In this episode, Itai and Martin talk to Harmit Malik, Professor at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and President of the Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution. Harmit’s main Night Science tool is to talk again and again about the same puzzling observation to different people, drawing variations of the same story on the blackboard. At some point, he says, you realize that something in your story never changes - that is where the false assumptions are. Harmit thinks that in pretty much every important result he published, there was a point where he thought the project had failed – where a major result contradicted the original expectations. But that “failure” actually points to the dark alleys where the true discoveries hide.
Harmit studied Chemical Engineering at IIT Bombay. Today he studies the causes and consequences of genetic conflicts that take place between different genomes or even between components of the same genome. His main interest is in fast-evolving genes, trying to understand molecular “arms races" and how they drive genetic innovation. Harmit is a member of the US National Academy of Sciences.
For more information on Night Science, visit www.night-science.org .