Instead of readers’ wildlife photos today, let’s look at some old pictures of Dick Lewontin‘s lab at Harvard’s Museum of Comparative Zoology (MCZ). Andrew Berry is putting together a collection of lab photos for Dick, who turned 88 this year, and here’s some of his finds. I can hardly believe that so much time has passed, for when I was in his lab Dick was substantially younger than I am now. I was a grad student from 1973-1978, beginning when Dick was only 44 but already one of the world’s premier evolutionary geneticists. Here’s how he looked when I began at Harvard. I don’t recognize the equations, but some of you will.
Lewontin wore the same outfit nearly every day: a blue work shirt, khaki pants, work boots, and a green sweater in winter. One might think he was showing solidarity with the working class, for Dick was a diehard Marxist. One day I found a tag that had fallen out of one of his work shirts; it read “Brooks Brothers Gentleman’s Work Shirt.” I am not making that up. Dick did have a upper-middle-class background: his dad was in the garment trade, and Dick had a French-speaking nanny. He went to Harvard as an undergraduate, flunked out as a freshman, and Harvard made him work a year in the business world before they’d let him back in, It was such a horrible experience, Dick said, that he vowed never to have a “real” job. The rest is history.
Picture below: Top row: me in my hirsute halcyon days, with Greg Mayer, whose writings you read here, on my left. Bottom row: Fred Cohan (now a prof at Wesleyan) and Rod Norman.
A group of my friends in the lab. Left to right, Rama Singh (my officemate at Harvard, now a prof at McMaster), Ann Litke (the lab secretary, holding vials of flies), Don Hickey (prof at Concordia University), and me.
Top left to right: Russ Lande (Imperial College), Harold “Swamp” Lee, who made the fly medium, and Alex Felton, the lab technician. Bottom row: Don Wallace, postdoc, and me in Rasputin mode.
Grad students cleaning the lab: Tim Keith (with gloves; and yes, she was a woman named Tim), Marty Kreitman (now my colleague at Chicago), and David Glaser.
Dick sleeping on the lab couch after a hard day. I’m pretty sure I took this photo (this is a photograph of an old, wrinkled print):
Fellow grad student Marty Kreitman, who was an avid cyclist and remains so now. He was the first to publish a population-genetic analysis of DNA sequences among several individuals within a species.
Dick outside his office. It was in this office, late one evening, that he caught me completely nude. I had disrobed to play a trick on Russ Lande, who, like me, was studying late, and I went into the Boss’s office, right by Russ’s, to get naked, knowing that Dick NEVER came in in the evenings. Sadly, that was one of the very rare evenings he did, and when he flipped on the lights in his office I was standing there without a stitch on. I had some ‘splaining to do! But I told the truth, and Dick just laughed.
He has a light beard here, and grew a beard for part of my time at the MCZ. Note the signs on the door.
Below: the lab about when I was there (I may have taken this photo). Several of us schlepped that huge moose head from the MCZ attic to the lab, where Ken Weber later affixed it to the wall outside Dick’s office with heavy bolts and screws. It remained a fixture in the lab for decades, and when Dick retired and took an office on the first floor of the MCZ Labs, the moose went with him, where it still hangs.
Bottom: Tim Keith, Dave Parker, Eliott Sober, Sally Levings, J. M. Rendel (visiting prof), Fred Cohan (with water gun), Kebn Weber. Above Tim is Bill Marks (deceased) and an unidentified woman. To our right of antlers, Doreen Lewis. Behind antlers in top row, left to right: Rod Norman, Becky Jones, Lisa Brooks, Unknown Man, Marty Kreitman, Lewontin with Einar Árnason (over Dick’s head), and a woman who we can only remember as being named “Donna.”
Dick computer-reading a DNA sequencing gel (this may have been posed, as he rarely did such analysis):
A later photo, after I’d left the lab, with the moose head on the wall. The only people I know here are Doreen Lewis (lower center), and Andrew Berry to her left, who’s holding a beer (a characteristic pose):
Finally, left to right:Einar Árnason, Amanda Benson (back turned), David Rand, Dave Parker, and Andrew Berry (again with a beer). I believe this photo was taken during “DickFest,” the party to celebrate Dick’s achievements (he was refusing to retire then); about 200 former associates showed up and we had a swell series of talks and parties.
You can see the whole collection of photos here.
UPDATE: Here’s a photo of many of the people who came to Cambridge to celebrate DickFest; thanks to Jenn Thomson for providing the photo. If you’re in the field you’ll recognize some of these folks. Andrew Berry is in the front, Dick is standing against the wall in a white shirt (not a work shirt!) almost dead center, and I’m kneeling a tad lower and to the left. My friend Russ Lande is standing against the wall to the right, wearing an equid tee-shirt. If you want a key to everyone, just email me.