Despite growing up amid humble surroundings, I ended up receiving an excellent education at the University of California at Berkeley and postdoctoral training at Harvard. My academic career at Caltech was shaped by serendipity, inspirational colleagues, and a stimulating research environment, as well as smart, motivated students and postdocs who were willing to join my search for molecular understanding of complex biological systems. From chemical physics I allowed my research to evolve, beginning with the application of NMR to investigate the base stacking of nucleic acid bases in solution, the dynamic structure of membranes, and culminating with the use of various forms of spectroscopy to elucidate the structure and function of membrane proteins and the early kinetic events in protein folding. The journey was a biased random walk driven by my own intellectual curiosity and instincts and by the pace at which I learned biochemistry from my students and postdocs, my colleagues, and the literature and through osmosis during seminars and scientific meetings.


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