The Nation’s Largest African American Video Oral History Collection Mobile search icon Mobile close search icon
Advanced Biography Search
Mobile navigation icon Close mobile navigation icon

Kenneth Olden

Cell biologist and biochemist Kenneth Olden was born in Parrottsville, Tennessee. He graduated from Knoxville College in 1960 with his B.S. degree in biology. In 1962, Olden enrolled at the University of Michigan and graduated from there in 1964 with his M.S. degree in genetics. He went on to earn his Ph.D. in cell biology and biochemistry from Temple University in 1978. Upon graduation, Olden served as a postdoctoral fellow and instructor in the physiology department at Harvard University Medical School where he worked from 1970 to 1974.

From 1974 to 1979, he was employed as a researcher in the laboratory of molecular biology at the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). In 1977, he became the first African American to be awarded tenure and promoted to the rank of independent investigator at the NIH. From 1979-1991, he held several positions at the Howard University Cancer Center, including Director, Professor and Chairman of the Department of Oncology. Olden served in several positions at Howard University between 1979 and 1991, including associate professor of oncology in the Medical School as well as professor and chairman of the Department of Oncology.

In 1991, Olden was named Director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) and the Nation Toxicology Program (NTP) in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service. He was the first African American to become director of one of the NIH Institutes. Olden then served as Chief of the Metastasis Group in the Laboratory of Molecular Carcinogenesis at the NIEHS. He was appointed as the Yerby Visiting Professor in the Harvard School of Public Health from 2006 to 2007. In 2008, Olden became founding Dean of the School of Public Health at the City University of New York.

Olden has received four of the most prestigious awards in public health: the American Public Health Association Calver Award in 2002, the Sedgwick Memorial Medal and the Laurenberg Award in 2004, and the Julius B. Richmond Award in 2005. He also received three of the highest awards for a public servant in the executive branch of the U.S. Government: the DHHS Secretary’s Distinguished Service Award in 1995, the President’s Meritorious Executive Rank Award in 1997, and the President’s Distinguished Executive Rank Award in 1998. He was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Science from the University of Rochester and an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from the College of Charleston. Olden was elected to membership in the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences in 1994.

Ken Olden was interviewed by TheHistoryMakers on May 21, 2013.

Accession Number

A2013.123

Sex

Male

Interview Date

5/21/2013

Last Name

Olden

Marital Status

Married

Organizations
Schools

Knoxville College

University of Michigan

Temple University

Tanner High School

Allen Chapel School

First Name

Ken

Birth City, State, Country

Newport

HM ID

OLD01

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Tennessee

Favorite Vacation Destination

Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts

Favorite Quote

Genetics loads the gun, the environment pulls the trigger.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

North Carolina

Birth Date

7/22/1938

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Durham

Country

United States

Favorite Food

All Food

Short Description

Cell biologist and academic administrator Kenneth Olden (1938 - ) became the founding Dean of the School of Public Health at the City University of New York in 2008. He is a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences.

Employment

United States Environmental Protection Agency

City University of New York

Harvard University Medical School

National Caner Institute of the National Institutes of Health

Howard University Cancer Center

National Institute of Health (NIH)

