Rochelle Easton Esposito, working with the Genetics Society of America, has put together a spectacular set of video interviews with the founders of modern genetics. The series, “Conversations In Genetics“, provides an oral history of the last century of biology, and also serves as a larger commentary on how ideas evolve. What sets these interviews apart is that they’re each conducted by a prominent colleague, someone with a great depth of knowledge of the discoveries of the person being interviewed. These DVDs make wonderful teaching tools and are fascinating viewing for anyone interested in the process of science.

Highlights include Francois Jacob talking about his days in the underground resistance during World War II, an impromptu concert from the magnetic Ira Herskowitz, and a fascinating story from Ed Lewis, discussing Alfred Sturtevant’s (and his own) efforts to publicize the dangers of ionizing radiation (and how the New York Times was unable to publish his articles due to government pressure). They’ve recently put clips up online so you can get a taste of the interviews for yourself. Volume 1 includes Shelly Esposito interviewing Lee Hartwell, Lucy Shapiro interviewing Francois Jacob, Elliot Meyerowitz interviewing Ed Lewis, Mary-Claire King interviewing Arno Motulsky and Carol Gross interviewing Evelyn Witkin. Volume 2 features David Anderson interviewing Seymour Benzer, Daniel Hartl interviewing James Crow, Jasper Rine interviewing Ira Herskowitz, Scott Hawley interviewing Dan Lindsley and Alfred Knudson interviewing Janet Rowley. The recently released Volume 3 has Joe Gall interviewing Elizabeth Blackburn, Barbara Meyer interviewing Sydney Brenner, Judith Hall interviewing Victor McKusick, James Crow interviewing Ray Owen and David Botstein interviewing Charles Yanofsky.

Take a look at the clips to get a feel for the interviews. Individual DVDs and boxed sets are available from CSHL Press. All in all, this is an unprecedented and highly valuable project, celebrating the achievements and preserving the legacy of some of the great minds in Biology.