This year’s South Shore Science Festival in Quincy was unlike any of the others I have done before. I presented Thin Layer Chromatography to the general public. One of the visitors was a surprise guest: a Nobel Laureate, Professor Jack W. Szostak. He received the Nobel Prize in 2009 in Physiology or Medicine, for figuring out how genes, despite unable to produce the ends of DNA molecules, can still produce extra strands of DNA, preventing DNA from eventually, after a few generations, just disappearing. He had been invited to the Festival and address the audience. He discussed his work that got him the Nobel Prize, his interests in science, and advice he had for others who wanted to follow a similar path. What struck me most about his speech was that he discussed a problem covering and linking different branches of science – such as physics, chemistry, astronomy, biology, etc.
He first talked about his love of science since his childhood, and about his lab which he had in his basement to perform various experiments. He went on to discuss his schooling years and his later interests, and what the mystery was behind DNA at the time they began research. He described the efforts he and his two other colleagues made to find the answer to this question, and how important their discovery turned out to be. He is now working on finding out the origins of life on Earth.
I later got the chance to speak to him about his challenges in research and what he does in his lab. He also told me that he uses Thin Layer Chromatography in his experiments, and that it was good that I was attempting such challenging topics. It was a great experience, and was an inspiring one.
The patriot ledger covered this event. http://www.patriotledger.com/news/20180421/south-shore-science-festival-brings-stem-fields-to-life