United States Department of Health and Human Services

Favorite Color

Red

Timing Pairs
0,0:906,3:1544,18:2124,32:6230,159:7110,172:10053,198:12626,240:17440,309:17772,314:27629,422:27897,427:38570,563:42424,600:43080,608:43818,618:44392,628:49312,703:53216,713:54224,730:55043,748:55358,754:55610,759:57059,789:59831,850:60272,859:64703,898:65068,904:65360,910:66090,919:66601,928:77664,1097:78267,1108:78602,1114:80958,1129:81253,1135:84258,1179:88236,1253:88782,1263:89484,1273:90342,1289:90654,1294:91512,1308:91980,1317:92292,1322:93150,1331:93696,1339:101855,1411:102380,1419:102905,1429:103205,1434:103505,1439:105380,1457:106076,1478:106598,1487:107004,1495:108106,1519:108454,1526:108976,1536:109266,1542:109498,1547:109730,1552:109962,1557:115316,1580:115561,1587:115904,1595:116737,1624:117227,1631:117668,1641:117864,1646:118060,1651:118403,1660:118697,1667:119040,1675:119236,1680:120720,1689$0,0:1190,12:2254,26:7346,149:11358,174:12730,189:13710,205:16758,223:17334,230:20022,263:22254,279:29360,358:29920,366:30800,383:31920,406:32240,411:32560,416:33040,424:35836,442:37420,470:37684,476:41240,513:41590,519:41940,526:43270,552:43760,560:44180,568:45860,635:50613,666:51341,676:51705,681:53252,699:54617,718:55436,729:56073,737:59052,752:59490,763:59782,768:60439,778:61680,800:62994,823:68555,964:68780,970:69185,980:75352,1068:75584,1073:75816,1087:76280,1098:76512,1103:78088,1116:78952,1133:79960,1145:81976,1181:82552,1193:84352,1217:94840,1347:102821,1515:103113,1520:103624,1529:103989,1535:105668,1559:106033,1565:106398,1571:111674,1608:112002,1613:112658,1623:113888,1639:118152,1697:119382,1720:122974,1750:127320,1809:127754,1818:128002,1823:129800,1862:131340,1876:134726,1898:135462,1908:137762,1935:138222,1941:138682,1947:139326,1955:140522,1970:159755,2188:160181,2195:160536,2201:160820,2206:161317,2216:162737,2239:163021,2245:163305,2250:164299,2271:164796,2284:165364,2294:166997,2327:170720,2334:171310,2354:173021,2392:173434,2401:173906,2411:175610,2422
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Kenneth Olden's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Kenneth Olden lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Kenneth Olden describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Kenneth Olden talks about his mother and about Newport, Tennessee

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Kenneth Olden describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Kenneth Olden talks about his parents attending church while growing up in Newport, Tennessee

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Kenneth Olden talks about visiting his hometown in Newport, Tennessee

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Kenneth Olden talks about his parents attending school in Newport, Tennessee

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Kenneth Olden talks about his parents as his role models

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Kenneth Olden talks about his siblings

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Kenneth Olden describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Kenneth Olden describes the sights, sounds and smells of growing up in Parrotsville, Tennessee

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Kenneth Olden describes his experience in elementary school

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Kenneth Olden describes his early interest in reading and in pursuing higher education

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Kenneth Olden talks about successful African Americans in his community and his role in church while growing up

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Kenneth Olden describes his experience in high school - part one

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Kenneth Olden describes his experience in high school - part two

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Kenneth Olden talks about graduating from high school, attending Knoxville College, and his interest in becoming a scientist

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Kenneth Olden describes the difference between research laboratories and teaching laboratories

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Kenneth Olden describes his experience at Knoxville College and talks about his chemistry teacher and mentor, Dr. Mertin

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Kenneth Olden describes his experience in the undergraduate research program at the University of Tennessee before it was integrated

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Kenneth Olden talks about graduating from Knoxville College, working for a year, and starting graduate school at the University of Michigan

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Kenneth Olden describes his decision to attend the University of Michigan to pursue his master's degree in biology

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Kenneth Olden describes his experience at the University of Michigan

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Kenneth Olden describes his experience as a researcher at Columbia University, and his decision to pursue a Ph.D. degree at Temple University

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Kenneth Olden describes his doctoral dissertation in bioenergetics, and the characterization of the P503 pigment

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Kenneth Olden talks about his family's reaction and understanding of his career as a scientist

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Kenneth Olden talks about his experience in Knoxville, Tennessee during the Civil Rights Movement, and the peaceful integration of businesses there

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Kenneth Olden describes his experience as a postdoctoral researcher at Harvard University, and the characterization of a cell-wall mutant of E.coli

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Kenneth Olden describes his postdoctoral work on characterizing a cell-wall mutant of E.coli

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Kenneth Olden talks about ATP is the source of energy in protein degradation, and being cited in the 1972 Nobel Prize lecture

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Kenneth Olden describes his appointment at the National Cancer Institute in 1974, and becoming tenured in 1977

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Kenneth Olden talks about protein secretion

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Kenneth Olden describes his discovery that protein secretion does not require a carbohydrate tag

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Kenneth Olden describes the scientific community's reaction to his discovery that protein secretion does not require a carbohydrate tag

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Kenneth Olden talks about the Nobel Prize winning discovery of the peptide signal sequence that facilitates protein secretion

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Kenneth Olden talks about his research in finding a possible cure for melanoma, and the challenges that prevented it from being a feasible cure

