Words of Wisdom from the Scientist to The Spectrum

By AKARI IBURI
On April 28, 2011

Before this year's final Distinguished Speaker, world-renowned scientist J. Craig Venter, spoke at Alumni Arena, he took some time to share a few words with The Spectrum.

Venter is recognized as one of the leading scientists of the 21st century through his tremendous contributions to the field of genomics. He is the founder and president of the J. Craig Venter Institute, recipient of many scientific awards and honors, and author of A Life Decoded: My Genome: My Life in 2007, exposing his story in genomics to the public.

Prior to his life in genomic research, Venter was a professor at the University at Buffalo and recalls reading The Spectrum when he was teaching.

The Spectrum: How did you become involved in genomic research?

J. Craig Venter: I was just excited about the idea of getting all the information from sequencing the genome versus what we were all doing of trying to find one gene at a time, so that was going to take centuries if we didn't change how we were doing things.

TS: With your discoveries of genomes within the fruit flies and bats, what's next on your agenda?

JCV: Last year, we reported the first synthetic genome and the first synthetic life form, and so we're trying to now understand the human genome, understand the potential for making synthetic life, and what both of those mean for the future.

TS: What projects are you and your team working on now?

JCV: Approaches to making new vaccines using synthetic DNA, new approaches to making fuel based on carbon dioxide, new approaches to making new sources of food based on recycling carbon dioxide.

TS: Where do you see science going next?

JCV: We hope pretty quickly it's going to make some of these areas possible because we're getting pretty desperate as we add the equivalent of an entire India and China to the world's population within the next 30 years or so, so we absolutely have to come up with new solutions, or your future will be pretty bleak.

Email: features@ubspectrum.com


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