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Oral history interview with Benjamin S. Glick

  • 2002-Jun-11 – 2002-Jun-13
Photograph of Benjamin S. Glick

Benjamin S. Glick was born in Goroka, New Guinea, spending the first seven months of his life there while his father worked on his PhD research in anthropology. His family then returned to the United States, to Madison, Wisconsin, staying until Glick was ten, after which they moved to New Salem, Massachusetts, where his father accepted a position as Dean at Hampshire College. Glick's mother focused on raising the family's four children (Benjamin being the eldest). The son of bibliophiles who started their own mail-order anthropology book business, Glick grew up very interested in reading and also quite interested in science. He attended junior high and high school in New Salem, developing some initial impressions of what a scientist "does," and was influenced significantly by one teacher who combined moral and scientific lessons. Raised in a Conservative Jewish household, religion also was an important part of his life. Upon finishing high school, Glick decided to attend Amherst College for his undergraduate studies, majoring in neuroscience and mathematics. College physics classes taught him to think analytically and Glick undertook neurobiology research with Steven George, focusing on nervous system mechanisms. After receiving advice from Alan Waggoner, he decided to pursue graduate work in biochemistry at Stanford University. While life at Stanford presented an initial "culture shock," Glick soon moved into the lab of James Rothman to pursue his graduate research on the Golgi apparatus. Next, he went on to the University of Basel, where he completed postdoctoral research with Jeff (Gottfried) Schatz on the stop-transfer model of mitochondrial sorting, a model that was more assertive than Walter Neupert's conservative sorting model in mitochondria. Learning much from Rothman about lab management, the culture of science, and mentoring, Glick subsequently accepted a faculty position at the University of Chicago, at which he continued his work on the Golgi apparatus and pursued projects on the structure of transitional endoplasmic reticula. The interview ends with a discussion of and reflections on some applications of his research; his teaching duties and style; administrative responsibilities; travel commitments; the process of writing journal articles; and balancing his family life with his work. He concludes the interview discussing funding, the privatization of research, and the Pew Scholars in the Biomedical Sciences Program.

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