George M. Church Personal History & Interests
(Unauthorized autobiography & Infrequently Asked Questions)

This page consists of items inappropriate for my official cv page, but possibly entertaining for someone, (e.g. computer-hackers looking for my signature and mother's name).

Born: MacDill Air Force Base, Florida August 28,1954 to Virginia Anne Strong and Henry Stewart McDonald III (alas not heir to the Scottish food franchise)

Citizen of USA.
Grandparents: Hazel Kornstein & George Strong; Beatrice Johnson & Henry Stewart McDonald, Jr.
Adopted 1957 by Peyton T. Jordan of Tampa, FL and 1963 by Dr. Gaylord Church of Clearwater, FL
Married 14-Dec-1990 to Chao-ting Wu. Daughter Marie Tai-lien Wu born 15-Sep-1991.
Current home coordinates : Latitude: N 42.338536, Longitude: W -71.112978
Early-onset health problems (insurance companies take note): heart attack, carcinoma, narcolepsy, dyslexia, pneumonia, motion sickness. Note developmental faciocranial time-course (above left). For more details here are my online medical records and dietary notes.

Early schooling: Seaborn (grades K-2, Tampa, FL), Holy Names(5th grade), St. Cecelia (6-8th grade) (Clearwater, FL), Dunedin Jr. High (Dunedin, FL), Phillips Academy (9-12th grade, Andover, MA)

Awards: Well, in 8th grade nearly all of us got an award for making it through elementary school (without air-conditioning and uphill both ways). I also managed to repeat 9th grade and flunk out of Duke in 1976 and hence received an official letter suitable for framing. (Fortunately, Harvard saw some value in my extracurricular activities and accepted me in 1977). This slow start has, however, changed recently, as my colleagues and I have been surprised and honored by a number of awards.

First public presentation: at the ACA meeting in Mar 9-13, 1975 in Charlottesville, VA. "A model for DNA-protein interactions". Slides . Audio(15Mb).

Acknowledgments section my 1984 Harvard PhD thesis.

Random interests (in rough chronological order of first significant involvement):
Waterskiing, swimming (shortly afterwards), math, entomology(aquatic insects), mineralogy, choir, sailing, photography, tennis, skiing(snow), skating(ice & asphalt), medicine, biking, volunteer subject for human experiments, soaring, scuba, camping, technical rock climbing NY, MA, aquaculture, home-robotics, ice swimming, volunteer activities at Lawrence Elementary School (Brookline, MA), turtle breeding.

Ancient-past independent projects:
First computer construction, Spring 1964 (science fair): an analog computer using rheostats, galvanometers, etc. based on Kirchoff's laws, etc. as explained to me by Stanley Starr (a family friend, contractor & electrician).

My first photographs were of various unusual scenes at the 1964 NY World's Fair . Then my interest was renewed in Fall 1969 by a (required) art/darkroom course in which Professor John Snyder noticed something interesting in my photos taken with a $0.49 plastic camera and loaned me his 35 mm SLR camera. In 1972 I got excited about 3D and digital photography. (A striking recent example of the latter genre upper left of this page was created with help from the HMS ID office)

First independent math & computer project, Spring 1969: Linear programming optimization. Critique-2001: Handled essentially all of the special cases, but otherwise the (internal) documentation is weak. The reference book used is not listed, but as I recall, it was on loan from Professor Crayton Bedford and had only straight math, with no algorithms per se. I was released from class work while I did this (my other motivation was to try to use "economic optimality" as an interesting link between math and biology). Source Code , Output. I used the Darmouth GE-635 computer.

My first decently recorded independent biology experiment, Spring 1970: Effects of Giberillic acid on Stem Elongation. Everyone in the class did a separate project. Critique-2001: No references given (How unacademic!) I think the idea came from a college lab text that I had hunted down (my real project was to make giant venus-fly-traps, which I did try, but did not report). 50 ppm GA data . / . Control data (Green, blue, orange = 1st, 2nd, 3rd internodal growth, each in duplicate).

First independent chemistry experiments, Spring 1972. Organic synthesis of cyclohexanone as well as qualitative analysis & IR spectroscopy of various organic compounds. I was pretty much free to do chemistry any time (which had a big impact on my sense of freedom. Somehow having the keys to the chem lab seemed to involve a whole lot more trust than having access to the greenhouse in my previous projects). IR spectrum of dimethyl-aniline

The above, while initated by me with minimal supervision, were basic textbook-type explorations. What follows were ideas that represented my first forays into bleeding-edge research experiment design:

1st idea: Modeling complementary DNA-protein surfaces in Spring 1974. (published 1975). This lead to some fun programming CORELS. Both managed to keep on truckin' into citations and web services in the 21st century.

2nd idea: High-throughput (microtiter plate) combinatorial chemistry for crystallizations in 1975. This was prompted by a Dynatech dilution system in the Channing lab that I used in the summer of 1973. This lead to thoughts on pool (multiplexed) processing in 1977, and a variant published in 1988.

3rd idea: DNA lattices figures 13-Sep-1977. Letter to Sung-Hou Kim excerpt. Other crystallographers including Brian Matthews, Carl Pabo, Steve Harrison, and Ned Seeman gave valuable critiques. Onward DNA Nanotechnology?

4th idea: Automate molecular biology, beginning with DNA sequence reading software 1978. The tests on Don Wiley's Optronics drum scanner went very well, but utility had to wait a decade for the arrival of high-throughput mania. The source code was combined with ideas about multiplexing and internal standards in 1988 and the Human Genome Project in 1984. [Related work from other groups: Elder JK, et al. Nucleic Acids Res 1986 14:417-24 Automatic reading of DNA sequencing gel autoradiographs using a large format digital scanner. Smith LM, et al. Fluorescence detection in automated DNA sequence analysis. Nature. 1986 321:674-9.]


This page was last updated 4-Jan-2010 by GMC.