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Kenneth Olden talks about the problems with chemotherapy as a treatment for cancer

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Kenneth Olden describes his decision to join the Howard University Cancer Center in 1978 - part one

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Kenneth Olden describes his decision to join the Howard University Cancer Center in 1978 - part two

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Kenneth Olden describes his service as the scientific director of the Howard University Cancer Center

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Kenneth Olden talks about his appointment as the director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) in 1991

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Kenneth Olden describes his tenure as the director of the National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS)

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Kenneth Olden discusses the problems of holding positions of power for too long

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Kenneth Olden talks about the state of the Howard University Cancer Center after he left in 1991

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Kenneth Olden talks about his appointments at Harvard School of Public Health and the City University of New York [CUNY]

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Kenneth Olden talks about his appointment as the director of the National Center for Environmental Assessment at the EPA

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Kenneth Olden talks about the role of the National Center for Environmental Assessment at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) - part one

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Kenneth Olden talks about the role of the National Center for Environmental Assessment at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) - part two

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Kenneth Olden talks about the role of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and his service there

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Kenneth Olden talks about environmental justice

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Kenneth Olden talks about the dual role of genetic predisposition and environmental triggers in the manifestation of chronic diseases

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Kenneth Olden describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community today

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Kenneth Olden reflects upon his career

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Kenneth Olden reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Kenneth Olden talks about his family

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Kenneth Olden talks about how he would like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

6$4

DAStory

3$9

DATitle
Kenneth Olden talks about his appointment as the director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) in 1991
Kenneth Olden talks about ATP is the source of energy in protein degradation, and being cited in the 1972 Nobel Prize lecture
Transcript
So when they were looking for a director of NIEHS [National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences], I had the experience. And, and they were looking for somebody who could kind of bring NIEHS back, find its, it had lost its way. And that was NIEHS's thinking. And so they wanted somebody who, who had very rigorous standards to come in and restore--bring NIEHS back. And so when I interviewed, they figured I was that person. And so I got the job.$$Hold on one second [coughs]. I'm sorry, all right.$$And again, NIH [National Institutes of Health] had never had a non-Caucasian. Not only African American, there was never a non-Caucasian and the only woman was the wife of one of the inside guys. So that was it. So when I showed up, there were seventeen institutes and, and around the conference table and all of them were white males except a Caucasian woman and me. And so to, to think that, that NIH would do that was not, was not you know, it was--I almost didn't apply because I said what the hell, I'm wasting my time, this is not gonna happen. And no one would thought it, thought it would happen, in the black community thought it would happen. But one person called me at the NIH who was my mentor and said look Ken, you know this is a different time. And, and I'll promise you I will do, make sure the playing field is level. I, I'm not gonna sub--you know, tilt it towards you or anybody else, but I'll make sure and I'm in a position to do that, that the playing field is level. If the Search Committee comes back with your name at the top, we'll take a serious look at it. That's what the Search Committee came back with and that's exactly what happened.$But so then what I did is became a instructor [Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts]. And then I got a Macy Faculty Fellowship, Josiah Macy Foundation. And, and my project was to look at protein degradation. And that's when we really hit the, the, the jackpot. So we decided that--it was known that cells degrade proteins, but nobody--and we had thought that it required energy. But we didn't know what type of energy. And so I worked out and demonstrated that, that not only did you need energy to break down a protein, but you needed a special kind of energy. It had to be ATP [adenosine triphosphate], it couldn't be other forms of energy. And it turns out that that was a major, unknown in the way that cells degrade proteins. The people who were competing with us when I was at Harvard, won the Nobel Prize, [Avram] Hershko [won the 2004 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for the discovery of ubiquitin-mediated protein degradation], Hershko and--the Nobel Prize was given in protein degradation and showed me how important it was. And I was at--working with Fred [Alfred] Goldberg. Fred Goldberg and myself and a few others were working on protein degradation. My part was to figure out that ATP was required. Hershko and I forget the other guy's name. Anyway, they won the Nobel Prize, they are Israelis.$$This is in, in 19--$$That was in, yeah '72 [1972], '72 [1972] I'd say.$$'72 [1972].$$Just before I came to NIH [National Institutes of Health]. So it worked. So we, we--well it turns out that when the Nobel Prize was given and the Nobel Prize lecture was written, one of the, you know there are certain seminal discoveries and, and the ATP linkage was one of them, and that was my paper. So because Hershko got the Nobel Prize for figuring out how proteins are degraded, and, and that was what Goldberg was interested in. I was not interested in that per se. But the source of energy was ATP. So in the Nobel Prize lecture publication in Science [journal], our paper is cited, and--$$Okay, okay.$$So it was important.$$All right, so, so it changed the field.$$Yeah, yeah, yeah.$$Made a major contribution to the field.$$Yeah, that's absolutely right. And that's never been refuted. That's the source--for many, many years everybody knew that was the source of energy. But what is--what's the source nobody knew. So we designed a set of experiments to show what the source of energy was.

