Pulitzer-prize winning novelist visits genetics lab, scientists have no recollection of visit

If a famous novelist visited your lab, would you remember it?

Jeffrey Eugenides’ latest novel The Marriage Plot features a bipolar yeast geneticist. While writing the book, Eugenides, who lives down the road from several world-famous yeast genetics labs at Princeton, decided to do a little research. He visited David Botstein, one of the elder eminences of yeast genetics, got a tour of the lab, and nobody there seems to remember the visit. From the New York Times:

Dr. Botstein took his visitor into his lab and announced, “I have here a novelist.”

The lab manager, Sanford Silverman, introduced Mr. Eugenides to the scientists there, and they took him in hand. Mr. Eugenides asked how someone would ruin an experiment. By mixing up the specimens, they told him. So in the book, Leonard does just that.

In an interview, Dr. Botstein said he could not have spent much time with Mr. Eugenides, because the visit had made no impression on him.

“I never heard of the book, and I don’t remember talking to the guy,” Dr. Botstein said.

Dr. Silverman remembers Mr. Eugenides coming to the lab, but does not recall details of his visit.

C.P. Snow is turning in his grave.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s