “typical New England town” near New Haven. I went off to college at Brown University, graduating in 1979 with a BA degree in Biochemistry. Graduate school was at the University of Wisconsin-Madison (where it can get pretty cold in the winter), working first in the lab of Dick Burgess, and then in the lab of Carol Gross. I received a Ph.D. in molecular biology from UW-Madison in 1984. After a postdoctoral fellowship in the Department of Cellular and Molecular Biology at Harvard in the lab of Rich Losick, I joined the Department of Biology at MIT in 1988. I received a life-saving heart transplant in 2006. Because of organ donation and transplantation, and my successful transplant, I am still alive and able to enjoy family, friends, science, teaching, and service, among other less important things.

Research Interests

Molecular microbiology; microbial genetics; microbial development; cell-cell signaling; quorum sensing; signal transduction; gene expression; replication; horizontal gene transfer

Membership Type


Election Year


Primary Section

Section 26: Genetics

Secondary Section

Section 44: Microbial Biology