Digital Collections

Oral history interview with Jonathon Howard

  • 1995-Jan-23 – 1995-Jan-25

Jonathon Howard was born in Sydney, Australia. The oldest of four children, he grew up in a suburb of Sydney. He lived near Ku-Ring-Gai National Park, where he loved to hike, camp, and fish. He also played cricket and soccer and surfed. His parents were both architects until his father became a successful landscape architect and his mother a teacher of architecture. None of his siblings finished high school, and Howard disliked school intensely—except for mathematics—playing truant for much of his time there. But along came William Eason, who had been headmaster at Ku-Ring-Gai Chase High School before Howard entered. Eason founded International School, to which Howard transferred and in which he throve. From International School Howard went to Australian National University, obtaining his BSc in mathematics in 1979. He lost interest in mathematics and became interested in physics and neurobiology for graduate work. He obtained his PhD from Australian National University in 1983. He then took a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Bristol in Bristol, England. Sensing a lack of common interest with co-workers there and not liking the weather, he took a postdoc at the University of California at San Francisco, where he worked in Albert James Hudspeth's lab. He found UCSF's intellectual climate stimulating and exciting. He also met his wife, Karla M. Neugebauer, there. Howard became interested in both vision and hearing, studying first photoreceptors and then hair cells. He accepted an assistant professorship at the University of Washington, which he thought would be a better place to continue his research on kinesin and myosin. He remains there today, attempting to balance his construction of his own tools, his teaching, his thinking, his research, and his life with wife and young daughter. He has won many awards, including the Pew Scholar in the Biomedical Sciences award, and he has many publications to his credit.

Access this interview

By request 1 PDF Transcript File and 12 Audio Recording Files

Fill out a brief form to receive immediate access to these files.

If you have any questions about transcripts, recordings, or usage permissions, contact the Center for Oral History at

PDF — 189 KB