Some of the nine winners of this year’s three Nobel science prizes are wonderful illustrations of the international nature of contemporary science.
Take Venkatraman Ramakrishnan, co-winner of today’s chemistry prize. He was born and educated in India, worked for 25 years in the US (picking up American citizenship) and moved to England to work at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge in 1999.
Two of the medicine laureates show a similarly global profile.
Elizabeth Blackburn – with joint US-Australian nationality – was born in Hobart, Tasmania. After undergraduate studies at the University of Melbourne, she received her PhD in 1975 from Cambridge University, England, and was a postdoctoral researcher at Yale University in the US. Since 1990 she has been professor of biology and physiology at the University of California, San Francisco.
Jack Szostackwas born in London, England, and grew up in Canada. He studied at McGill University in Montreal and received his PhD at Cornell University in New York. He has been at Harvard Medical School since 1979.
Among the physics laureates, Charles Kao, a British and US citizen, stands out for his internationalism. He was born in Shanghai, moved to Hong Kong as a boy and then went on to London to study engineering. He worked at Standard Telecommunications Laboratories near London – then part of ITT, the US telecoms company – and later became a US employee of ITT. Finally Kao returned to Hong Kong to spend 10 years as Vice-chancellor of the Chinese University there.
Such stories show the futility of adopting a nationalistic attitude to science.