15 Minutes with Professor Roger Kornberg, 2006 Nobel Laureate in Chemistry

The Inflight Magazine of Malaysia Airlines, March 2009

You are the sixth father-son pair to win the Nobel Prize. How old were you when your father won?

I was about 12. It was actually a very low-key affair, as that was 50 years ago! There were a couple of reporters who did some interviews, that’ s about it.

And how did they celebrate when you won?

As a Nobel Laureate today, I have much more ‘obligations’ compared to my father’s time. There are more speeches to share, more travels and definitely more media coverage, but it’s all for the benefit of research so I’m proud to be part of it.

Who are your role models?

My wife Yahli, who’s also a professor at Stanford University, helped me through a lot of my research. My colleagues play a crucial role in our research as well.

How often do you travel?

For Bridges – Dialogues Towards a Culture of Peace, I’ve traveled around Malaysia and Thailand. This is my first time to Malaysia, and I find KL to be indistinguishable from any major city in the USA!

What do you do on weekends?

I love spending time with my wife and children – Guy, Maya and our youngest, Gil. We like going to the theatre, concerts and museums.

What are you currently working on?

Science is always an ongoing research, so I’m continuing my previous research on DNA and genes.

Your advice to budding scientists.

Young people should pursue their sense of curiosity! They should do what they feel strongly inclined toward, what they are passionate about.

Professor Kornberg was in Malaysia for Bridges: Dialogues Towards a Culture of Peace (November 2008 – April 2009), of which Malaysia Airlines is a sponsor.