George Langford

Biologist and academic administrator George M. Langford was born on August 26, 1944 in Roanoke Rapids, North Carolina to Lillie and Maynard Langford. Langford excelled at math in high school and was fascinated by the shapes and structures found under the microscope. He studied biology at Fayetteville State University earning his B.S. degree in 1966. Despite the lack of laboratory facilities, Langford had good mentors who persuaded him to attend graduate school. He earned his M.S. degree in 1969 and his Ph.D. degree in 1971, both in cell biology from the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT). He finished his postdoctoral training in 1973 from the cell biology program at the University of Pennsylvania as a National Institutes of Health (NIH) Fellow.

In 1973, Langford joined the faculty of the University of Massachusetts as a professor of cell biology and conducted research at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Massachusetts in 1976. He continued his career in academia, teaching at Howard University in 1977 and joining the faculty of University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill in 1979. He was promoted to a full professor at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill in 1988. Langford’s research focused on the nerves of invertebrates as well as cellular motility. He was honored with an appointment to the National Science Foundation (NSF) where he served as director of cell biology from 1988 to 1989. In 1991, Langford joined the faculty of Dartmouth College as the Ernest Everett Just Professor of Natural Sciences and a professor of biological sciences where he remained until 2005. Between 2005 and 2008, Langford was employed at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst as dean of the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics and Distinguished Professor of Biology. In 2008, he was engaged by Syracuse University as dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.

Langford holds memberships in many nationally prominent professional societies including the American Society for Cell Biology, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Corporation of the Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole, MA and the Society of Sigma Xi. He served on the National Science Board (NSB) from 1998 to 2004, where he served as chair of the Education and Human Resources Committee and the Vannevar Bush Award Committee. Langford has been recognized numerous times for his work including the Illinois Institute of Technology Professional Achievement Award and the American Society for Cell Biology Ernest Everett Just Lectureship Award. Langford received an honorary Doctorate from Beloit College in 2003. He is married to Sylvia Langford and they have three children.

George Langford was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on August 6, 2012.

Accession Number

A2012.165

Sex

Male

Interview Date

8/6/2012

Last Name

Langford

Middle Name

Malcolm

Schools

Potecasi Graded School

W.S. Creecy High School

Fayetteville State University

Illinois Institute of Technology

University of Pennsylvania

Beloit College

Woodland Elementary

First Name

George

Birth City, State, Country

Halifax

HM ID

LAN08

Favorite Season

Christmas

State

North Carolina

Favorite Vacation Destination

Cape Cod, Massachusetts

Favorite Quote

C'est la vie.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

8/26/1944

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Syracuse

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Apples

Short Description

Cell biologist and academic administrator George Langford (1944 - ) is an expert on cell motility and served as a dean at University of Massachusetts, Amherst and Syracuse University

Employment

Syracuse University

University of Massachusetts, Amherst

Dartmouth College

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Howard University

University of Massachusetts, Boston

University of Pennsylvania

National Science Foundation (NSF)

