Martin Chalfie is the William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of Biological Sciences and former chair of the Department of Biological Sciences at Columbia University. In 2008 he shared the Nobel Prize in Chemistry with Osamu Shimomura and Roger Y. Tsien for his introduction of Green Fluorescent Protein (GFP) as a biological marker.

Catch-22

Catch-22

by Joseph Heller

“Instead of doing our assigned work for high school, my friends and I read, reread, and memorized passages from this great anti-war novel. It shaped our thinking and our senses of humor.”

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Cry, the Beloved Country

Cry, the Beloved Country

by Alan Paton

“The best assigned reading in high school, this lyrical and sad novel examines race and family in South Africa just before the implementation of apartheid.”

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Whistling Vivaldi: How Stereotypes Affect Us and What We Can Do

Whistling Vivaldi: How Stereotypes Affect Us and What We Can Do

by Claude M. Steele

“ A wonderful and enlightening summary of social psychological studies of stereotyping, many by Steele and his students; it has lessons for everyone.”

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Tent of Miracles

Tent of Miracles

by Jorge Amado

“Amado is my favorite novelist, and this is my favorite of his many books. His enjoyment of life, sense of justice, and love of Salvador, Brazil come strongly through this book about a messenger for the Medical School, who is so much more. Miscegenation, the pitfalls of history and how it can be manipulated, and even a Nobel laureate from Columbia University contribute to the fun.”

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1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus

1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus

by Charles C. Mann

“Using history and science, this book describes what the Americas were like before Columbus.”

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Genes, Girls, and Gamow: After the Double Helix

Genes, Girls, and Gamow: After the Double Helix

by James D. Watson

“By describing life after the discovery of the DNA double helix, Watson shows that just as in the stock market, past performance does not guarantee future success. But as he relates the experimental failures, the many missteps, and the mistaken idea that a small in-group of scientists would make future breakthroughs, he also describes the overwhelming passion, excitement, and dedication of many of the people that started molecular biology. They talked science almost all the time: at parties, on hikes, and, yes, even while trying to get dates.”

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Black Cloud

Black Cloud

by Fred Hoyle

“This is one of my favorite science fiction novels; it starts with a discovery by a graduate student (whose finding is appropriated by others and who is never heard from again) and a differential equation.”

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The Common Thread: A Story of Science, Politics, Ethics and the Human Genome

The Common Thread: A Story of Science, Politics, Ethics and the Human Genome

by John Sulston & Georgina Ferry

“John is one of the most accomplished as well as one the fairest and most ethical scientists I know. This autobiography describes not only his work on C. elegans that won him a Nobel Prize, but also his efforts guiding the public effort in England that sequenced the human genome. His description of the history of the public and private efforts racing for the sequence should be required reading for anyone who thinks they know what happened from newspapers and television.”

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