Brandeis biologist Eve Marder '69: My life as a scientist

A must-read for anyone interested in a career in research

Photo/Mike Lovett

Eve Marder

The October issue of The Scientist has an in-depth interview with Eve Marder ’69, the Victor and Gwendolyn Beinfield Professor of Neuroscience.

A few highlights:

How it all began

Her junior-year roommate at Brandeis came back from the first day of an abnormal psychology course and said, "Eve, you have to take this course! The professor has an English accent, wears a three-piece suit, and has a dueling scar." "Of course, I agreed," Marder says. "What could be more romantic than that?" 

So much for majoring in history

In her sophomore year, she took a post–World War II European history course. It required her to memorize every country’s political parties.

"It was all alphabet soup and boring, with an odious black textbook with double columns of text," Marder says. "I forgot all of it on purpose and changed my major to biology."

So much for becoming a hippy

Marder tells The Scientist: "Of the people I graduated college with, half were going to change the world, some were going to live on a commune, some guys ran away to Canada to avoid the draft, and others were going to a farm in Vermont to grow their own food.... Graduate school at the time was a very conservative thing to be doing."

She and her fellow female students stuck out in grad school

Marder says: "There was a lot of hubbub about it. 'What are we going to do with all these women? Civilization as we know it will end!' was how the professors talked about it."

Do you have what it takes to make it in the sciences?

Marder says: "You can take the best undergrad students, and they may not be the best graduate students. And the ones who complete the best PhDs may not be the ones that stay in the field. I think it comes down to drive, persistence, willingness to confront failure, creativity, passion — all of these other attributes that we can’t measure easily on an application."

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