Marine Biological Laboratory

Argonne National Laboratory

Favorite Color

Red

Timing Pairs
0,0:4398,170:4902,177:9774,263:13730,345:14080,352:15340,381:30191,619:33588,750:42854,873:43158,878:45240,888:46549,907:61474,1062:72800,1202:79510,1240:80118,1249:80878,1262:82018,1281:84526,1332:85666,1345:96070,1463:96446,1468:110150,1625:114232,1635:114889,1646:115838,1661:121751,1764:122043,1769:124598,1809:134750,1938:136622,1973:138638,2011:139214,2020:141158,2062:141950,2074:149397,2138:149752,2144:150036,2149:151527,2167:151953,2175:152947,2189:153444,2197:154580,2219:159390,2263:160370,2278:172172,2469:178024,2569:178556,2577:179696,2592:180152,2599:180456,2604:186400,2653:187440,2679:187760,2684:189040,2719:189680,2728:191520,2762:192000,2770:192320,2775:194160,2800:194640,2807:195600,2822:196400,2833:197280,2845:205538,2913:210960,2985$0,0:1020,21:1700,31:2040,36:2890,49:3570,58:6540,84:7140,93:8265,109:8865,118:9540,128:9840,133:12465,178:15921,198:16831,211:25256,273:25837,281:26169,286:30402,357:31149,368:31481,373:32311,386:33556,410:33888,415:35299,437:35797,445:37291,466:38121,477:38785,486:39200,492:39781,501:45050,534:45560,541:46495,553:49300,598:51938,606:52294,611:54163,633:55320,649:57189,673:58168,687:59058,698:62420,723:63410,740:64130,749:67010,791:70160,845:70880,855:71690,866:74300,906:74750,912:78268,925:78796,935:79456,949:79984,958:80512,972:81568,993:83340,1004:83852,1015:84300,1023:84876,1035:85324,1043:86412,1063:86924,1073:87884,1097:88140,1102:97512,1199:98546,1212:99486,1229:102306,1271:103058,1280:103716,1288:113948,1341:114524,1351:115244,1364:115820,1373:116324,1381:116828,1387:117692,1401:118052,1407:119276,1429:120284,1452:121148,1462:121652,1470:122228,1479:124028,1516:126692,1552:132620,1602:133324,1613:133676,1618:134908,1628:135964,1642:136316,1648:137020,1656:137724,1669:138516,1679:138868,1684:140188,1703:140804,1711:145438,1773:146508,1785:147899,1798:149932,1819:150788,1828:151216,1833:151644,1838:152714,1850:156594,1863:157476,1874:159338,1890:159926,1897:161886,1953:163552,1972:165120,1991:169977,2024:171083,2041:171715,2051:173532,2077:173927,2083:181626,2121:181934,2126:185168,2204:185707,2212:192082,2260:194960,2268:195671,2278:196224,2287:197567,2305:197883,2310:198199,2315:200253,2351:200727,2358:203475,2375:203995,2384:204450,2392:205490,2411:206010,2420:207310,2444:208675,2469:209845,2492:211015,2514:211600,2524:215990,2563
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of George Langford's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - George Langford lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - George Langford describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - George Langford talks about his maternal grandparents

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - George Langford talks about his mother's growing up in Potecasi, North Carolina

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - George Langford describes his mother's remarkable skills as a farmer and a homemaker

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - George Langford describes his father's family background - part one

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - George Langford describes his father's family background - part two

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - George Langford talks about his father attending high school, and his paternal family's reputation as merchants and tradespeople

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - George Langford discusses the history and demographics of Potecasi, North Carolina, and talks about Nat Turner and the slave revolt of 1831

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - George Langford describes the segregated town of Potecasi, North Carolina, while he was growing up

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - George Langford talks about his father's family receiving an education

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - George Langford talks about his parents getting married in the early 1920s

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - George Langford talks about segregation in North Carolina, and his father's role in mediating peace during inter-racial conflicts

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - George Langford describes his parents' personalities and who he takes after

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - George Langford talks about his siblings

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - George Langford describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - George Langford describes his childhood memories on his family's farm in Potecasi, North Carolina, and talks about the home where he grew up

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - George Langford describes the sights, sounds and smells of growing up in Potecasi, North Carolina

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - George Langford describes his experience as the youngest of nine children

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - George Langford describes his interests while growing up

Tape: 2 Story: 12 - George Langford talks about his father's physical strength and his long life

Tape: 2 Story: 13 - George Langford talks about his access to African American magazines and newspapers while growing up in Potecasi, North Carolina

Tape: 2 Story: 14 - George Langford talks about all the schools that he attended, and describes his elementary school experience at Potecasi Graded School

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - George Langford describes his experience in elementary school

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - George Langford talks about the high elementary school drop-out rate while he was in school

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - George Langford describes his involvement in Church as a child, and his recollections of the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - George Langford describes his experience during segregation in Potecasi, North Carolina

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - George Langford describes his experience at W.S. Creecy High School, his interest in science, and the mentorship that he received from his teachers

