Lewis Wolpert was raised in South Africa where he trained to become a civil engineer specializing in soil mechanics, which he abandoned for cell biology in 1955. “A friend told me that soil mechanics wasn’t very sexy and that some of my work could be relevant to the study of cell mechanics,” he says. After obtaining a PhD from University of London, King’s College, Wolpert focused on morphogenesis with a special interest in the pattern of limb formation. The author of many books, his latest include a new edition of the textbook Principles of Development (with Cheryll Tickle) and You’re Looking Well: The Surprising Nature of Getting Old. In a Thought Experiment he offers some experimental approaches to elucidate the many unknowns about how our limbs come to be so reliably similar in size.
Glenn Tillotson, senior vice president of medical affairs at Optimer Pharmaceuticals in San Diego, California, began studying Clostridium difficile—a bacterium that causes severe and often recurring gastrointestinal infections—soon after its isolation in 1978, and went on to help develop a number of antibiotics. A few years ago he met Gayatri Vedantam and they’ve collaborated both scientifically and also on their article in this issue about alternative treatments for C. difficile infections. “We both have a real love of microbiology in general,” says Vedantam, who studies antimicrobial resistance at the University of Arizona.
Listening to Robert Stroud cite the virtues of living in San Francisco, you might think you were talking to a beach bum. “It’s one of the very few places in the world where you can have a job and also practice world-class windsurfing,” he says. But listen longer and you can recognize the voice of a scientist: “Windsurfing is all vectors—wind directions and water directions, and currents, and tides.” When studying physics as an undergrad, Stroud discovered crystallography and X-ray diffraction. After completing his PhD in structural biology at the University of London in 1968, he moved to the United States and has been at UC San Francisco since 1977, focusing on the structure of membrane proteins. In this month’s issue, you can read his article about the challenges of crystallizing these proteins.
Budding science writer Hannah Jean Waters relishes any chance she gets to enthuse about science as the newest intern at The Scientist. After graduating from Carleton College with a degree in biology, she spent a year working as a technician in a lab researching the epigenetics of aging. A passionate curiosity and a call to improve scientific literacy flows through her veins, thanks in great part to her father, who collects lichens, serves as town historian, and founded Genome Web in 1997. “His insatiable hunger for knowledge inspired me,” she says. Her blog, Culturing Science, was named the best new blog launched in 2009 by Seed Media Group’s Research Blogging.