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Robert Lefkowitz

Nobel Prize in Chemistry

The next series of discoveries, after we had purified this receptor, was to do what's called "cloning the gene." Okay. That allows us, because of the work on DNA, which we'd been hearing a bit about at this meeting. And of course, by the '80s this was the era when recombinant DNA was picking up steam. All based on Jim Watson and (Francis) Crick's original discovery -- from, I guess, the '60s -- about DNA. So we were able to ultimately clone the gene for this one particular receptor and thereby deduce its complete amino acid sequence. And when we did that, we made a remarkable discovery. And the discovery was it looked just like another molecule. And that molecule is called rhodopsin, and rhodopsin is the molecule in the eye that allows you to see. And when we saw that -- this was in 1986 -- we realized immediately that, you know, I'll bet there's a huge family of receptors that all look like this. In a sense, rhodopsin is a light receptor, and it looked just like what's called a beta adrenergic receptor, which was one of these adrenaline receptors that I was studying. I said, "If these two, so disparate in their function, look alike, what about receptors for histamine, serotonin, dopamine? You name it. I bet they all look alike." So using the techniques that we had developed, very quickly over the next few years, we were able to get the genes for about 10 or 12 of these different receptors. And they all looked the same. I mean, they had distinct sequences, very close though. I mean, you might have 60 to 70 percent of all the amino acids would be the same. But enough were different that they did different things.
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Robert Lefkowitz

Nobel Prize in Chemistry

Mrs. Gordon taught AP English. And she took a disliking to me for some reason early on, and she didn't like the way I wrote, so she gave me very bad grades on all my essays. She pounded into me about how to write clear, effective, succinct English. And I learned those lessons well. But what I remember -- and I pay her a tremendous tribute for that because there's no more important skill, certainly for a scientist, but really for almost any profession, than to be able to express yourself clearly and succinctly. And I think she really taught me that. She actually did the following, I think, ridiculous thing. She went around the class the day before we were to take the AP exam and predicted, and wrote on the board what she thought each of us would get. I don't know if you know anything about that scoring system. But five is the highest grade you can get, then four, and three, and two. And depending on what score you got, when you went to college the next year, you might either -- if you got a top grade, you might get not just placed out of that course, but you might actually get credit for it. If you got a four, somewhere, three, less. And if you got below a three, it was like you didn't take the course. So for many in the class, she predicted a five and some a four. And for me she predicted a three and one other kid. And then she said she would write the scores on the board in a few weeks when they came in. P.S., I got a five. And I still remember looking at her when she wrote that up there. And I could see she was not happy about it. Oh, I'm sure she was happy, but she didn't like the idea that she had been that off the mark. Anyway, that was Mrs. Gordon.
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John Lewis

Champion of Civil Rights

John Lewis: In addition to Martin Luther King, Jr., there was a young Methodist student at seminary. A young man by the name of Jim Lawson, James Lawson. He was part of something called the Methodist Student Movement. He was also active in an organization called A Fellowship for Reconciliation. He started conducting these nonviolence workshops, and I started attending these workshops. I was one of the first students to attend, and he started talking about the great religions of the world, certain elements that ran through all of the great religions of the world. And he started talking about nonviolence and passive resistance, Thoreau and civil disobedience, what Ghandi attempted to do in India, what they attempted to do in South Africa, what they accomplished in India. And he talked about Martin Luther King, Jr., and the nonviolent effort in Montgomery. And for an entire school year every Tuesday night at 6:30 p.m. a group of us -- students -- would go and study with this young guy studying the philosophy and the discipline of nonviolence. We had what we called "role playing," "social drama." Black and white college students, and some high school students. And I became imbued with this idea of what we called the "Beloved Community," a community at peace with itself -- that if you want to create the Beloved Community, a good society or a truly interracial democracy, if that is the goal, if that is the end, then the way, the means, must be one of peace and one of love, one of nonviolence. He taught us that means and end are inseparable.
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John Lewis

Champion of Civil Rights

I'll tell you, I grew up overnight. By the fall of 1959 we had what we called "test sit-ins" in Nashville. We went through a period of role playing and social drama, and then it came time for a group of black and white college students to go to downtown Nashville and just sit at a lunch counter, to establish the fact that people were denied service. It was in November and December of 1959. And then from a sit-in started in Greensboro, North Carolina, on February the 1st, 1960, we started sitting in on a regular basis. And it was there that, by sitting down, I think we were really standing up. I saw many of us, and I know in my own case I grew up while I was sitting on a lunch counter stool. I became a different person. I became a different human being.
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Maya Lin

Artist and Architect

I really sometimes question students who have chosen to go into like an architecture school from day one, because I think they're missing out on the English courses, the science courses, the math courses. If you can afford the time to do graduate and undergraduate, I would broaden your mind in undergrad and then specialize. Because I think for both art and architecture, you have your whole life ahead of you. Don't think that at age 18 you want to like just focus in on your own personal world. It's like, open it up for a while. I think it's invaluable.
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Maya Lin

Artist and Architect

I had spent my junior year abroad in Denmark and in an architecture studies program, different school. Yale doesn't have a junior year abroad. In fact, you have to tell them that you're going abroad to study something they don't teach which is, they didn't teach Danish, so I could--because I love going into a culture, if I like the architecture. And I love Scandinavian design. So, boom, I went to Denmark. And one of the very first projects, we were all given different segments of Copenhagen to study. I was given this area called Norbrow, which included this enormous park, probably half the size of Central Park, that was also a cemetery. Because in Europe spaces are so tight that you, you have multiple uses. So your cemeteries are habitable, I mean, they're parks. They're--people are walking through, people are strolling through. And I think it was very interesting. And then as I went through Europe that summer I went to Père Lachaise in France. And it was just one of those things. So when I came back to Yale -- I don't know how this conversation came up, but we all -- there were a few of us that thought a course as our senior seminar that focused on the architecture of death essentially would be really interesting. And what does that mean? It's like, God, at the time the reporters had a heyday with it. It's like morbid curiosity. It's more like how humanity deals with mortality in the built form.
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Maya Lin

Artist and Architect

I try to think of a work as an idea without a shape. If I find the shape too soon -- especially for the memorials, which have a function -- then I might be predetermining a form and then stuffing the function into the form. Instead, what I try to do is -- for two to three months -- read, research, understand anything about the site. And I don't just mean the physical site. I mean the cultural site, the historical site, who's coming, what the needs are, what I think needs to be done.
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