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - George Langford talks about his interest in the physical sciences and his decision to major in biology in college

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - George Langford talks about his academic performance and his involvement in extracurricular activities at W.S. Creecy High School

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - George Langford talks about his mentors at W.S. Creecy High School, and his decision to pursue a college education at Fayetteville State University

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - George Langford describes his experience at Fayetteville State University

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - George Langford talks about his involvement in the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - George Langford describes how the student government at Fayetteville State University facilitated the integration of Fayetteville in the 1960s-part one

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - George Langford describes how the student government at Fayetteville State University facilitated the integration of Fayetteville in the 1960s-part two

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - George Langford talks about his mentors, Joseph Knuckles and F. Roy Hunter, at Fayetteville State University

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - George Langford describes the strong liberal arts and education programs at Fayetteville State University, and his involvement in music while there

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - George Langford describes his first winter in Chicago, and talks about the blizzard of 1967

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - George Langford talks about his experience in Chicago, and how he met his wife, Sylvia

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - George Langford talks about his doctoral advisor, William Danforth

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - George Langford talks about his interest in cell biology, and his mentors, Teru Hayashi and Jean Clark Dan, at the Illinois Institute of Technology

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - George Langford talks about the unrest in Chicago, following Dr. Martin Luther King's assassination in 1968

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - George Langford talks about other black students at the Illinois Institute of Technology while he was a student there in the late 1960s and early 1970s

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - George Langford describes his Ph.D. dissertation on the growth of the unicellular protozoa of genus Euglena, in the absence of oxygen

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - George Langford talks about the role of the American Society for Cell Biology (ASCB) in shaping his research career

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - George Langford describes his introduction to cell biology and live-cell imaging, and his experience at the University of Pennsylvania

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - George Langford describes his postdoctoral studies on the mechanism of motility in Pyrsonympha, the native protozoa found in termite guts

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - George Langford talks about his experience at the University of Massachusetts in Boston and his reasons for leaving there

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - George Langford describes his rich scientific experience at the Woods Hole Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL), and its influence on his research career

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - George Langford talks about the life of Ernest Everett Just, his pioneering science, and his tenure at the Woods Hole Marine Biological Laboratory

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - George Langford talks about the similarities between his scientific career and that of Ernest Everett Just

Tape: 5 Story: 11 - George Langford describes being an African American researcher at the University of Pennsylvania in the 1970s, and current racial trends in science

Tape: 5 Story: 12 - George Langford talks about his appointment at Howard University and his subsequent transition to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - George Langford describes the racial challenges at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - George Langford talks about segregation at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the surrounding community in the 1980s

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - George Langford describes his experience as the chairman of the Minority Affairs Committee of the American Society for Cell Biology (ASCB)

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - George Langford describes his experience as the director of the cell biology program at the National Science Foundation (NSF)

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - George Langford talks about his appointment as the Ernest Everett Just Professor of Natural Sciences at Dartmouth College in 1991

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - George Langford describes the liberal arts style of education at Dartmouth College

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - George Langford describes his efforts to increase the retention of African American students in science at Dartmouth College

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - George Langford talks about the field of social science, and his efforts to educate his colleagues and students about the concept of "white privilege"

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - George Langford describes his groundbreaking discovery of actin-dependent organelle movement in squid axoplasm

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - George Langford talks about biologist, Robert D. Allen

Tape: 6 Story: 11 - George Langford describes the implications of his discovery of actin-dependent organelle movement in squid axoplasm

Tape: 6 Story: 12 - George Langford describes his service on the National Science Board, and talks about atmospheric scientist, Warren Washington

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - George Langford talks about his service on the National Science Board's National Workforce Task Force Sub-Committee in 1999

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - George Langford describes his service as the dean of the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics at the University of Massachusetts

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - George Langford describes his service as the dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Syracuse University

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - George Langford describes his current research on yeast toxins and the collaboration between science and humanities at Syracuse University

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - George Langford shares his perspectives on how modern technology affects education

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - George Langford describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - George Langford reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - George Langford reflects upon his choices and shares his advice to young students who want to pursue studies in the STEM fields

Tape: 7 Story: 9 - George Langford talks about his family

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - George Langford talks about his exposure to the liberal arts and humanities at Dartmouth College

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - George Langford talks about how he would like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

