When I was in graduate school, I worked with a wonderful scientist, Jack Szostak. And that’s how I felt about him. I felt like the thing that he had so wonderfully — and it was kind of one of those je ne sais quoi, hard-to-put-your-finger-on-it sorts of traits — is that he had that quality, I felt. He knew the right experiments to do. He knew the right questions to ask.
He didn’t know the answers because that’s why we do science, but he knew the right ones to ask, and I always thought to myself, “Gosh, if I could bottle that up somehow and figure out what that is.” And I never imagined that people would see me that way, but I know I really consciously tried to understand that about the people that I’ve trained with because I think I have benefited from mentors who were able to do that very beautifully.
I’ve always been driven by a fascination with evolution. Why is life the way it is now? And, of course, we’re seeing life on our planet at a snapshot in time. It was different in the past, and it will be different in the future. And it’s all strung together by DNA, right? The code of life is kind of evolving over time. And I’ve always been very, very interested in that process. So I feel like, if there’s a thread to my research over the years, that’s kind of always underlying what we do, is thinking about evolution and how it works.