Carlos Bustamante, PhD, was sworn to secrecy: After he received an early morning phone call telling him that he had received a MacArthur fellowship, he said the only person he told was his wife. “I didn’t even tell my parents,” Bustamante told me during this 1:2:1 podcast.
Since the public announcement last week of the 2010 awardees by the John D. and Katherine T. MacArthur Foundation , he’s received congratulations from a wide variety of people – friends from elementary school that he’d not heard from in twenty years to teachers and mentors with whom he says he shares his success.
Bustamante is a population genetist. Last January he joined Stanford’s genetics department from Cornell University. His research focuses on analyzing genome wide patterns of variation within and between species to address fundamental questions in biology, anthropology, and medicine. Bustamante’s group works on a variety of organisms and model systems, ranging from humans and other primates to domesticated plant and animals. Much of his research is at the interface of computational biology, mathematical genetics and evolutionary genomics.
So where does Bustamante’s passion for science and research come from? “I think it’s about trying to understand phenomena that we have been interested in for a long time and until now has alluded us. What are the differences among individuals, along species, among populations. Why are there differences? And, how do we use this information to improve people’s lives?”