Dr. James Williamson Speaks About RNA-Protein Complex

April 06, 2010

Following an introduction by Dr. Truman Turnquist, professor of chemistry, Dr. James Williamson of the Scripps Research Institute presented "From Chemistry at MUC to Biology at TSRI: An Odyssey in Progress," as part of the activities for the dedication of Bracy Hall.


Williamson, a 1981 graduate of Mount Union, aimed to educate the audience on where he came from in terms of his chemical heritage. He showed parts of his senior research project while at Mount Union College before he started speaking on his views about chemistry and biology. He mentioned that chemistry is all about experimentation. "In chemistry, you can throw stuff together, look at it and try to do something with it," he said.

He went to speak about a RNA-protein complex and its effect on the replication of HIV. With numerous visual examples of molecular structures and formulas, Williamson talked about the difference between DNA and RNA the importance of the RNA molecule.

Williamson ended by likening chemistry to alchemy. "With chemistry, you can make things that ask and answer important questions." He also expressed his gratitude to his former professors and advisors for giving him a good foundation to work from when he pursued his interest in the sciences.

Williamson earned a bachelor's degree at Mount Union College and a doctoral degree at Stanford University. He is currently a professor of molecular biology and chemistry at the Skaggs Institute for Chemical Biology and associate dean of the chemistry program at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) in California.

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