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MIT Professor Susan Lindquist

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[MUSIC PLAYS]

LINDQUIST: So it was when I was in fifth grade that my teacher walked into the room and said, okay, boys and girls, close your books. We're going to talk about what is life. And I wish she was still alive. Wish I could go back and tell her [CHUCKLES] what that moment was to me. Because it was just so extraordinary. I remember, after an hour of that discussion of trying to figure out what the heck life was, I was just so astonished. I thought, gee, this is really cool. And I don't think I ever stopped wondering about it from that moment on.

As a young woman at that time, in that era, it was just not even something that had occurred to me, that I could possibly do for a living. That I could be a scientist. And it really was when I was a student at the University of Illinois. One of my professors-- I was taking some biology classes. He said would you be interested in doing some research. [CHUCKLES] It was really just not something I would have thought of doing. I got into his lab for the summer through an NSF Fellowship. Which was really just a wonderful thing, that they would give a small-- I was poor, I didn't have a lot of money. But they gave me a living stipend, and enough to get by for the summer. And so I didn't have to take a job as a waitress, which I'd done the previous summer. And I got into a laboratory, and I just realized that, gee, I could do this. I might be able to do this for a living. And so that's when I took off.