How serendipity shaped a life; an interview with John W. Saunders
Published: 1 October 2002
John F. Fallon
John W. Saunders Jr. is an outstanding contributor to the field of Developmental Biology. His analyses of the apical ectodermal ridge, discovery and study of the zone of polarizing activity, insights into cell death in development, and analytical studies of feather patterns are part of a legacy to developmental biology. The body of his published work remains central to the understanding of limb development and is a major reason for the premiere place that the developmental biology of limbs holds in our research and teaching today. Beyond these things known to nearly everyone, there is John's role as teacher that is equally impressive. His one-on-one style, in small groups or from the podium is engaging, encompassing, and above all else, enthusiastic about the study of the development of living things. His love of developmental biology comes through to students of all ages and is inspirational. And, of course, inimitable charm accompanies the substance of any interaction with John. He still teaches in the Embryology Course at MBL Woods Hole. Recent students say that hearing his lectures and his involvement in the laboratory are highlights of the course. His continued knowledge of science and delight in new advances is a model for students to follow and they recognize it. John Saunders is a scientist and educator par excellence. His contributions have stood the test of time. His personal interactions with colleagues and students have enriched their lives in innumerable ways, large and small. His is a lifetime of outstanding achievements. In this interview, he reflects on his six--going on seven--decades in science and his personal enjoyment of recent advances in Developmental Biology.