5$7

DAStory

8$1

DATitle
George Langford describes his rich scientific experience at the Woods Hole Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL), and its influence on his research career
George Langford talks about his service on the National Science Board's National Workforce Task Force Sub-Committee in 1999
Transcript
So, it was while you were there [University of Massachusetts in Boston] that you took advantage of the Marine Biological Laboratory [MBL] at Woods Hole [Massachusetts].$$That's right, that's right. I began going to the Marine Biological Laboratory in '72 [1972] when I was at Penn [University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania]. And then I continued going for the time that I was at the University of Massachusetts in Boston.$$Okay. Well, tell us the significance of this place. And then there's another, there's a figure in the history of black science that spent a lot of time there, Dr. Ernest Everett Just [pioneering African American embryologist who studied the early development of marine invertebrates].$$Right.$$I think you've discussed him in lectures and that sort of thing, so--$$Right. Yes, so the Marine Biological Laboratory became one of the most important institutions in my development as a scientist. I went there while I was a post-doc at Penn because my, post-doc mentor Shinya Inoue always moved his laboratory there in the summers. And I went there to take the physiology course, and this was one of those amazing experiences. It's a total emersion course. It teaches you really the fine points of research science, and you're learning it from the best people in the discipline. So it's a great place, it's very student-oriented. Faculty members who come there do it because they love to do it. They are accessible in ways that they're not when they're at the home institution. And it creates this atmosphere of openness and really strong support. So, you develop, you know, an excellent network of individuals to work with as a result of being there. So, I went there in '72 [1972] for the physiology course, and I went back in '74 [1974] for the neurobiology course. And then I began to go as an independent scientist. I served as an MBL Steps [ph.] Fellow, a Macy--Josiah Macy Fellow, working in the laboratory of other scientists as I was developing my own research program, and then began to go there as an independent investigator. So, it's really, it's a unique place. If you've never been there it's really worth a visit because there's just none other place like it. So, for my own advisor, you know, because of the stress of all of the things he had to do when he was at the university, it was very hard to get in to talk to him. But in Woods Hole, it was easy, you know. You had, you could sit out on a bench by the water and talk at lunch. You could go--you know, you could spend time in the evenings working together. So, people were just accessible, and it was a wonderful learning experience. Because as I said before, you remember--I, you know, research science was all new to me, and it takes a long time to really develop a strong network and to understand just how to move a science project forward. So, I depended a great deal on the network of friends that I developed at the Marine Biological Laboratory.$[In] '99 [1999], you served as vice chair of the National Science--, I'm sorry, the National Science Board's National Workforce Task Force Sub-Committee.$$Right, right.$$What is that, now?$$So, the chair of the board at the time, Eamon (ph., unclear) [M. Kelly], wanted to address this issue of the lack of students going into the sciences. And so, he put together a task force of the board to really look at this issue. And so, for a year we actually studied the trends for students going into the sciences. And, you know, it was really frightening what we observed, you know. The data showed that we were still under-producing students in the sciences. We were doing better in the biological sciences but the numbers were very, very, small in physics and they were pretty miserable in chemistry and really bad in engineering. And so, the board put together a strong set of recommendations on how we could increase the number of students, the domestic students, who were majoring in the sciences. This is an ongoing problem, we haven't solved it. But the board was really on top of it way back there in '98 [1998], '99 [1999] to try to address that issue.$$Okay, okay. Now in 2000 you were nominated by President [Bill] Clinton for a second six-year term on the National Science Board, and you then subsequently served in 2002, you served as chair of the National Science Board Education and Human Resources Committee.$$Right, right. So, the board had several standing committees. And one of the standing committees was the Committee on the Education and Human Resources Directive. And so, this was a very important assignment as well, because this was the committee that oversaw all of the program activities at the NSF [National Science Foundation] that were designed to increase the pipeline. You know, programs that were designed to increase the quality of training in the public schools in K-12 [kindergarten through twelfth grade] as well as curriculum changes within the universities. And so, this, the committee was in charge of oversight of all of those grant programs.$$Okay. How closely did you work with Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson? You know, she was in charge of the science committee.$$That's right, yes. I got to attend several workshops that she organized to deal with this question. And she was a very, very strong supporter of the National Science Foundation and the programs that it had designed to increase students in the sciences. So, she was considered one of our strongest champions on the [Capitol] Hill.$$Okay.