Yin, meet yang

As a molecular biologist who holds a PhD in comparative literature, Priya Venkatesan offers a unique perspective on why sciences and humanities often don't get along

Priya Venkatesan
I am currently a postdoctoral researcher in a laboratory at Dartmouth Medical School. There is nothing out of the ordinary about that; DMS counts more than 200 postdoctoral fellows among its ranks this year. But my case is unusual. Although I gained some experience as a scientist while obtaining a master of science in genetics, my doctorate is in comparative literature, with an emphasis on French literature and philosophy. So why am I conducting molecular biological research? After finishing up my studies in literature, I entered a molecular biology lab at DMS with the intention of seeking parallels between scientific practice and literature. My interests in graduate school were mainly theoretical, as I textually analyzed certain aspects of scientific communication. However, for me, a question remained: Is there room for literary theory within the framework of the laboratory? While conducting molecular biology research in the lab of Dr. Christopher Lowrey...
literature and sciencescience studiesliterary inquiryheremail@the-scientist.comVenkatesan is a 1990 graduate of Dartmouth College, where she double-majored in biochemistry and comparative literature. She also holds a master's degree in genetics from the University of California at Davis and a doctorate in literature from the University of California at San Diego. Reprinted with permission from the Summer 2007 issue of Dartmouth Medicine magazine. Scientist Scientist

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