What is the
most significant event that has occurred in your
profession or field of study during the 20th century?
What lesson do you take away from that event?
The discovery of
the structure of DNA, the genetic material, in 1953
and, 25 years later, the development of tools to
isolate, rearrange and move these genetic instructions
from one cell to another are the most significant
events in genetics in the 20th Century. We use this
knowledge and technologies from them to produce
new pharmaceuticals to better heal us and new crops
to better feed us. We have now begun to decipher
the genetic blueprints for all living things including
man to better understand the common mechanisms of
The progress in genetics
is exciting for all that it promises in improving
the quality of life. I am constantly astounded by
the ingenuity of my academic and company colleagues
in the application of new technology and always
at a loss to predict what advance will be next.
what is the most meaningful life lesson you have
taken from your vocation or avocation?
The most meaningful
life lesson for me, and one that is especially difficult
for a scientist to learn, is that teams of bright,
dedicated, trusted persons with clear goals can
accomplish much more that an individual. One must
make their contribution and help others do theirs.
I became and accomplished so much more once I learned
or mentor(s) have had the most significant impact
on your life? Can you describe how that person affected
Many of my teachers
and fellow students at Wabash contributed to my
life's course and achievements. Willis Johnson allowed
me to discover the excitement of independent research
and the excitement being the first person to observe
something new, a thrill that is still with me. Les
Hearson, Austin Brooks, Tom Cole and Ed Haenisch
and many, many others reinforced this experience.
They gave me a firm foundation of knowledge, taught
me the tools to learn more and gave me the confidence
in my ability to apply what I knew. I have carried
these throughout my graduate education and my career.
experience, what is the greatest misconception the
public has about your vocation (or field of study)
or the people in that vocation?
The public ( which
includes me for the many areas with which I am not
familiar) believes that scientists can accomplish
anything and then becomes concerned when they do.
This is especially true for new technologies like
genetic engineering. It is crucial that we maintain
open communications for a dialogue to create a future
we all desire.
Rogers is a geneticist for the Monsanto Corporation;
co-recipient of the 1999 National Medal of Technology
for developing techniques for creating transgenic