Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Your first laureate

For science reporters, the first encounter with a Nobel laureate is intimidating -- no matter how warm and friendly he or she is as a person. As soon as you've interviewed one, or simply shaken hands and exchanged pleasantries during a noisy reception, you relax a bit.

So you might as well bag your first Nobelist tomorrow.

Sir Paul Nurse is speaking at 5:00 p.m. in room 237 at the College of Veterinary Medicine, followed by a reception across the street at the Coverdell Building. Sir Paul won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2001 for discovering key steps in regulation of the cell cycle. His findings are important for understanding not only how a tiny cluster of cells expands to become Brad Pitt, but also how regulation goes awry in malignant tumors.

Hear his talk, exchange a few words, and you'll be ready for your first reporting assignment involving one of these rare birds. I've hitched a ride home with a Nobelist in chemistry during a snowstorm and interviewed two of them on the morning of the 1989 San Francisco earthquake.

It gets easier with practice so you might as well start tomorrow.