On Wednesday 9th November, UC students studying abroad in Edinburgh were given the very special opportunity to meet long-time UC Berkeley faculty member and Nobel Laureate Dr. Randy Schekman.
Dr. Schekman received his BA in Molecular Sciences from UCLA in 1971, and spent his third year studying abroad at the University of Edinburgh as an exchange student. He found “the most enduring influence of [his] year in Edinburgh” through grad student Leonard Kelly, who had links with leading DNA enzymologist Arthur Kornberg. Inspired by Kornberg’s work, Schekman “resolved to learn biochemistry from a master such as [him]”.
In 1975, he received a PhD from Stanford University for research on DNA replication in Kornberg’s department. Schekman’s work in the field has earned him a number of honours and recognitions, the most notable being the shared 2013 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine with James Rothman and Thomas C. Südhof for their work on cell membrane vesicle trafficking.
Dr. Schekman gave a talk in Rainy Hall at the New College to the students, starting with his deep fascination with biology at a young age, to the fact that his love for basketball propelled him to choose UCLA for his undergraduate degree. He mentioned that his time studying abroad in Edinburgh was deeply influential in more ways that one, not least of all because this helped him become linked to Kornberg.
Students were then invited to ask questions, and a networking reception with refreshments followed afterwards.
It’s safe to say that the night was a great success and honour for the students who were able to enjoy a relaxed evening with a Nobel Laureate. Many thanks to the Alumni departments at the University of Edinburgh and UCEAP for making this possible!